(July 26, 2019) Teas, ice cream rolls and sushi are some of the items customers can purchase at Tea Boss, on 118th Street in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
The shop also serves smoothies, hot and cold tea and the most popular item on its menu – bubble tea, which is also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea or shortened to “Boba” tea.
Bubble milk tea, which originated in Taiwan, consists of condensed milk, tea and often comes with “pearls” made of tapioca, fruit jelly, aloe, coconut jelly, grass jelly or agar.
“Most people don’t know what bubble tea is around here, which is a little weird for us because we came from New York City where it’s a trend,” owner Johnny Ye said through translator Nancy Ye, who is the shop’s operations manager.
When Johnny Ye first came to Ocean City with his idea for a bubble tea shop, he realized he was one of the only businesses focusing on the drink in the resort.
“The owner has an entrepreneurial spirit and he called up his friends as this collaborative effort to open up something that he’s been pursuing for a long time, which is sushi,” Nancy Ye said. “This is a local area and he did a little research and it turns out ... we’re the only bubble tea shop for a couple miles around. So he saw this as a business opportunity and an entrepreneurial product.”
There are several flavors of bubble milk teas, such as honeydew, coconut, mango, passionfruit, red bean, earl grey, blueberry, peach, banana, papaya, taro (sweet potato), jasmine, almond, strawberry, vanilla and original.
Bubble teas are meant to be sipped a very specific way. The drink is served with a thin plastic covering, which is pierced by a special bubble tea straw. However, as bubble tea is not a common drink in the resort, many customers can get confused when they order it.
“People have tried to peel off the tea lid,” Ye said. “It’s a sealed lid that you’re supposed to puncture. We’ve had a couple of spills so far.”
Smoothies also come in several of the aforementioned bubble tea flavors and the café also offers fresh hot or cold milks mixed with brown sugar, passionfruit, pineapple, mango or strawberry. It also serves hot and cold coffee.
In addition to the drink menu, Tea Boss also provides fresh sushi including tuna rolls, green rolls, salmon and avocado rolls and a variety of sushi platters.
For dessert, customers can choose fried ice cream rolls ranging from lychee, green tea, chocolate, mango, dragon fruit and banana flavors.
“This shop is literally an Asian fusion dessert [place],” Ye said. “There’s bingsoo (shaved ice) from Korea and Taiwan, the ice cream rolls are from Thailand, sushi from Japan and bubble tea, which is from China and Taiwan. It’s the ultimate Asian experience.”
The restaurant has seen a number of returning customers and several new ones since opening on Father’s Day weekend.
“It’s a novelty for many people, especially for people who haven’t tried bubble tea before, and if they don’t come for the bubble tea, there’s so much variety around here,” Ye said.
Ye wants the shop to be a local venue and encourages artists to bring their work in to be displayed.
Tea Boss is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information about Tea Boss, visit www.octeaboss.com or call 410-213-4693.