Stay cozy during these winter days by popping into the only modern tea house in the Detroit area. Read how our coffee-loving writer finally learns to love tea thanks to Eli Tea.
I’ve walked past Eli Tea in downtown Birmingham countless times and always thought about going in but, truthfully, felt a bit intimidated. I’m a passionate coffee drinker. I drink it black and often. But when it comes to tea, I find anything beyond the simple green variety daunting.
There are so many options, so many ingredients, and each offers a different benefit. Oolong tea provides mental clarity. Chamomile tea promotes relaxation. Peppermint tea strengthens your immune system. I start to feel overwhelmed before I can even order. I revert to my default, “Coffee, please. Black.”
This changed recently when I finally stepped into Eli Tea. I ask a friend to join me — it’s Friday night and we’re ready to par-tea. (Okay, I promise not to do that more than once.)
When we walk in, a wonderful aroma and cozy ambiance instantly envelops us. Quickly greeted by a friendly barista? Check. Ample, comfortable seating and space? Check. And then I see that there is free Wi-Fi. Yep, I could spend a lot of time here.
I’m actually thinking I may have found my newest sanctuary when I remember we still have decisions to make. Tea decisions. And, Eli Tea has a lot of options. But, the tea barista walks us through it, and easily answers our newbie questions.
My friend and I are both curious about the bubble tea. Per the menu description, “Bubble tea is an iced milk brew of tea with chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom.” They brew each bubble tea from scratch, and offer you a choice of dairy, soy, almond, or rice milk. Bubbles teas are usually brewed iced, but they’ll also brew it warm if you request it.
We choose the Cinnamon Rooibos and the Rose White Matcha varieties. The menu touts these as tasting like “rice pudding,” and “12 dozen roses,” respectively. I’m glad to see the Cinnamon Rooibos has zero caffeine and the Rose White Matcha has low caffeine. Just because it’s a Friday night doesn’t mean I want to be wired. The menu also lists all ingredients and calorie content. (I love that! Zero guessing.)
At the last minute, I add a hot chai tea to my order, too. (Look at me! I’m branching out from coffee!)
Our beverages arrive and it’s time to taste-test.
The iced bubble tea is like a guilt-free dessert. It’s everything I love about an iced latte with a twist—those bubbles!
The flavors live up to their names, too. The Rose White Matcha is like drinking 12 Dozen Roses…in the best possible way. The Cinnamon Rooibos tastes just like the holiday season. And, my chai tea arrives at the perfect temperature with just the right balance of spices.
My friend and I agree we want to come back and sample the entire menu. That may sound a little extreme but Eli Tea has so much on the menu. (They even have pour-over coffee! I may be learning to love tea, but I’m not leaving my coffee behind.) And the prices are affordable.
I also love that Eli Tea supports local artists, has a variety of tea-related products for sale, and keeps games like checkers on hand for customers to play. Little touches like these make me want to seek out a local business every time. When an owner is passionate about what they bring to the community, it shows in every detail.
And now, to answer the question: “To Eli Tea or not to Eli Tea?” My answer is to Eli Tea, 100%.
Why should you check it out?
- You’re looking for a fun place to sit across from your friend in silence while you both scroll through Instagram.
- You want to try something new and need a tea recommendation from the well-versed staff.
- You’re looking for a cute gift for the tea lover in your life.
- You just want a stress-free place to read, relax, or get some work done.
I could go on! There are plenty of reasons to visit and see for yourself why Eli Tea is the charming, modern day tearoom that metro Detroit needs. Now pop on over and order yourself a bubble tea!
Eli Tea Bar (108 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham) is open Monday through Wednesday (8am to 10pm), Thursday through Saturday (8am to 11pm), and Sunday (10am to 6pm).
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