I’ve been here a number of times, mostly during the summer, and enjoyed each time. But this is definitely a modern cafe and your enjoyment of this place will defintely depend on what you are trying to get out of it.
Tea: They have a decent selection of loose leaf tea and I’ve tried a few. They’re pretty good, nothing outstanding, nothing terrible. However, they store their tea in big glass jugs that are out by the counter and exposed to light; as far as I can tell they’re not UV protected jugs. Also, their put loose leaf purchases in small paper bags (nice white ones, not brown ones) that have a layer of plastic so you can see in – not the best of long term storage. I’ve never had a cup/pot of hot tea here, but the prices are ridiculously cheap (like $2-$3/pot). Throw in the fact that their loose leaf menu seems to be passed up by most customers in favor of the boba/bubble tea menu with tea lattes and non-tea drinks/smoothies, I’d have to say this is not a tea “purist” location. The focus is definitely bubble tea with “tea” loosely defined (I thought for a while I was drinking flavored tea smoothies only to discover there is no tea in them…).
Crowd/Audience: Definitely a younger crowd. I think the fact that it’s open until 10PM on most nights and 1AM on the weekends is evidence enough. But go during the evenings and you’ll be surrounded by high school kids. I don’t mind them, but they’re not the most conducive for a traditional tea drinking experience. The employees are generally younger and hipster-ish too (it’s in uptown, that’s the general vibe).
Environment/Setting: A fairly large, open, well lit room with plenty of space. There’s a bar to sit at, about 10 tables and even a section with a futon or two. Largely relaxed but very on the modern side. They do have a Chinese water fountain thingy inside (which I am a sucker for) but might come off as cheap to some. You’ll probably hear loudish, slightly techy pop music playing over the speaker system and I’ve even seen them with a DJ. During the day I have actually done work there, but I had my headphones on to help block out the music and hoards of tweens filing in and out.
Overall: Looking for a nice and traditional, quiet, warm cuppa? You should probably go elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a nice refreshing cool latte or boba with giant straws, a young hip crowd, and are open to other drinks that don’t even necessarily have tea in them, this might be your place. I wanted to give it a 3 because I think is not something a “true” tea drinker would enjoy, but I’m open so I bumped it up to 4 stars.