Owner of Tin Tea Serves Vietnamese Cuisine Along With Innovation | News

Chau Truong designed the pink and green “living room” area of ​​Tin Tea. (Pamela Thompson / Southernminn.com)

Before she opened her only Vietnamese food store in Northfield last year, Chow Trung felt empty and aimless.

Despite a busy life as a student at St. Olaf’s College studying psychology and business, Trung said that taking online classes during COVID-19 restrictions made her uncomfortable.


Chau Truong is the owner and general manager of Tin Tea on Highway 3. (Pamela Thompson / Southernminn.com)

“I love customer service,” said the 20-year-old Faribault High School graduate. “I like to talk, communicate and be creative. I also like to solve problems.”

The search for solutions was passed on to Trong, the only daughter of Tung and Lim Trong, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam 30 years ago.


The menu at Tin Tea features hot and cold milk, fruit tea, juices, spring rolls and pan mee sandwiches. (Pamela Thompson / Southernminn.com)

Like her devoted parents, Trung said she may have worked 60-70 hours a week last year in order to bring her new venture, Tin Tea, to life.

She has been involved in every aspect of the business, from store design to marketing and social media, creating recipes for hot and cold drinks.

She has created her own recipes for milk tea and fruit tea by watching online tutorials. Recipes for spring rolls, chicken, pork, tofu and veggie pan mi (a crunchy baguette with pickled vegetables, onions, cilantro and cilantro) come from her mother.

This isn’t the first time it’s been a balanced school and career. During high school, Truong worked as a barista in two different cafes in Faribault.

In addition to her family, Trung gets a lot of support from her community.

“I know all the Vietnamese business owners in Northfield who run nail salons,” she said. They have been very supportive. They are regular customers and give helpful advice. They are very pioneering.”

But the support also comes with a lot of outside opinions. Trung said she’s heard many customers ask why she didn’t add the famous Vietnamese soup to her list of offerings. Others pressured her to expand her menu and open a restaurant.

Before opening in June 2021, she did a lot of research on current trends in the food and beverage industry, as well as other Vietnamese offerings available around southern Minnesota. Trung said the treasury town of authentic Baan Mei and spring rolls was in Burnsville.

“I love the simplicity of our menu,” she said.

The list of drinks at Tin Tea contains milk tea, fruit tea and hot tea, both caffeinated and decaffeinated. Also on the drinks menu are smoothies and bubble teas available with tapioca pearls, known as boba, crystal boba and popped pearls.

Location, location, location

Trung said she likes the location of her store off Jefferson Road because of how well Tin Tea appears from Interstate 3.

“I love all of our parking spots, the view we get from the highway, and the sunsets we see from here,” she said. People warned her that the location of a mall in the Gaza Strip would not have much foot traffic. This has never been a factor, especially with all middle school, high school and college students visiting the store in droves.

“We get clients from as far afield as Faribault, Ottawa and Medford,” she said.

Once upon a time, Tin Tea had three buses running from Shattuck Street. Mary’s School in Faribault.

“Fortunately, the Student Life Coordinator called ahead to let us know, so we had time to prepare the tapioca for bubble tea.”

On some school nights, she said, the front room, which features casual seating and a few high tables, is filled with students. On other nights, there was a line extending outward.

“People love bubble tea,” she said. “Northfield is the perfect place for a young business like mine. Bubble tea is a growing craze with millennials. I wanted to jump on it here before anyone else does.”


Chau Truong and Thor Keilen are high school sweethearts. Keilen, who is from Iceland, spends a lot of time at Tin Tea helping Truong run the business. (Pamela Thompson / Southernminn.com)

Running a full-time business, while in college as a full-time undergraduate was Truong’s passion.

“I couldn’t have done it without my family and friends and my boyfriend (Thor Killen),” she said.

Truong credits her parents for teaching her how to communicate her love through food.

“I owe them everything,” she said. “I watched them work every second to improve the lives of their children.”

The store is named after Tin, Truong’s 13-year-old brother.

“I wasn’t supposed to do this during college,” Trung said. “But when we found the space, it was a rush. I had a conversation with my family about running a business while expanding my education, and we took off from there.”

With initial help from her parents to fund the start-up, she now has nine employees, half of whom know how to prepare tapioca pearls, which require an hour and a half in boiling water.

The Trung family left Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, for the United States 30 years ago. Tong came first, followed by Lim and his baby Dat four years later. The family settled in Faribault, where Tong worked a difficult job at the factory. Zhao Wuten was born here.

Chau Trung said she loves Vietnamese food.

“The food is very healthy with all the fresh veggies; it is very good and very cheap,” she said. “It is the food that connects me to my culture.”

With her grandparents, aunts, cousins ​​and uncles still living in Vietnam, she visited the South Asian country at least four times in her young life. She is planning to spend her winter vacation from Saint Olaf in Vietnam with her family members.

Trong will begin her junior year at St. Olaf’s College this fall. She is a psychology major with a management focus.

Trung graduated in 2020 from Faribault High School, was a class valedictorian, class president, captain of the tennis team, math team, science team, and president of the National Honor Society.

Besides her family, Truong credits the women in the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce who guided her in every aspect of running her own business. Jane Bartho, interim director of the chamber, said she was impressed by Trung’s ability to locate and fill a commercial niche on the spot.

“Her story makes me cry,” Bartho said.

Tin tea family.  jpg

The Truong family includes parents Liem and Tung, brothers Dat and Tin, and business owner Chau. (Photo courtesy of Chau Truong)

Julie Buchwald, advertising sales writer and staff writer for Entertainment magazine, said she was touched by Trung’s positive spirit and high energy.

A few weeks ago, Chamber members, community members, family, friends and the Tin Tea staff gathered to celebrate Truong’s first year in business.

“I felt very proud of myself that the company had such an overall success,” Trung said. “It was great to share that moment with the staff and my family.”


Chau Truong designed the pink and green “living room” area of ​​Tin Tea. (Pamela Thompson / Southernminn.com)

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