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Teapioca takeover: Phan Shin owner steps up

The new owner of Teapioca hopes to make the hot spot for Asian students more accessible to all. She also plans on adding new snack items to the menu.

Photo by Frankie Roskam

New owner says the tea shop will be undergoing change, including a new shop name and menu

By Caitlin Lamb, For The Miami Student

Early this past summer, two young Oxford business owners closed up their shop for the last time. After just eight months in business, the future looked bleak for Teopioca. That is, until another local business owner stepped in.

"Oxford is a very special market; not everyone can take it," said Yvonne Lin, current owner of Teapioca and Phan Shin.

Having purchased Phan Shin from its previous owners in 2008, she knew how challenging Oxford business could be.

"At first it was really tough, because the restaurant had been here a long time, and people had a lot of expectations," Lin said. "When I first opened, I didn't even care about making money, I just wanted to break even."

She purchased Teopioca in July, knowing that she would face similar struggles.

"With the students gone, we lost money, but that's okay, I expected it. I spent the summer training people, and getting ready." Lin said.

Krysta Yater, who also works as a staff member at Miami University, was hired in July. Said she could not be happier with the improvements at the shop.

Phan Shin has offered bubble tea for several years, but Lin wanted to do more.

"I love bubble tea, but we just don't have a lot of room at Phan Shin to do much with it," Lin said. "Now we can add a lot more flavors and toppings there."

Bubble Tea is a cold drink with a base of green or black tea infused with fruit juice or milk with tapioca on the bottom.

"The tapioca balls are a fun little pop in the drink, but they really don't have any taste," said Merfy Rice, an Oxford local and an employee at Teapioca.

A bubble tea fan herself, Rice is an expert when it comes to flavors and mixes.

"The coconut and the taro flavors are definitely the most popular flavors," she said. "The taro is actually made from the taro root, which is really bitter. But you can't even tell in the drink; it tastes like a liquid cookie."

Yvonne also plans to upgrade the menu with some quick snacks.

"I want to keep the menu simple, with some authentic Asian snacks, noodles and soups," Lin said. "We've already added spicy noodles, and those have been very popular."

She hopes to change the previous reputation of the store as well.

"The old owners focused mostly on the Asian student population," Lin said. "I want to reach out to everyone. We encourage people to stop in and sample something, and see what they like."

The store will see a name change in the coming months. "The name Teopica is trademarked, but the previous owners didn't tell me," Lin said. She has already picked the new name; Tea Cha House. "Cha" means tea in Chinese.

"I definitely want to keep it relaxed, and the space very bright and open," Lin said. "I want it to be a fun coffee and tea shop, somewhere that you can hang out with friends and enjoy a drink and a snack."