Penn alumni Edmund Lee and Stephanie Chan are on a mission to prove that tea isn’t just for grannies. Their way to do that is by pairing tea with waffles smothered in ice cream and Nutella.
Edmund and Stephanie are preparing for the grand opening of Carina Tea and Waffles on Wednesday, although the store has been open for service since April 2. The shop, located at 37th and Chestnut streets inside of the International House, boasts 36 different kinds of fair trade tea and Belgium-originated Liege waffles.
With their sugar and yeast imported from Belgium, Carina serves a Liege waffle — meaning it is denser, doughier and sweeter than the typical waffle.
“I wanted to bring in something cool and that people could enjoy,” Stephanie said. “Everyone does the macaroons and cookies and I feel like we need something special from what you have on the East Coast.”
Customers can create their own waffles with toppings such as strawberries and Nutella, or opt for original Carina creations. The shop’s bestseller is the Honey Matcha waffle, which is topped with honey, strawberries, crushed cookies and green tea matcha ice cream. Other food selections include cookies and chicken pot pies.
Edmund and Stephanie hand-selected 36 out of 400 to 500 teas to serve in Carina. House favorites include the Hibiscus Crunch, Honey Jazz and Gen Mai Chan — a green tea famous in Japan that includes roasted brown rice. The cafe also serves Counter Culture Coffee and bubble tea.
Carina brings tea and waffles together to break the coffee culture at Penn.
“I want people to drink a little less coffee and enjoy more high quality tea,” Edmund said. He recommended that coffee drinkers try their smoky black tea called Lap Sang Sou Chong if they are interested in trying something new.
Carina has indoor and outdoor seating, with jars of loose-leaf tea on the counter that allow patrons to smell the cafe’s various flavors.
The couple is no stranger to campus. Edmund graduated from Wharton and the College in 2006 and later received his Ph.D. from Penn in 2013 . Stephanie graduated from Penn Law in 2011 . After a four month internship in Brussels, she wanted to bring the Belgian cuisine back with her to the US.
When Carina opens on Wednesday, Penn students will receive $1 off a Liege waffle as part of the grand opening celebration. The shop will also begin normal hours of operation: 12 p.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. until 12 a.m. Friday through Saturday and 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Sundays.
“I want this to be a fun business for people to hang out [at],” Edmund said. “I want people to enjoy tea.”