WSU students open Chinese restaurant

Owners combine diverse skill sets, aspire to bring students authentic Chinese experience, food, boba



Employee Leah Chong makes popular bubble tea for customers using tea leaves Thursday evening at RealiTea in downtown Pullman.

SAM SCHMITKE, Evergreen reporter

A new Chinese food and bubble tea restaurant, RealiTea, opened downtown in November, and it’s run by five WSU students.

The five partners running the restaurant include Zhibo Ren, a junior marketing major at WSU in charge of human relations. Yiran Xu, a freshman in graduate school studying electrical engineering, is the supplier. Candy Zhong, a junior and marketing major, controls marketing.

The partners had the idea for the restaurant two years ago and the process of opening the business took a year and a half.

“We noticed that there wasn’t necessarily a good bubble tea place in town,” Zhong said. “And we wanted to show [what] authentic Chinese food is like.”

Zhong said they wanted to make sure the food was tasty, but affordable.

“Our bubble tea has homemade boba, real milk and fresh tea leaves sent in from China,” Zhong said.

Zhong said as a restaurant owner in a college town, she sees how pure and respectful students are.

“There is an aspect of trust in the students,” she said. “We know that they will be honest and try new things.”

Zhong said her partners want the restaurant to look modern and resemble restaurants in China.

“Most places in China are one color and clean-cut,” Zhong said.

They also want to make sure everyone feels comfortable in this environment, so it can be a hangout spot for students.

“We have board games and we are going to be adding more snack items,” Zhong said. “We want to have people feel that they don’t have to just come in for lunch or dinner but can come in whenever they would like.”

Zhong also wanted to make a place where other international students feel like they can be themselves.

They hope to add a Chinese written menu. They also want to add more food to the menu and turn this restaurant into a franchise.

The menu includes bowl options, house noodles, bubble teas, snacks, and desserts.

“My favorite dessert is our deep-fried coconut milk,” Zhong said. “It isn’t as sweet or have a strong coconut taste for the people that aren’t really into dessert or coconut.”

Zhong said they’d like more people to come in and experience what she considers authentic, real and fresh Chinese food.

RealiTea is located at 255 E. Main St. suite 103. The hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.