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Bee & Tea brings boba, treats to Lincoln Park

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Bee & Tea, which has new location at 818 W. Fullerton Ave., specializes in boba tea drinks and sandwiches. (Photo courtesy of FOREVER BRANDS)

In the place of what was once a Forever Yogurt stands Bee & Tea, a new boba tea and bao shop located at 818 W. Fullerton Ave. Cleverly abbreviated in its branding as B&T, the shop aims to “transform the traditional, discovering a modernized boba tea concept for a new, urban audience,” according to their website.

Boba tea might seem foreign initially, but this is Bee & Tea’s intention. Boba tea originated in Taiwan and has slowly gained popularity since the ‘80s. Similar to how frozen yogurt shops took the United States by storm, boba tea, often called bubble tea, may be on the steep rise. What’s most characteristic of some of these bubble tea and smoothie drinks is tapioca boba pearls, which sit at the bottom of the drink.

“It’s very nice. It’s a subtle sweetness, gelatin type,” freshman Sanem Siddique said, describing the black orbs nesting in her drink. “It’s very different,”

Though the shop’s original location lies in Wicker Park, the Lincoln Park location exists to serve those in search of bubble tea while saving a commute to Chinatown and Uptown for quality bubble tea.

Both Bee & Tea and the departed Forever Yogurt are owned and operated by the same Chicago company, Forever Brands. Falafill, a Mediterranean kitchen, completes the trio of establishments operated by Forever Brands. Like Forever Yogurt, Bee & Tea offers a 15 percent discount to DePaul students.

Unlike the Wicker Park location, DePaul’s Bee & Tea offers self-serve frozen yogurt.

Wicker Park manager Mercedes Daliege acknowledges this along with some distinctions between the locations.

“There’s a bunch of differences. For one, there’s yogurt,” she said. “We don’t have Forever Yogurt at ours, and we also have the open-faced baos. (The DePaul location) has sandwiches. But the drink system is the exact same.”

Bao, a steamed stuffed bun, is a common delicacy in Asian bakeries around Chicago. These buns, which are often filled with pork, vegetables, or even sweet fillings, will eventually find their way to the DePaul location. But for the moment, Lincoln Park customers will choose from sandwiches rather than bao.

So where would a confused customer begin to order his or her drink out of the numerous flavor and tea combinations?

“I would say the Chai Five is the best,” Daliege said. “It’s a black milk tea with Chai and almond.”

“I really like the York,” Daliege said as a suggested alternative to the spicier chai. “It’s a black milk tea with peppermint and chocolate. It tastes like a liquid York peppermint patty.”

Angelica Barriga, a DePaul freshman, reassures those who may long for the return of Forever Yogurt, even though Bee & Tea still claims its former site’s roots.

“I prefer this over the Forever Yogurt,” she said.

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Bee & Tea brings boba, treats to Lincoln Park