Boba tea, the trending beverage that seems to be popping up on every corner of the city, is on its way to Bay View
S’Blendid Boba Tea, a business that got its start in 2022 serving up boba drinks at local farmers markets, will be settling into the former salon space at 2229 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. which has been vacant for about four years.
Owner Malee Thao, who debuted S’Blendid Boba Tea more formally at the North Avenue Market last summer, says she is thrilled to be moving forward with plans for her very own brick-and-mortar shop.
“We had a great opportunity to get our feet wet at the North Avenue Market,” Thao says. “But we met with such success in the first few months that we literally outgrew our space. So, we left in January and began looking for a location of our own.”
Initially, Thao set her sites on finding a location in the Wauwatosa area. But when she noted the “for rent” sign on the little blue building in Bay View, she says she couldn’t help but take a look.
“It was the perfect space for what we needed,” she says, noting that she was also excited to open in an area that didn’t yet have an established boba tea shop. “The neighborhood is so pedestrian and pet-friendly, and I love the fact that there’s so much new development going on in the area.”
What to expect
Thao is currently working on finishing up the plans for the space with the help of Jeff Folstad of Solid State Architecture, but she says once the plans are approved by the city, she expects they will move forward rather quickly.
“The space requires a good deal of renovation to meet building codes,” she says. “But I’m feeling really confident that I’m working with the right people to get the job done.”
Thao says the goal is to really “open up” the little 900-square-foot building to create a modern, airy space. To contribute, they will be replacing the small front window with a larger one to let in more light.
Meanwhile, the configuration of the space will allow for a retail counter, as well as seating for about ten customers.
As for the exterior, she says the plan is to repaint it to reflect the S’Blendid brand colors: navy, pink and brass.
On the menu
Thao says the menu at S’Blendid Boba Tea Bay View will feature many of the beverages that were served at the North Avenue Market.
Both fruit and milk teas will be made with a curated selection of loose-leaf teas chosen specifically for their flavor profiles. Currently, Thao says, she is planning on using Jasmine, Ossum black, Oolong and Thai teas for the base of her drinks. Both dairy and non-dairy milk will be available for all drinks and fruit flavors will be achieved with either fruit purees or syrups, some of which will be made in-house.
Among the options that will differentiate S’Blendid from its competition is its selection of housemade cheese teas. While most cheese tea is made with a cheese powder that’s whipped into milk, S’Blendid’s foam will be made fresh with cream cheese, Himalayan sea salt, dairy and sugar for drinks like the Thai Tea Mustache featuring delicious Thai tea topped with a layer of sweet and salty cheese foam.
Thao says she will also be adding a few new items to the menu, including ceremonial matcha and a menu featuring Vietnamese coffee, which is known for its intensely strong, sweet flavor.
Non-caffeinated beverages, including fresh strawberry milk, will also be available.
Beyond beverages, Thao says she’s also excited to be working with FlourBox Sisters to carry their mochi doughnuts, which will be delivered to the shop fresh daily.
Thao says that S’Blendid Boba Tea will continue to operate using sustainable packaging and – even more – continue to donate a portion of their profits to local animal rescue organizations, a cause that’s near and dear to Thao’s heart.
“Once the business is more established, we’ll begin offering boba tea catering services,” she says, “And we are excited to collaborate with other small business owners for local pop-ups and events as we move forward.”
If all goes well, Thao says she hopes to open the tea shop by late October or early November.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.