How to open a bubble tea shop

Written by nick callos
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How to open a bubble tea shop
Pricing bubble tea is one of the most important decisions for your shop. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Bubble tea was first made in Taiwan. It is a fusion drink that blends tea with fruit or milk. The drink's distinguishing ingredient, though, is the mushy pearl tapioca balls that float at the bottom. Bubble tea was first made in the 1980s and has since spread to the West. It comes in a variety of flavours and styles and can be served cold or hot. It has become popular in the United States, and opening a bubble tea shop is a good idea for any small business entrepreneur who enjoys the drink.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Find a location for your bubble tea shop that is in a spot where drinkers of bubble tea will typically be. A shopping mall or shopping centre location is always a good location because people enjoy snacks and drinks while shopping; other good options are near health and fitness centres, near public or private pool clubs, next to grocery stores and near universities or high schools; areas like these will give you access to a range of people who will enjoy bubble tea. Bubble tea drinker can range from kids to retirees, so consider this when implementing a marketing strategy.

  2. 2

    Decide which teas you want to purchase as the base teas for your bubble tea drinks. It is recommended to purchase jasmine tea and black tea. Milk bubble teas can use black tea and fruit bubble teas can use jasmine tea; you can also use black and green tea for fruit teas, but the flavour may not be as pungent.

  3. 3

    Decide which bubble tea flavours you want for your store; you can buy fruit directly or you can purchase flavours in either a powder or syrup base. When purchasing bubble tea flavours, purchase a large variety of flavours to give your customers more options; more common choices are chocolate, strawberry, watermelon, pearl milk, almond, passion fruit, mango, coconut, lychee, banana and lemon; other uncommon choices that may appeal to certain customers are ginger, taro root, barley and sesame.

  4. 4

    Decide which supplementary products to purchase for your bubble tea store. Creamers, honey, sugar, sweeteners and tapioca pearls are all tasty additions to a bubble tea beverage. Also, you will want to have food and other drinks available at your store, such as cakes, cookies, muffins, brownies, fruits, juices, coffee, healthy snacks and water; these are all good side items.

    Selling gift sets will increase sales around holiday times. One gift set, for example, can include three or four flavoured syrups, black tea and a kit for making bubble tea; this will give customers the opportunity to experiment with making their own bubble tea.

  5. 5

    Purchase equipment such as a cocktail mixer for mixing the drinks. You will also need multicoloured straws, stir rods, cup lids and scoopers. A fridge and freezer will be needed for storing fruits, milk, chocolate and other perishable bubble tea products; a thermostat will also be needed for maintaining proper temperature of the fridge and freezer. You will need tea pots for boiling tea and a stove and oven for preparing your side offerings. Make sure to provide enough tables and chairs for customers and display shelves for items available for purchase.

  6. 6

    Find suppliers of bubble tea ingredients. You can search online for sources, but it is recommended to search for a local source or large retail seller for the cheapest and freshest product. Purchase your milk, creamers and other dairy products from a local dairy company; buy your teas from local wholesale tea warehouses or from tea import companies; buy fruits from local fruit companies or large wholesale fruit distributors; contact large sugar companies about bulk sugar purchases. Figure out what is the most cost-, price- and time-efficient in order to maximise your profits.

  7. 7

    Experiment with making fresh fruit bubble tea; start by adhering to a standard recipe but slowly work into developing your own personalised fresh fruit bubble tea recipe. To make a large single serving blend using fresh fruit, put 1 cup of fresh fruit into a cocktail mixer and add 1/4 cup of milk and 1 1/2 cups of prepared jasmine tea. Then add 1 to 2 tbsp sugar syrup. Add 1 cup of ice and stir the drink. To finish, add 56.7gr. precooked tapioca balls to the bottom of a plastic cup and pour the flavoured blend into the cup. Adjust amounts to suit personal tastes; add a higher percentage of fruit if a stronger flavour is desired; add more milk for a thicker, creamier drink. Try adding honey and sweeteners as well. Experiment with making powdered or syrup-based bubble teas.

  8. 8

    Practice cooking tapioca pearls until you are able to produce a gushy, gummy-bear-like texture and sweet flavour. To cook tapioca balls, boil for roughly 20 to 25 minutes in a covered pot; use 4 parts water and 1 part tapioca pearls. Then turn off the boiler and add 3 to 5 tbsp sugar to the water and let the tapioca pearls soak in the sugar and water solution for roughly 20 minutes; test afterwards to see if the texture is right and flavour is sweet.

  9. 9

    Price your products by carefully researching prices of other bubble tea products in your area or in other cities. You want your prices to be competitive and appropriate to the market, and think about quantity and quality; you can price higher to make more money per purchase or price lower and make up the difference through more customer purchases.

  10. 10

    Purchase health and sanitation supplies such as vinyl gloves, hair nets, hand sanitiser, napkins and other cleaning supplies for your bubble tea shop. Because you will be serving drinks and food, having these products will keep your business up to health regulations and germs out of your bubble tea drinks; moreover, it will help in passing a health inspection.

  11. 11

    Get a kitchen inspection and obtain a food service establishment permit for your bubble tea shop. Because your bubble tea shop will be serving fresh drinks and other food, you will need your establishment cleared for safety and health before being able to obtain your business license and open shop. The inspection will be performed by your local fire brigade or health department, and the restaurant license issued by local government authorities.

  12. 12

    Start marketing and advertising your bubble tea store to set up for a big first month of sales. If your business is small and funds are limited, try the grassroots style of handing out flyers; grocery stores, health stores and fitness centres, outside restaurants, at amusement parks and at shopping centres are all feasible spots. Radio and local television advertising is also a possibility if you have the funds; the key is to get people to know about your store and get word-of-mouth flowing.

  13. 13

    Hand out free samples of your product before your store opens. If your store is located in an area where other stores are, then you can simply set up outside your shop and tell people about your bubble tea product and about your store's upcoming opening. You can also hand out flyers about your store; in these flyers you should explain what bubble tea is, its history and flavours, and why it is such a refreshing and healthy drink.

  14. 14

    Put up window displays in your bubble tea store telling about your opening day specials; window displays should also include pictures of the various types of bubble tea your shop offers. On your first day, offer discounts or promotional deals to get customers into the place; if they like your bubble tea, they will come back. A reasonable opening special might be offering a second bubble tea at a discounted price.

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