WSU students bring authentic Chinese food and bubble tea to downtown Pullman

click to enlarge Find bubble tea and authentic Chinese at Pullman's RealiTea. - MELINA ERNST PHOTO
Melina Ernst photo
Find bubble tea and authentic Chinese at Pullman's RealiTea.

Candy Zhong wanted to bring authentic bubble tea and Chinese food to her college town. While studying business at Washington State University, she planned for two years with partners before opening a restaurant in the heart of downtown Pullman. RealiTea is now celebrating its one-year anniversary this November.

"I want to gain more experience [in the] business world," Zhong says.

Owned and managed by WSU graduate and undergraduate students, RealiTea offers a fresh and welcoming environment. The open-concept kitchen, white walls and simple décor creates a modern and tranquil space for customers and students to enjoy their meal and study. Customers are greeted by a wall stating in all capital letters: "We only use premium tea leaves, no powder."

RealiTea's tea blends are what set the restaurant apart from nearby tea shops. With over 20 shops that serve tea in the Pullman-Moscow area, only two of them specialize in bubble tea. RealiTea uses tea leaves imported from China and freshly brews them every morning, says "boba barista" Linh Nguyen.

A boba barista greets and prepares bubble tea for customers. Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is often made using a milk tea base and sweetener, with soft, sweet and chewy tapioca pearls nestled at the bottom.

"As a barista, you really interact with people and get to know people through making drinks for them," Nguyen says.

RealiTea specializes in sea-salt cream tea and classic milk tea ($4.25-$4.75). Their homemade sea-salt cream tea is made of whipping cream, sugar and sea salt and served with a choice of black, oolong, jasmine or green tea. Customizable toppings include coconut jelly, red beans, pudding and homemade boba.

The cafe's food menu consists of house noodles, bowls, side items and desserts. Popular dishes include the honey orange chicken bowl ($8.75), Szechuan beef noodle soup ($9.25) and deep-fried coconut milk ($4.35). RealiTea also offers daily happy hour from 8-10 pm with a 20 percent discount on all drinks.

Future plans for RealiTea include expanding its menu and adding weekly specials. ♦

RealiTea • 255 E. Main St., Suite 103, Pullman • Open Mon-Thu, 11 am-10 pm; Fri-Sun, 11 am-11 pm • instagram.com/realitea_wa • 432-4326

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