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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Ousted from Shenkman Hall, Teashi finds new home in Dupont Circle

After being forced out by GW to make way for a new dining hall, the owners of Teashi have a cozy new home near Dupont Circle.
Jordan Tovin | Assistant Photo Editor
Teashi owner Lisa Lin sips a bubble tea in the Chinese eatery’s Dupont Circle location – the business’s new post after vacating Shenkman Hall in February 2022.

The basement of Shenkman Hall is now home to a bustling dining hall, a maze of buffets that are corporate both in taste and aesthetic.

But the operators of one family-owned restaurant are learning to love their new home after they were forced to leave the basement of Shenkman after GW ended its lease to build the dining hall.

Traditional Chinese eatery Teashi, run by the married couple of owner Lisa Lin and chef Steve Yuan, was forced to leave campus in February 2022 and has since moved to a cozy spot in Dupont Circle. Known as a Shenkman staple for the restaurant’s bubble tea and rice and noodle bowls, Lin said they were disappointed when GW informed them they would have to leave campus.

“We were very sad because students really loved us,” she said.

Lin said she and Yuan opened Teashi in 2017 — she previously worked as a molecular biologist for the Department of Agriculture before jumping into the restaurant business. She said her dramatic career pivot came about because her husband studied tea-making during his time at university.

“My husband’s major is about tea,” she said. “And we have experience there. So we have Teashi.”

Yuan said the couple chose to set up shop at GW because they both worked at a university when they lived in China and felt the environment at GW was a mirror image of where they once lived. Before officially opening in Shenkman’s basement, Yuan said they made a sample of sweet and sour chicken, beef rice balls, soup, dim-sum and bubble tea for GW staff and students.

Yuan said the family initially struggled to find a new location for Teashi after leaving GW’s campus, as they wanted to stay near their regular customer base, but many of the available spaces were too big for the family-owned business’ needs, with rents too high. He said after diving deep into internet listings, they eventually found their current, cozy space just about a 15-minute walk from campus near Dupont Circle.

After a bit of maintenance to get the shop up and running, Teashi reopened at the end of July. Yuan said he spent much of the transition period modifying his rice and noodle bowl recipes to improve the flavors and decrease the amount of sugar in the veggie dishes.

“And all the customers have it, they really like it,” Lin said of her husband’s efforts. “So right now we can check the Google reviews, so all they give us is five-star reviews.”

Yuan said his excitement about reopening the restaurant has been fueled by the large number of repeat customers they have gotten.

“What I really appreciate is many people come back again, again, again,” he said.

Yuan said unlike most other Chinese restaurants in the U.S., Teashi offers customers traditional Chinese food as opposed to an Americanized version of a meal. He said he personally enjoys items like the spicy chicken rice bowl ($9.95) and pork rice bowl ($9.95) and wanted to share the meals with eager students.

“So this food, actually, I and my daughter eat almost every day,” he said.

In addition to Yuan’s beloved rice bowls, Teashi sells noodle bowls ($10.95 to $11.95), ramen ($11.95 to $12.95) and, of course, tea. Yuan said his time in school pouring over the intricacies of tea taught him how tea, milk and sugar can combine to create particular flavors, like their taro bubble teas. He said that while the most common type of taro people encounter is purple, the taro that comes with Teashi’s boba-filled concoctions is white because it is fresh.

“So some customers complain ‘Oh no your taro isn’t purple,’” he said. “Actually, we use fresh taro.”

Despite his expertise in the tea field, Yuan said he mostly handles cooking the food these days, while Lin is the store manager and takes orders from customers. Instead, the process of preparing the titular teas falls to the couple’s daughter, Amy Yuan.

“I am the bubble tea person,” she said.

Lin said when Teashi was based at GW, most of their customers consisted of students. She said on their final day of working in Shenkman, Feb. 28, 2022, students poured out of the woodwork to get one last bubble tea.

“The last night lots of students came in to give us their greetings,” she said.

In an effort to reconnect with GW students, Lin said they are trying to get the restaurant back on GWorld. She said she wants to let GW students know that Teashi is back.

But despite the troubles in spreading awareness about the new spot, Lin said some loyal GW students have managed to find their way back to Teashi, with one student recently coming in with a crumpled-up coupon for the restaurant back when it was open at GW where if they bought five bubble teas, they would get the sixth one free. She said other students have made the trek to the restaurant, even unknowingly.

“Some students, they saw outside the sign, they just walk by and then they saw it was Teashi,” she said. “They run in, and they say ‘Oh I found the Teashi!’”

1234 19th St. NW. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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