Tidal Tea: finally, an authentic bubble tea shop for the City College crowd (and, yes, Harlem too)

Updated: Mar 17

When City College students return later this month, they'll find a tempting new spot to grab a tasty (and filling) drink: Tidal Tea, a just-opened bubble tea shop across the street from the main campus on Amsterdam Avenue and 135th Street.

Offering more than 30 types of drinks–from the milky to the fruity to the caffeine-free–the shop specializes in authentic bubble tea made with premium teas from Taiwan, where the drink originated; the tea is brewed fresh every three hours to avoid any bitterness.

Like all the best bubble tea shops, Tidal Tea has a wide selection of toppings, from classic tapioca bubbles to the decadent-sounding Oreo crust. The spot also lets you decide on the precise sweetness and ice level of your drink.

And not everything is a calorie bomb. Taiwanese-born co-owner Jackie Lee, who opened the spot with two Chinese-American partners, says he wants people in the U.S. to know that bubble tea doesn't have to be creamy, sweet and high-calorie. As a healthier option, he points to the milk-free jasmine green tea; black tapioca bubbles can be substituted with, say, lower-calorie aloe.

Tidal Tea is still in soft-open mode, and Lee and his partners plan to adjust the menu once students return and clear favorites appear. By September, you'll even be able to pair your tea with a light lunch: the menu will soon include fresh wonton noodle bowls topped with vegetables. A noodle and tea combo will set you back about $10–an affordable and on-the-go option for students and neighbors alike.

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