The Alley opened its first New York City location on Sunday with limited hours at 68 Cooper Square, between East Fourth and East Fifth streets, with plans to open fully this upcoming weekend, according to EV Grieve. This week, the Alley is giving away a $5 voucher for people that spend $10 at the shop until it opens with more hours on Saturday, September 7.
It’s a 1,000-square-foot space with about 30 seats, offering about two dozens teas that range from bubble tea to fruit tea. Tons of milk tea lovers lined up outside for the soft opening, photos on the Alley’s Facebook page show.
The brand is uber-popular with health-conscious, young Chinese bubble tea lovers: Instead of using artificial syrup, the Alley makes its own from Taiwanese sugarcane, most of the ingredients are imported from Taiwan, and its tapioca pearls are made in-house. Its most popular item is the “brown sugar deerioca” made with creme brûlée milk, an aesthetically pretty ombre-looking drink that nods to the brand’s deer logo.
Since opening in 2015, the chain has grown to 300 locations across Taiwan, China, Japan, Canada, France, Australia, and California, with much of its success due to its popularity on social media. Its Instagrammable sweet drinks and decor have generated a following online — milk tea fans are known to line up for hours for new store openings. In China, such shops are called “internet celebrity tea,” meaning the tea goes viral overnight on social media, like internet celebrities.
The new tea shop is open this week from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and hours will expand to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. this Saturday.