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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Ume Tea brings creative boba flavors to Evanston

Maya Schwartz/The Daily Northwestern
Ume Tea opened last week at 618 ½ Church St. in Evanston.

Ume Tea, Evanston’s newest boba establishment, handed out “All U need is ME this Valentine’s Day” cards to passersby last week at its newly opened storefront on 618 ½ Church St.

The Valentine’s Day cards are part of an effort by Ume Tea to interact with the local community and set itself apart from Evanston’s other boba shops, Zuoda Wang, a co-founder of the business, said.

For Saturday’s grand opening, all drinks were offered at a discounted price of $2.99, except the surprise cup — a drink with a compartment that hides a plushie at the bottom — and the mega fruit tea, which were both $4.99.

During the weeklong period the shop was open before its grand opening, Wang said he often sat by the window, ready to chat with anyone.

“We want to have more interactions with the customers,” said Wang. “(The marketing team) invited all the foodies on Instagram or YouTube to come to our store before we open and check it out.”

This effort to connect with social media influencers is one of Ume Tea’s main marketing strategies, Wang said.

Nolan Fan, a Chicago-based food Instagram influencer whom Ume Tea invited to promote the store, told The Daily that he had a “good first impression.” 

“No need to drive all the way down to #ChinatownChicago to get your Viral Surprise Bunny Milk Tea cus @umetea is opening their second boba shop in Evanston,” Fan wrote in a caption for his Instagram, @extranoodles.

Ume Tea was founded in California in 2019 and now has 14 locations across the country.

The chain decided to open a location in Evanston after seeing the success of its first Chicago location in Chinatown.

“We have a local partner in Chicago, and he’s very familiar with the area,” Wang said. “He wanted to help us open more locations, and we found this location close to Northwestern and to (Evanston’s) downtown.”

The walls in the shop are bubblegum pink and lined with the same stuffed animals available in the surprise cup. There is a small selection of seating against the window and pop music playing quietly on the speakers. 

Some of Ume Tea’s more popular drinks include the Brown Sugar Boba Oolong Milk Tea and the Mango Pomelo Sago. The store also offers flavors like Strawberry Matcha Slush and Lychee & Watermelon Green Tea. 

Ume also sells snacks like takoyaki — fried dough balls with octopus — as well as fries and popcorn chicken.

“We wanted to create some new fashions,” Wang said. “More delicious, more funny things for all the young people.” 

Some customers say they appreciate Ume Tea’s extensive menu. 

“I’m not usually a big fan of boba, but Ume made it very creative and fun, with all these colors and flavors,” Medill freshman Marcus Kim said.

Wang said he hopes the shop’s proximity to Northwestern’s campus will drive business from students.

Amit Prachand, associate vice president for information and analytics at the Office of the Provost, stopped by Ume Tea on Monday and said he would likely come back. 

“I’ve sampled many bobas around town … (this one) is pretty good,” he said. 

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