Out and about on WRAL.com

– For sisters Julia and Lulu, family is everything. Their relatives ‘Taiwanese tea farm and their parents’ noodle shop in Taipei inspired them to open their own concept in the Triangle.

Cha House co-owners Julia Lulu and Lulu’s husband Andy lived in Taiwan before moving to the United States to open their first cafe on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. A friend recommended the Triangle district to me.

“Long story short, we kind of fell in love with the area,” Andy said. “We thought it could be good – it’s family-owned and there is potential for small businesses.”

Julia’s husband Liam helped finalize the menu and prepare the kitchen, and Andy used his business and marketing knowledge to get the cafe going. With the passion and experience of the sisters, Cha House was born.

When the doors opened in 2018, Julia and Lulu were proud to serve tea-based drinks straight from their loved ones’ farms in Taiwan.

“We take great pride in telling people why our tea is different,” said Lulu. “It comes from a real tea farmer and we know where it came from. We visit our producer and we know how they pick and cook our tea leaves.”

Lulu said their family-run tea producer doesn’t normally ship products to America – she had to find a company to help import the tea.

“I was like, ‘We have to find a way, because the tea is amazing,” Lulu said.

Lulu, Julia, and Andy place a mass order for Cha House every three to six months. The tea leaves and other ingredients are shipped overseas to New York City and then delivered to North Carolina. The whole process takes around 40 days.

“Sometimes we worry a little bit because we have these items loose on the ocean,” Andy said with a laugh. “We are always surprised and happy when they arrive.”

In 2019, friends of the family opened a Cha House franchise on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, a popular gathering place for students in the state of North Carolina. Now a third location is coming to the Shoppes of Kildaire near Trader Joe’s in Cary.

Running the brand new Cha House, slated to open in late September, is an exciting endeavor for Andy and Lulu, who live in Apex and have three young children. Julia will remain in Chapel Hill to run the Franklin Street site.

“I have become good friends with clients [in Chapel Hill]”Said Andy.” We would expect the same to happen in Cary. “

Lulu said that operating Cha House and training the staff to prepare classic Taiwanese dishes has been a blessing, and they are excited to do the same in Cary.

“They love to learn – our employees are very adventurous,” said Lulu. “It’s a very overwhelming feeling how much they appreciate our culture and our food.”

Lulu said she and Julia spent much of their youth working in their parents’ busy noodle bar, so she was ready for the hard work it takes to open a restaurant.

“I admire my parents so much and the way they ran their store,” she said.

You can find popular Taiwanese street food at Cha House like scallion pancakes and rice bowls and a full menu of teas and coffees.

Pearl tea from Cha House

The best seller, Lulu said, is the typical boba milk tea, which includes a base of black tea and tapioca boba soaked in brown sugar. Customers new to bubble tea can request a sample to get used to the texture, Lulu suggested.

In the summer, people tend to avoid milk-based drinks and try lighter products like Cha House’s peach oolong or lychee green tea, which contains a special fruit syrup imported from Taiwan.

“The taste is so unique,” ​​Lulu said. “It’s like nothing you can get in the United States.”

Any drink at Cha House can be topped with a cap of cheese – a delicious combination of cream and cream cheese that adds a rich, frothy layer to tea drinks.

Andy and Lulu said opening their new location in Cary during the COVID-19 pandemic was not ideal, but they are always happy to welcome customers. To protect the community and its employees, Cha House has decided to close its dining room and keep the take out and fulfill orders for the time being.

When UNC Chapel Hill made the decision to move classes online in August, Cha House offered students a free boba to brighten up spirits.

“We are in the same boat,” said Lulu.

Look for Cary’s location later this month.

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