TeaDM: Yes, That’s Bubble Tea + EDM

This Falls Church shop explores an unnatural marriage.

TeaDM original milk tea. Photo by Hannah Berman.

Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought to yourself, “God, I would love a bubble tea right now, but I also wish I could be listening to hardcore electronic music while paying for it”?

If so, TeaDM, located in Falls Church’s Eden Center, is the answer to your prayers. This bubble tea lounge is designed with the EDM music lover in mind: its logo features a cup of bubble tea with headphones on, it is only lit by neon light, and, most importantly, there are bass-heavy, wordless dance tunes pumping through the tube-like space every hour of the day til 8pm (or 9pm, on weekends).

Interior and sign at TeaDM. Photos by Hannah Berman.

Somehow, TeaDM is not the only establishment to try to combine bubble tea and the rave mentality. In 2016, a 22-year old entrepreneur and rave fiend by the name of Joey Tran opened a store called Gosu in San Francisco. Like TeaDM, Gosu was an EDM-themed bubble tea shop. Unlike TeaDM, Gosu was actually open late hours, and its store featured a DJ station where local artists could try their hand at spinning a few records. Gosu also adopted a philosophy that originated in the EDM community: PLUR, or “Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect.” Profiles of Joey were published in EaterSF and SFist, and Gosu finally opened to considerable anticipation.

Yet despite all the hype and all of Joey’s best-laid plans, it doesn’t really seem like Gosu was a hit. (See this YouTube video of people awkwardly standing around and chatting, instead of raving.) Just as soon as it arrived, it was gone: after only a year and a half in operation, Gosu closed down. Now, according to LinkedIn, Joey is a shift supervisor at Starbucks.

Baffling interior design at TeaDM is made to look like a plane. Photo by Hannah Berman.

Meanwhile, across the country in Falls Church, TeaDM was born. Founded by owner Jay Tran (not Joey, Jay!), TeaDM’s opening went mostly unannounced. He didn’t get profiled anywhere; in fact, very few traces of Jay Tran are discernible on the Internet at all. TeaDM’s product had to speak for itself.

Although Jay and Joey had the same exact idea at the same exact time, when Joey’s store closed, Jay’s expanded. Now, TeaDM has additional locations in nearby Vienna, Fairfax, and Sterling, with rumors of one more branch coming to Loudoun. Maybe the difference in their success is just due to location—it could be that San Franciscans were already over EDM by the time Joey opened his shop, whereas DC folks were just getting into it. Yet no matter what it was that helped TeaDM fly while Gosu sank, the DC version of the bubble tea lounge is still thriving today.

Let’s be honest: you’ve probably never woken up from dreaming of EDM bubble tea, like Jay or Joey way back in 2016. Even so, there’s joy to be had at TeaDM. Order a dairy-free milk tea, lean back into a modified plane seat, stare out the oval plane windows at the cloud graphics (oh, did I mention that the store is inexplicably shaped like the interior of a plane?), and sip your bubble tea as the music washes over you — it’s not quite like being on a plane, or at an EDM concert, or even in a bubble tea store, but there’s something ultimately thrilling about the strange combination. Much like a friendship between a goat and a dog, TeaDM’s unlikely pairing of tea and beats might make you scratch your head for a second, but it’ll also make you smile.

Read more musings at Do Not Disturb, Hannah is Eating, or subscribe to get the newsletter delivered to your inbox here.

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