Despite Objections, Boozy Tea Bar Bid Gains Approval

Evy Chen, left, explains her bid to add alcoholic drinks to the lineup at her tea bar on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.

Chris Helms

Evy Chen, left, explains her bid to add alcoholic drinks to the lineup at her tea bar on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.

The idea of white tea mojitos being served along the Southwest Corridor Park raised eyebrows but ultimately won a thumb’s up from a neighborhood advisory board.

Tea Bar at EvyTea on Amory Street is seeking a full liquor license. If successful, the tiny tea house would serve drinks like adult hot chocolate and boozy chai.

While several community members embraced the idea as innovative and just the thing for JP, others saw a dangerous precedent.

Kristen Valachovic, owner of JP restaurant Vee Vee, spoke up for the plan by tea bar owner Evy Chen to add a kick to the tea house’s options.

“We need to maybe expand our horizons a bit,” Valachovic said. “I don’t see this becoming a tea-fueled frenzy of alcohol.”

Jake Hart, however, a longtime JP resident and member of the local board reviewing Chen’s proposal, saw just those sorts of problems being a possibility.

“This is not a good idea,” said Hart, who went on to cast the lone “no” vote to the proposal. It passed the JP Neighborhood Council’s Public Service Committee 6-1, plus one abstention.

Hart said allowing alcohol at a tea house might open the door for booze at any number of other types of businesses.

Evy Chen, owner of the Tea Bar at EvyTea on Amory Street

David Ertischek

Evy Chen, owner of Tea Bar at EvyTea on Amory Street.

The Tuesday meeting of the JPNC board was held at Curtis Hall Community Center.

Chen outlined how the full license would allow her to better serve the events and “pop-ups” held at 253 Amory St.

Chen opened Tea Bar at EvyTea on Amory Street this past May, and started the cold brew tea business in 2012.

The Tea Bar had a Boston Licensing Board hearing Sept. 21 for a 7-day all-alcohol license, but asked for a deferment on the board’s decision so Chen and other Tea Bar representatives could meet with neighbors to discuss the business’ desire for the license.

In addition to meeting with the JPNC committee, Chen also met with Egleston Square Main Street and hopes to speak with the Brewery District Neighborhood Crime Watch and the Brookside Neighborhood Association.

“Hopefully that will help people understand our concept a bit more,” Chen previously told Jamaica Plain News. “It will be both outside and inside. [The drinks would complement] finger foods, snacks, food items prepped by our pop-up partners.”

Chen also created an ipetition to gain neighborhood support for the liquor license. The petition was started Sept. 14, and as of Oct. 9 had gathered 204 signatures in support of the license.

The Tea Bar has an outdoor herb garden on Amory Street

David Ertischek

The Tea Bar has an outdoor herb garden on Amory Street.

The desired hours to serve alcoholic beverages would be 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Public Service Committee’s recommendation in hand helps support Chen’s argument when she appears in front of the city’s licensing board. That board, as well as a state authority, must approve the plan.

  • Eric Herot

    “Hart said allowing alcohol at a tea house might open the door for booze at any number of other types of businesses.”

    God forbid…

  • Robert Ellis

    Why has JP News refused for days to cover the story of a person (now identified as a high school student) being shot to death in Egleston?

  • Marty

    and the connection is….?