Milk tea, aka bubble tea or boba, was once a fad; now it’s a staple of dessert drinks, a place to duck from the heat, meet up with friends and catch a little free Wi-Fi.

The milk tea genre has been in the Bay Area long enough to develop aficionados like Candy Gomez and Caleb Bui, who became such avid fans they created their own shop selling organic fusion teas. The husband and wife team opened Tea Lyfe in January in San Jose’s Little Saigon district, an area not known for appreciating organic products or paying the markup for it. A milk tea shop may not sound groundbreaking to some, but serving organic products in this area of San Jose with dense Vietnamese and Latino populations is risk taking.

Candy and Caleb grew up in San Jose, so they’re passionate about their product as well as their store location. They took on the extra challenge of growing the market for authentic and healthy milk tea, while most shops in this area make drinks from powdered flavor additives.

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The owners personally curate the gourmet teas, which are brewed fresh each day and mixed with organic milk. The couple believes that “a good product is a good product, even if people don’t understand organics [they] do come and ask for healthier products.” Candy’s Latino background and Caleb’s Vietnamese heritage blend together for one-of-a-kind creations like horchata milk tea or the Vietnamese coffee version, VietChata, and Vietnamese coffee-flavored waffles that taste surprisingly like churros.

Tea Lyfe’s ambitions don’t stop at sourcing organically, though. They also strive to source locally by choosing delicious macarons made by San Jose-based Macahhrun (fun bonus: they come in shapes of animals and superheroes), organic milk from Straus Family Creamery and Made in America reusable glass milk bottles.

Tea Lyfe gets a mixed crowd of San Jose State students, people who work at the shop using the free Wi-Fi and a young adult crowd just a bit older than the teens who often frequent milk tea shops. Gomez and Bui are trying to expand their reach by giving out samples at Veggielution and selling on weekends at River of Life Church. They want to convey the message that people should care about what they put into their bodies, as well as what a business gives back to its community.

Tea Lyfe has an eye on changing the organics scene in San Jose, one cup of milk and tea at a time.

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