photos by Savannah Reeves

As the end of the semester rapidly approached, our members were hard at work preparing for the college’s UNLVino. The Epicurean Society is also steadily crafting plans for our second annual Hawaiian Night fundraiser, a night that will feature all-you-can-eat Hawaiian dishes and an open bar for drinking age attendees, all put on by our members. With all the work being done, our monthly outing was a welcome break from the organized chaos that is event planning.

It had recently come to our attention that a tea shop with a bubble tea bar exists. Commonly referred to as “Boba Tea,” this drink comes in a multitude of varieties. Traditionally, it is a tea-based drink with added milk and delectably chewy tapioca pearls. Our members are avid fans of the drink. Yet, between all of us, we had never heard of such a concept. We knew we had to check it out for ourselves in our monthly outing. The tea shop in question is called Tea Way Plus, nestled in a corner down Spring Mountain Rd. I reached out to the owner, Sherry, and she was happy to accommodate our group and even teach us along the way. 

Walking in, the shop is welcoming and cozy, a relaxed space to mingle with friends or study for that next exam. Sherry gave us a warm greeting and showed us the expansive menu, not even including the buffet of options available at the toppings bar. From the traditional milk teas to an avocado sea salt cream drink, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Sherry and her husband make everything they can in-house, using real fruit, loose leaf teas and fresh brown sugar Boba. No powders or unnatural dyes. They showed us their tea making procedures and how to properly make and hold the tapioca pearls. We were then shown the main attraction, the toppings bar. Here, you’ll find a wide variety of toppings; some are rotated regularly to keep it interesting. During our visit, we had options such as mango pudding, classic tapioca pearls, sweet red bean, an array of different jellies and much more. 

To order, you first must choose your base drink. Besides the traditional tea-based drinks in a multitude of flavors, there are some unique creations to choose from as well. Sherry recommended their butterfly pea tea latte coming in a variety of flavors such as mango and strawberry. After choosing your drink, you’ll receive your empty cup to fill. While you may add as many toppings as your heart desires, they will mark your cup with the recommended amount of toppings, to leave room for tea of course. Choosing your own drink additions certainly makes the process much more fun and creative. This is also the hardest part, as there are so many to choose from. After you finish selecting your toppings, you place your cup on the counter to add the tea. 

The butterfly pea tea latte can only be described as Instagram-worthy. After toppings, they add a layer of fresh fruit with milk, and top it off with the bright blue tea. Sherry taught us the process of layering a drink. The trick, she explained, is ice and the back of a regular spoon. After the latte is carefully layered, it is placed in a machine to be sealed. You then have your beautiful drink! Once you are finished admiring the well-crafted beverage, you will be instructed to shake it up. This is almost another experience itself as the drink will change color. The latte itself was pleasantly sweet and refreshing, perfect for a warm day in Las Vegas.

As we eagerly sipped our drinks, they were kind enough to provide a sample of the loose-leaf butterfly pea tea. We later used this to become tea mixologists ourselves. Brewing butterfly pea tea is entrancing, leaving us in awe of how a bright blue color can exist naturally. Our members then demonstrated their own food science skills. We layered lemonade, as taught by Sherry, over the sweetened tea. The acidity of the lemon mixed with the tea creates another natural color phenomenon, a bright violet generally only found in dyes. We later showed our work to Sherry who gave us her stamp of approval. 

Overall, our students were truly delighted by this outing. Together, we discovered new concepts and learned a lot along the way. Tea Way Plus has become a new favorite of our group and we have since been back more than once. Not only is it a fun concept featuring quality drinks, it’s run by a couple full of heart and passion. It is these quality relationships that build the core of good hospitality, connections that have made Las Vegas what it is today.