The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 8th

Review: Tama Tea could be competition for surrounding cafes

<p>Photo of Tama Tea's avocado toast.&nbsp;</p>
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Photo of Tama Tea's avocado toast. 

Tama Tea recently opened on Franklin Street, serving loose-leaf tea among other menu items. Staff writer Samantha Yi spent an afternoon taste-testing the drinks. 


As soon as you walk in, you notice how spacious the cafe is, which is quite different from the other cramped eateries on Franklin Street. There are nine tables of varying sizes, excluding sofas and armchairs, and indie music plays at a low volume. The interior design was bright but still cozy with mint green and soft black colors dominating the room.The rustic feel is added by the exposed brick walls and wooden counters. 

The cafe is proud of its dedication to sourcing their ingredients locally, as displayed by the chalkboard outside: Counter Culture, Maple View Farm and Ninth Street Bakery. Routinely, someone offered samples inside and outside the cafe. The staff was very friendly, hand delivering the food and recommending tea flavors if needed. 

The cafe’s facilities include gender-neutral bathrooms and a conference room — a pleasant surprise that I discovered on the way to the restroom. The “Think Tank” room includes a table that can seat four, a chalkboard and a large television screen. The room can be booked online or in the store. 

Taste: Matcha Matcha (Hot), Mariner Toast and Jasmine Pearls Tea (Hot) 

The Matcha Matcha, which cost $4.45 for a small, was bland. I ordered it hot so the drink was essentially matcha with milk. As I took my first sip, I made an involuntary face at the lack of sweetness. The manager and the lady at the cash register both informed me this was one of their most popular drinks. However, the more I drank it, my taste buds became accustomed to the lack of sweetness. 

The Mariner Toast was also a letdown. The avocado was made into a paste and slathered onto the whole grain toast. Unlike The Purple Bowl, the bread was not customizable and the proportion of avocado to toast was lacking. I did not particularly enjoy that the edges were so crunchy whereas the middle of the bread was spongy. 

The Jasmine Pearls Tea was the equivalent to the New England Patriot’s comeback in the 2017 Super Bowl. I loved it. The smell of the tea was floral and crisp, exactly how the sign described the tea. I may be biased because I recently have been discovering tea as an alternative to coffee but I internally started jumping with joy when I took my first sip.

Variety of Menu

The drink menu is helpfully organized into categories like signature drinks, smoothies, caffeine-free drinks and loose-leaf tea. In terms of meals, the menu offered toast, oatmeal and sandwiches. The tea categories included black, green, white, oolong, mate, herbal and pu-erh tea.

General manager Lawrence Perkins said due to suggestions and requests for more options on the menu, Tama Tea is planning to release new meal options, including a Middle Eastern inspired pork sandwich, Laos-inspired chicken dish and a quinoa avocado wrap.


The prices for a cup of tea range from $2.25 to $6, offering a wide range of tea prices for every budget. The organization of the tea pouches is pretty spectacular, especially for someone who is type-A like me. Every tea option is accompanied with a detailed description of the flavor and caffeine level as well as a glass jar of the tea leaves. The wall is helpfully divided into categories of Premium, Pure, Bold, Decadent, Fruity, Citrus & Herbs and Spicy. 


Tama Tea stands out for its affordability, customization and studying ambience. I do think Tama Tea is a better choice than Starbucks. Although Starbucks has cheaper options than the Frappuccinos, there are only a few. However, Tama Tea has more than 40 options that cost at most six dollars, most of them cost three dollars. My bank account says thank you.

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