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Asian Tea, Boba and Lightbulb Glasses Come to Downtown


Tea Alley just celebrated its opening at 40 South First Street.  Tucked alongside a charming paseo, it’s a little jewel of a place with contrasting walls of glass and stone. Infinite variations of tea and boba can be enjoyed encased in digital light bulbs that twinkle while you drink. The light bulb costs extra, but if you have teenagers at home, it makes a great gift.

Tea Alley is very clear expression of owner Jess Shih’s sensibility. It’s youthful and modern while also being cute and warm.  In addition to being able to tailor your milk tea to your taste, with specific percentages of sweetness and ice, you can also select from a dizzying range of stickers and labels with which to bedeck and bedazzle your beverage.

There are snacks as well, as Tea Alley has a kitchen — the fried chicken breast stuffed with cheese was especially tempting on a rainy day!

The City of San Jose was very involved in helping Jess get Tea Alley built out and open. Sal Alvarez of OED helped Tea Alley with a Storefront Assistance Grant, and Xuan Ha, Business Ally worked with Jess through the Streamlined Restaurant Program to make the permit process quicker and smoother.

From left, David Tran/CM Peralez’ office, Sal Alvarez/OED, and holding scissors, Tea Alley owner, Jess Shih

The grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony included David Tran of City Councilmember Raul Peralez’ office. An East San Jose native, he is used to having a selection of boba places, and has been waiting for a Downtown location. With a light rail stop outside the door, and a high school and a university just a few blocks away, we predict that Tea Alley will add a strong Millennial flavor to San Jose’s Historic District.