Tama Tea combines an enjoyable ambiance and a unique product backed by environmentally sound food practices to create a pleasant third place for people to congregate in.
- Location: 105 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
- Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-9pm; Saturday 8am-9pm; Sunday 9am-9pm
- Contact: (919) 391-3706; Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat: @tamateaco
- Website: www.tamatea.com
- Expect to spend: $2-6 on a drink
Tar Heel Tips
- Grab a tea or coffee before class in the mornings, eat a light lunch, or study after the sun goes down- there’s never a bad time to visit
- Known for their wide array of tea flavors- try as many as you can!
- It’s always a good time to walk down Franklin while your drink cools and check out all the other fun stores
Not Your Average Coffee Shop
Looking for a comfortable place to grab a drink and study, but tired of the dime-a-dozen coffee shops that pop up all the time? Tama Tea is an up and coming cafe located on prime Franklin Street property. It focuses on creating a pleasing environment for customers and offering a unique, environmentally conscious product. The pleasant little tea shop combines the traditional appeal of a cafe with the novelty of a wide array of interesting beverages- they offer everything from a hearty, spicy tea to the much-loved bubble tea. Tama Tea looks poised to upset the coffee shop status quo and become a beloved gathering space for the students of Chapel Hill.
Ambiance and Atmosphere
The mood inside Tama Tea is curated with care. The space feels clean and large, but not oppressively so. Minimalist design gives the restaurant a tasteful, reserved feel while still appearing modern and trendy. According to a review by Samantha Yi for the Daily Tar Heel, “the interior design was bright but still cozy, with mint green and soft black colors dominating the room”.  That about sums it up- Tama Tea creates a welcoming, comfortable vibe while foregoing the rustic, vintage decor so many coffee shops cling to.
Crafting a Third Place
All of the very purposeful considerations that give Tama Tea its wonderful atmosphere are what make it a great third place as well- which is what, exactly?
Great question! The definition is as literal as it may seem- a place in which you spend time that isn’t your home or work. However, what truly makes somewhere a third place, or at least an effective or popular one, is more up in the air. Lisa Waxman found that it boils down to five key design characteristics: cleanliness, appealing aroma, adequate lighting, comfortable furniture, and a view to the outside.  Tama Tea knocks it out of the park in every category. They keep the place spick-and-span. It’s impossible to not enjoy the lovely smell of all the different kinds of tea being served. The lighting is bright, but comfortable. Multiple seating options exist. And, last but not least, the view out the front goes a long way to making Tama Tea feel like an inviting place to spend some time- and we’ll get into this next.
Dale (1982, p. 45) found that “people had stronger preferences for interior sitting areas that were partially enclosed and afforded a view to the adjacent areas or to the outdoors”.  Tama Tea acknowledges this preference by incorporating a wall of large windows into the face of the store, providing a choice view of the entertaining hustle and bustle of Franklin Street. The theory makes sense- no one wants to spend time in a building that feels like a prison cell!
A Holistic Experience
When we visit a restaurant, we visit for more than just food. Obviously that’s the focal point, but who wants to eat at a place that looks like a dump? The findings of a study done by Kisang Ryu, Hye‐Rin Lee, and Woo Gon Kim (2012, p. 4) on the factors that influence customer experience in a restaurant indicate that “restaurant image can be influenced by not only good food but also by pleasant physical surroundings and good service”. They also posit that “today, an exotic experience solely depending on food may not be enough to attract and maintain consumers to a restaurant.”  This gives reason to Tama Tea’s focus on crafting a complete, enjoyable experience . It’s not enough to simply offer good food- the whole package must be included. It’s vital for restaurants to foster a positive image in the eyes of the customers, and Tama Tea is clearly cognizant of what it takes.
Coffee shops have to provide more of an experience than a lot of other types of food sites. After all- they’re not only a place of food consumption, they’re places of relaxation, of studying, of catching up with acquaintances. Tama Tea’s food is definitely up to snuff, though. With menu items like the Basecamp, which consists of almond butter, bananas, and cinnamon on multigrain toast, and the Marlin, a grilled cheese with spinach, bacon, and provolone on sourdough, there’s something to please even the most discerning of millennials. Combining that with the pleasant atmosphere that caters to Chatty Kathy and Studious Steve alike creates a winning recipe.
Tama Tea really feels like one of those places you can go, sit down, and chat away with close friends for hours. Or, if it’s finals week and it’s time to get on the grind, a place where you could get some work done with an energizing beverage keeping you going. If you ever find yourself wanting a drink but wishing you could branch out a bit from your usual frappuccino, give this fun little tea shop a try.
Resources Yi, Samantha. “Review: Tama Tea could be competition for surrounding cafes.” The Daily Tar Heel, The Daily Tar Heel, 12 Nov. 2017, www.dailytarheel.com/article/2017/11/tama-tea-1112.  Waxman, Lisa. “The Coffee Shop: Social and Physical factors Influencing Place Attachment.” Journal of Interior Design, vol. 31, no. 3, 2006, pp. 35–53., doi:10.1111/j.1939-1668.2006.tb00530.x.  Kisang Ryu, Hye‐Rin Lee, Woo Gon Kim, (2012) “The influence of the quality of the physical environment, food, and service on restaurant image, customer perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intentions”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 24 Issue: 2, pp.200-223, https://doi.org/10.1108/09596111211206141