Steap Tea Opens In Chinatown And Their Founder Is Bringing Taiwan's Version Of Boba To Your Soul
And Emil DeFrancesco, founder of Steap Tea, is serious bae goals.
Transplanted from New York, the new owner wants to bring his balls of Taiwan taste to the residents of SF but more specifically Chinatown. After conceptualizing his own bubble tea spot three years ago, DeFrancesco took the dive to deliver his own version of boba to the masses.
With a bartending background—he first started in 2006 and has been mixing drinks on-and-off ever since—this helped him develop new tea drinks. “The mixology background helps me serve people drinks all day for kids, adults, and everyone in between," he told Hoodline.
We passed the storefront in our own curiosity to get to know boba outside the box we've come to known. We were pleasantly surprised to see the mix of people lounging, drinking, and vibing with the hole in the wall bubble tea store. We bought a Strawberry Almond Milk Pearl from an extremely helpful cashier who recommended more items from their limited menu. To keep things fresh, Steap Tea Bar sources most of their teas and ingredients through a business partner from Taiwan. DeFrancesco also makes most of his toppings, including tapioca boba and coconut shavings, from scratch, daily.
Luckily, we got a glimpse of DeFrancesco working hard in the back concocting drinks (without breaking a sweat might we add.) But we've also got to admit, DeFrancesco is quite the looker. DeFrancesco's big picture reflects him as a whole: drink development, the space's modern design, and even the soundtrack, consisting mostly of old-school R&B tracks. Despite the competition from the many other bubble tea shops in the area, the native New Yorker was attracted to Chinatown because it reminded him of home.
Of course, everything is made to order and offers a limited menu. Customers can build their own or choose from the cafe's signature bubble tea drinks, which includes more traditional offerings like jasmine jade (jasmine green tea, honey, and lime) or DeFrancesco's inventions, like pink kitty (strawberry and lychee syrup and muddled lime).
// 827 Sacramento Street., Chinatown, Tues — Fri: 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sat: 12 p.m. - 9 p.m., Sun: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., steapteabar.com