Forget about Boba Guys — Bar Pa Tea has transformed everybody’s favorite drink into a frozen dessert. The shop’s bubble tea ice cream has taken over social media, attracting customers hungry for both the soft serve and the Insta.
Bar Pa Tea opened its doors in July, inviting customers into its sleek, all-white space in NoLiTa. Accented with millennial pink stools and neon signs, Bar Pa Tea is the perfect place to sip tea, chat with friends or watch the clocks on the back wall counting down to fresh batches of pearl tapioca.
This is not owner Patrick Yeh’s first tea gig — his original store, Pa Tea, is located in Chinatown, with a second location near Union Square. Yeh created Bar Pa Tea as an upscale version of Pa Tea, which opened in 2013.
The new spot offers bubble tea drinks made with pure cane sugar and no additives. The changing mentality of his customers inspired Yeh to create healthier tea recipes. Before opening Bar Pa Tea, he returned to Taiwan, his homeland, to study how they were making tea now.
“I saw the way they make bubble tea is changing,” Yeh said. “Everybody wants to know the ingredients. They want a better body, and they want to be healthier.”
While the menu boasts creative teas such as “Matcha Lemonade” and “Salted Caramel Oolong Tea,” the true star is the soft serve, which currently comes in Oolong and Black Tea options. Toppings include bubbles, in both regular and mini forms, honey wheat braided twists and two varieties of crumbled cookies.
CAS sophomore Lindsay Ngo discovered Bar Pa Tea through Instagram, where it was promoting a buy-one-get-one free ice cream deal.
“It was my first time having tea flavored soft serve ice cream, and I was impressed,” she said. “I would go back.”
Yeh created the soft serve for both milk tea lovers and himself.
“I love ice cream,” he said. “So I brought a small ice cream machine home and played around with different types of tea.”
The Oolong ice cream is currently Yeh’s favorite menu item. He spent almost a year experimenting and perfecting his tea and soft serve recipes, wanting to bring the strong personalities of individual teas center stage.
“I tried to do it not too sweet,” Yeh added.
After sampling teas from all over the world, he picked the ones with flavor he could build upon. His current tea supplier is from Taiwan.
“I didn’t want to order tea [in America] because everyone would make the same tea,” Yeh explained. “Everyone would have the same supply.”
CAS sophomore Michelle Choi thought Bar Pa Tea’s flavor and menu items were unique.
“You can’t really get this type of soft serve anywhere else,” she said.
Right now, Yeh is working to expand the menu.
“I’m trying to come up with a new Oolong latte and a different flavor of ice cream,” Yeh said. “We’re also coming up with new bubbles.”
While the new flavor of soft serve is still under wraps, it will be available starting as soon as next month. Although Yeh is constantly experimenting, he plans on sticking to tea and soft serve.
“Just tea,” Yeh said. “I want to focus on the tea.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition. Email Natalie Chinn at [email protected]