Dado Tea Makes the Grade at Harvard


On a cold winter night, Dado Tea’s warmth welcomes passersby and regulars alike.

Just steps from the hustle and bustle of Harvard University at 50 Church Street in Cambridge, Mass., the seven-year-old shop is the second location for owners Jennie Song and Namwon Kang, a husband and wife team.

Kang manages the larger first location about eight blocks away at 955 Massachusetts Avenue. However it is Song’s 900 sq. ft. Church Street operation that is mentioned as one of the top ten places to mix with the locals in Eyewitness Travel’s Top 10 Boston.

The shop’s location, ambiance, and healthful food and beverage selections all make the grade in this urban college neighborhood. Not only is Church Street near campus, it’s just around the corner from the Harvard Square subway stop, near entertainment venues, and across the street from parking.

Dado Tea Tea RoomInside, there’s recorded music playing, and an upbeat, modern decor that includes Chinese-style brushwork murals on the pale green walls. A counter with chairs hugs the front wall of windows, which can open in good weather.

“The whole idea when we opened the store was to create a space where people can sit back, reflect, and enjoy face to face conversation with friends,” Song says. Simple wooden chairs and round two- and three-seat tables complete the uncluttered feel.

Song says her customers are middle to upper class, and include families with small children, students, professionals who work in the area, people who live in the neighborhood as well as professors and graduate students from both Harvard and the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dado Tea PastriesWith seating for about 35, the store offers not only tea and pastries, but also specials for breakfast ($3.50), lunch ($7.24) and dinner ($7.95-$9.95). Song added the dinner specials, as well as beer, wine and sake to the menu in the past year. WiFi access is included with any purchase.

Lunch specials, offered Monday-Friday, include a choice of two sandwiches of the day (one choice is vegetarian), fruit or chips, and a drink. Organic salad greens and organic tofu are highlighted on the salad menu, and Song gets her bread from a popular local bakery. Sandwiches ($4.95-$6.25), whole wheat wraps ($5.75-$7.95), a few Asian-inspired rice bowls ($3.50-$7.95) and bi bim bap ($9.95-$11.95) complete the menu.

Dado Tea offers 16 bubble teas ($3.50-$4.50); 17 iced teas ($2.25-$3.75); 22 loose, primarily unblended, teas; 9 herbal teas; and 9 special hot teas, such as green tea latte, ginger tea, and house-made Indian chai. Tea prices range from $2.25 for a mug or cup to go, to $4.50 for a pot for one; people can share the pot for an additional $2.50 each.

Smoothies ($3.75-$4.50) and coffee drinks are on the menu as well. Coffee prices range from $1.65 for a regular-sized cup of coffee to $4 for a large iced mocha. Coffee refills are 95 cents for eat-in patrons, and additional shots of espresso or flavors go for 50 cents.

Food and beverage equipment in this shop includes a Bunn coffee maker, an espresso machine from Nova Semonelli, a Vitamix blender, and a commercial convection oven.

Dado TeaThe Church Street shop, with 5-6 staff, makes about 150 transactions per day, with lunch the busiest time, said Song. Customers typically spend $4-5 for breakfast and $6-10 for lunch and dinner. Traffic throughout the year varies with school schedules and the weather. Winter tends to be slower than the rest of the year.

Sales of loose tea to make at home are steady year round, and Song does bring in some tea pots, mugs, and other accessories to sell during the holidays, but about 95 percent of the store’s sales are from food and beverage, she said. She also offers catering, with sandwich platters, salads, fruit platters, desserts and beverages, for pick up or delivery, and she looks forward to developing this part of the business further.