RealiTea one year later

Students find comforting food, tea at second milk tea shop in town after one year

EURUS THACH, Evergreen columnist

Walking into RealiTea, it’s common to see students gathered, hanging out or studying with friends. Candy Zhong, the general manager of RealiTea, said she wants her customers to enjoy their time and have a good memory of the restaurant.    

When RealiTea first opened, managing stock was challenging, Zhong said. They used to run out of ingredients with a limited inventory. The employees often recommended other options for customers when their orders weren’t available.   

“Now we are barely [run] out of something,” she said. “I believe most of the days we have everything.”

The first summer used to be the off-time for RealiTea because students and the investors went home, Zhong said, but now they’re getting about 50 percent more business than when they opened. Because of this, they plan to keep it open this summer.

RealiTea is a popular gathering and studying spot for students, Zhong said. Customers usually order bubble tea and spend the whole afternoon there. The most ordered drink is the classic black milk tea.

She said customers also come for a meal. Szechuan beef noodle soup is the most popular dish. RealiTea also serves deep-fried coconut, a Chinese recipe and the house special. 

In the future, they hope to improve their marketing with advertising, donations, or club activities, Zhong said.  

Making money is important, but the joy she finds in her work comes from meeting new people and becoming their friends, she said. She appreciates the moments when customers share their stories with her.

“I just feel like I have a really great time in my college life,” Zhong said. “I feel very touched that I, myself, and this restaurant can be a part of this memory, a part of their good memory.” 

The business is more than a material achievement to Zhong — she sees RealiTea as her child, she said. As a parent, she wants to watch it grow and become independent.

“When you are young, your parents teach you how to ride a bike. They want you to be independent [so] that you can ride your bike by yourself,” Zhong said. “That’s what I’m working on.”

Ting-Wei Hsu, freshman mechanical engineering major, said that milk tea is a popular drink in Taiwan. He used to have two or three cups of boba milk tea every day when he was there. The taste of RealiTea’s boba milk tea reminds him of his home country, he said.

“There are so many boba milk tea shops in Taiwan. In every corner, there is a boba milk tea [shop], just like Starbucks in the United States,” Hsu said. “When I miss my home country, I will drink a cup of boba milk tea [here].”

Hsu heard about RealiTea from other students at WSU and has been a customer since last semester. 

“There are two boba milk tea shops here. I like this one because [they are] faster and the taste is pretty good,” he said.

RealiTea is located at 255 E. Main St. Suite 103. They open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Their busy hours are daily lunchtime and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.