New bubble tea shop opens its doors in Ridgewood

Tsaocaa strives to bring quality food and drink to locals

By Jessica Meditz

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Tsaocaa’s menu includes a wide variety of teas.

Earlier this month, residents of Ridgewood extended a warm welcome to Tsaocaa, a brand new bubble tea shop in the community.

Located at 65-07 Fresh Pond Road, the shop sits in a prime location where both longtime locals and passersby alike can stop in and enjoy a cup of bubble tea.

Wendy Lin, owner of the location, first arrived in the U.S. from Hong Kong almost 22 years ago, and has lived in Ridgewood ever since.

Loosely translated, “Tsaocaa” means “the holy land of tea,” and the franchise’s website looks at its team members as being on the pilgrimage road. Tsaocaa has over 100 locations across the U.S.

Tsaocaa opened its doors on Jan. 7

Lin feels this sentiment resonates with her own journey in the restaurant industry.

“I really like milk tea; I make myself one every day. But the ones that I make for myself versus the ones at Tsaocaa are totally different, as they use different types of tea, different roasts,” she explained. “Basically what we do is to try to fulfill whatever the Ridgewood area needs, and want to bring something special here.”

Tsaocaa’s menu includes various types of roasts, including sakura, jasmine and green tea. They offer a wide variety of options, including classic and slush style fruit tea, fruit mojitos, milk swirl and milk bubble tea.

Flavors across the menu range from grapefruit, mango, strawberry, kiwi, dragon fruit, lychee, blueberry, peach and many more.

Lin said that Tsaocaa is unique in that its teas not only taste great, but consist solely of pure, natural ingredients. Presentation is also of utmost importance, as their products are also served in an aesthetically pleasing way.

This is not Lin’s first endeavor in food and beverage, as she also owns Sushi Yoshi, which is located at the same site.

Lin’s other food business, Sushi Yoshi, is at the same site as Tsaocaa.

She’s been making sushi at the location for eight years, and its varieties include classic sushi rolls and signature rolls – such as the “Fresh Pond Roll” – which includes salmon, fresh pineapple and crunch topped with avocado and black caviar with mango sauce.

Other options include bowls, burritos, burgers, egg waffles, soups and salads.

Lin said that despite opening up so recently, she already has several regulars who stop by multiple times per week.

She’s thrilled to serve her community.

“I hear so many customers say they’ve been waiting to see this kind of location in the Ridgewood area, and we already have regulars,” Lin said. “That makes me so happy.”

Tsaocaa is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and online ordering options such as UberEats, Grubhub and DoorDash – as well as their own online ordering service:

Pressure to make ‘to go’ drinks permanent

Restaurant owners say temporary move was COVID lifeline


Local restaurant owners are putting pressure on state lawmakers to make alcoholic beverages “to go” a permanent fixture in their establishments.

“We suffered a 90 percent decline in revenue when the first shutdown went into effect… and it has been a rollercoaster ride ever since,” Loycent Gordon, the owner of Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven said.

The policy was put into effect as part of the New York State emergency order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to try and help struggling restaurants stay afloat.

When the emergency order expired last summer, so too did restaurants and bars serving “to go” cocktails and wine.

Historic Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, Queens, N.Y.

“This has been one of the lifelines that we needed that unfortunately expired,” Gordon said. “Alcohol to go is going to be one of those things that can help to add an additional revenue stream in a time where we have gone through so much and actually incurred so much debt.”

The New York State Restaurant Association held simultaneous press conferences with bar and restaurant owners all across the state to try and persuade legislators to adopt Gov. Hochul’s Executive Budget proposal, which they said includes a provision that would allow the sale of “to go” drink orders permanently.

Last June, state lawmakers attempted to pass a similar measure allowing “to go” drinks to be a permanent fixture, but according to The New York Times, it was thwarted by lobbyists with the liquor store industry, which had directed tens of thousands of dollars in political donations.

Dan Connor, the owner of Donovan’s Pub in Woodside, said he didn’t know why the liquor industry was fighting restaurant and bar owners over the sale of cocktails and wine to go after experiencing record sales numbers during the pandemic.

“I’m not sure why the liquor industry is fighting us on this,” Connor said. “We’re not selling bottles.”

Melissa Fleishut, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association said that the same relief that was once needed at the height of the pandemic is still necessary now.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, struggling restaurants were able to boost sales and keep doors open through the ability of selling alcoholic beverages with their orders,” Fleischut said. “The restaurant industry needs stability now more than ever, and by making ‘alcohol-to-go’ permanent we can encourage a strong recovery. It’s popular with operators and customers alike. The numbers don’t lie.”

According to a study conducted by the association, out of the 700 New Yorkers polled, approximately 78 percent were in favor of such a law.

“It makes no sense whatsoever,” Arelia Taveras, president of the New York State Latino Restaurant Association, said. “We need to have equality and fairness in this industry.”

Taveras said that before the pandemic there were close to 26,000 restaurants in New York and now more than half are gone, many of which were in underserved communities.

“It’s increasing crime. There’s no employment. I mean, what are we doing here,” Taveras added. “Let’s let restaurants breathe. If anything they should be advocating for loosening the laws on restaurants so that everybody can come back.”

Monir Zamel, the owner of Andrew’s Coffee Shop in Midtown, has been in business since the 60s and 70s. During that time his business weathered several catastrophes including multiple recessions, 9/11, and Superstorm Sandy.

“I’ve never seen anything that impacted my business the same way that COVID-19 has,” Zamel said. “It was like living in a nightmare.”

Calls for response from the New York State Liquor Store Association were not returned as of press time.

Plans for a policy to enable restaurants and bar owners to serve cocktails and wine “to go” will be decided on by state lawmakers as part of the state budget.

Hochul’s budget proposal also includes a Restaurant Resiliency Program, aimed at providing $25 million in grant funding to restaurants providing meals to distressed and underrepresented communities, and a Restaurant “Return-To-Work” tax credit for small independently owned restaurants.

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