Taiwan’s unique bubble tea is slowly winning the palates and hearts of Londoners.
Although there was a market for bubble tea in the UK before Assad Khan came along, it was sold mainly in stores located in Chinatown.
Khan fell in love with the drink when he spent seven years working at a bank in New York City. When he returned to London from the US, he discovered there was no bubble tea that he liked.
Seeing the potential for a beverage business in London, he opened a store named “Bubbleology”earlier this month in London’s Soho area.
Believing that only 100 percent Taiwanese flavor made the best bubble tea, Khan had traveled to Taiwan for two months to research the process of making bubble tea and the materials before opening his store.
He said he discovered that for bubble tea to really taste “right,” the choice of materials, water temperature and timing were essential.
He has imported the shakers, plastic-sealing machines and plastic cups from Taiwan, along with the thick straws that allow customers to suck up the bubbles and chew on them.
Store employees were all trained in how to make proper Taiwanese bubble tea, Khan said.
Khan thinks he knows his subject intimately, because he used to drink four to five cups of bubble tea per day in New York and 40 cups a day when he was in Taiwan sampling different flavors.
However, it wasn’t just the bubble tea that impressed Khan during his stay in Taiwan. He thinks the Taiwanese are the friendliest people and he has books and magazines in his store introducing Taiwanese culture. His waiters also wear a Republic of China flag pin on their uniforms.
Two shops in Taiwan — the Hanlin Tea Shop, owned by Lin Tsung-ho (林宗和), and Chun Shui Tang, owned by Liu Han-chieh (劉漢介) — claim to have invented bubble tea, but since neither applied for a patent, the courts were unable to settle the case.
Khan said foreigners who develop a taste for bubble tea would eventually come to like Taiwan as well.