For many Americans, bubble tea is a relatively new concept. After being invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, the fun drink with a giant straw has exploded in popularity across Asia — and throughout the world. Bubble tea is in such high demand globally that McDonald’s put it on the menu in Germany.
If you are a bubble tea fan, or simply interested in investing in a business with a tremendous potential for growth, you may be thinking about starting your own bubble tea business. Doing so requires careful thought and planning — as well as getting the right supplies to make your business a success. Read on to learn more about how you get your own bubble tea shop off the ground, complete with recommendations for custom cups that will allow your product and your brand to shine.
What Is Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea, or boba, is a Taiwanese treat that has become incredibly popular in the United States. The word “boba” is used more broadly to refer to any drink with something in it, such as fresh juice with chunks of fruit. Bubble tea (which may also be called pearl milk tea) is a version of boba that involves black tea, milk, ice, and tapioca pearls — the bubbles in bubble tea.
These pearls are made from tapioca starch. The hard white tapioca pearls are boiled and then steeped in a sugary syrup for hours until they become large, chewy, and take on a black color. Bubble tea is offered in a range of flavors, from mango to strawberry to matcha. Other teas — or even coffee — may be substituted for the traditional black tea.
Bubble tea is served in clear cups to allow customers to see the tapioca pearls. Fat straws are a must for bubble tea so that the bubbles can shoot up the straw as a person drinks.
This drink has become incredibly popular both in Asia and here in the United States. The industry is expected to grow by $2 billion to $4.3 billion by 2027. The United States is expected to account for 18.7% of the global bubble tea market by 2026.
Getting Started with Your Own Bubble Tea Shop
Given the growing demand for bubble tea, setting up a boba business makes sense for many entrepreneurs. While franchises for established brands are available, given the relative simplicity of the product, you can also go out on your own.
Step 1: Develop The Concept
The first step in starting any business is to come up with a concept that works. In this case, the concept is bubble tea. Think about whether you want a more extensive menu, if the shop will be sit-down or carryout, and the overall style of your store.
Once you have decided on a concept, it is time to pick a name and develop a brand identity. Spend some time researching competitors, and find a way to set your store apart from theirs. If you need some help brainstorming, we compiled over 30 of our favorite creative restaurant and coffee/tea shop names for inspiration.
Step 2: Create Your Brand Name & Logo
Come up with a logo and design concept that is versatile enough to be used throughout your branding materials. Your logo will need to be able to work well on your website, your storefront, your plastic drink cups, etc. For this reason, it’s best to work with a logo that can be made mono-color (one color), so that you can change the color of your logo to pop against many different colored backgrounds.
Step 3: Find A Location
Next, figure out a location. This decision will be based in part on your concept. If you plan on having a sit-down restaurant, you will want a place with plenty of parking, as well as, easy access by foot. Demographics are also important. According to the New York Times, bubble tea shops often do well near college campuses. For some entrepreneurs, a bubble tea truck may make the most sense, allowing you to drive to events, festivals, and busy lunch locations to offer your wares.
Step 4: Figure Out Financing
Once you have developed a concept and brand and chosen a location, it is time to think about financing. This usually requires writing a business plan to qualify for a loan or to attract investors. A business plan can also be useful as a strategic roadmap for your company’s growth.
During this process, you should be thinking about your menu as well. Even if you are limiting yourself to drinks at this stage, there are many bubble tea options to explore. Having a wide range of choices may differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to become more profitable as a business.
Step 5: Design Your Space
After securing a location and financing, it is time to build out and customize your space. This may involve putting together a floor plan to meet your customer’s needs or getting your logo on the truck. We have a post on the latest design and decor trends in the food service industry if you’d like images to draw inspiration on. You should also research and purchase the right equipment, such as a commercial ice machine, dispensers for sweeteners, or machines to make the tea for your drinks.
Step 6: Source Your Ingredients
At the same time, you should start sourcing ingredients and supplies. Because bubble tea has limited ingredients, it is important to buy high quality teas, milks (including non-dairy options), tapioca pearls, and flavorings. You will also need to pick out cups, boba straws, and lids. If you’re going to be selling food, you may also want to buy custom takeout bags to help expand your brand’s reach.
Step 7: Get Permits, Licensing, & Staff Setup
As you get closer to opening up, you will want to make sure that you have the right permits and licenses, and that your employees have been hired and well-trained. You will also want to make a decision about using technology to help grow your business, such as an app for ordering, payment tools, or even partnering with a food delivery business.
Step 8: Put Together Your Marketing Plan
Finally, you will want to begin the process of marketing your business. Create a website and social media pages for your bubble tea store. Be sure to include your menu, prices, address, hours of operation, and pictures of your store and products. Taking these steps will ensure that customers can find you — and may be an important piece of your business’ success.
Starting a new business can be overwhelming, but if you break the process down into tiny steps, it becomes much easier to tackle. For further reading, you may also be interested in our resource guide for coffee and tea shops. It includes resources for creating a mission statement, putting together your business plan, picking the right location, gathering required equipment, managing inventory, and more.
Starting a Bubble Tea Shop? We Can Help.
The bubble tea trend is still relatively new in the U.S., with huge potential for growth. If you’re interested in starting a bubble tea business, we can help. Budget Branders offers a full range of custom disposables, priced affordably for start-ups as well as small and medium-sized businesses.
In the past, custom branded cups, bags, bowls and other items were only an option for the biggest chains who purchased these items by the millions. We offer a solution for smaller restaurants and bars who want to market their business effectively without breaking the bank.
To learn more about how we can help you build your bubble tea business, contact us today by filling out a contact form, pressing the live chat button or submitting a quote request for one or more of our products.