Since I grew up in California, I’ve always had plenty of access to Asian-inspired snack shops that offer little fried snacks and bubble tea (or “boba” as they call it in in SoCal). Now that I’ve relocated to Philadelphia though, I’ve come to realize that I totally took those places for granted. Thankfully, Carina Tea & Waffles has arrived to quench all of my bubble tea cravings. At first I was confused why the restaurant chose to emphasize its tea and waffles. After trying it out, though, I can say that the weird combination works just like other weird combos do (donuts and chicken, anybody?).
Carina Tea & Waffles is located in the International House on Chestnut St. It’s a little hard to find at first, but they have a nice blue sign that makes it pretty clear. The inside of the store is chic with modern steel-y decor decorating the artsy wooden walls. The whole place is homey and comfortable too sporting around five tables of casual bench-style seating. Steel canisters of fancy teas like hibiscus and lychee line the walls behind the baristas. The menus are easy to read, and it has the cool iPad ordering system everyone loves (woo!).
After debating between the herbal teas, milk teas, fresh cookies or waffles, my friend and I decided to order two herbal teas: the “Hibiscus Crunch” tea and the “Tropicana” tea (you can customize your drinks and add things like fruit and boba too). We also got a “Honey Matcha Green Tea” waffle, which came with fresh strawberries and green tea ice cream. The teas served in little mason jars were delicious, not to mention gorgeous. They both had fresh tea leaves, various herbs and little bits of chewy jelly floating around. I can safely say I enjoyed the fun, unique combinations of flavors entering my mouth (does that sound weird? Sorry). The waffle was the real winner, though. It was warm, cooked perfectly and accompanied by some sort of funky honey that really complimented the ice cream. Also, did I mention that it had cookie crumbles on top? Just thinking about it makes me hungry again.
Our snacks did take around 10-15 minutes to come out, but since the store’s soft opening was just last week, I think it’s okay to cut them some slack (the frazzled employees told me they had “only been working there for 3 days!”). Though it’s not necessarily the cheapest option for a drink on campus (as drinks are usually $3.50 and waffles are around $7), Carina Tea & Waffles is a great place to snack, sip, sit and chat with a friend. So next time you’re deciding whether to stop by the ever-crowded HubBub or the questionable Starbucks under Commons, take my advice and try out this new gem on campus.
Location: 3701 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sun: 12 pm-6 pm (may change once fully opened).