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Taiwanese bubble tea shops spring up in Europe

2012/07/25 19:12

Berlin, July 25 (CNA) Two years after setting up its first shop in Germany in 2010, the Taiwanese bubble tea company BoBoQ now boasts over100 stores across Europe, selling fruity, quality drinks that appealto German palates.

Sales were anemic the day the company opened its first shop in Berlin in February 2010, with only 15 cups of the signature Taiwanese beverage sold, said Chu Kuei-man, one of the company's three founders.

But things changed over the next six months as customer satisfaction and word of mouth stirred up a fad across Germany and beyond, with restaurateurs around Europe flocking to obtain franchise deals, Chu said.

The beverage, also known as pearl milk tea because of the marble-sized black tapioca balls it contains, has now spawned numerous varieties in Europe, featuring diverse flavors such as raspberry, chocolate, cinnamon and lychee.

A total of 106 shops have sprung up in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Czech, Poland, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates, and the company is looking to expand into Turkey.

Chu and the other two founders, Chou Yun-chu and Lai Ming-chin, began preparing in 2005 to build a bubble tea brand in Europe by introducing Taiwanese tea-making techniques and adding a European touch.

The three founders won over European customers by giving them choices such as yogurt and fruity shaved ice and adding fruit to the chewy tapioca balls.

The company also placed a high premium on the quality and safety of its products, striving to meet the stringent food safety standards in Germany, Lai said.

Health regulators in Germany tend to subject popular imported drinks to especially strict standards, and some Green Party members recently proposed regulating bubble tea due to its high sugar content, Lai said.

In recent years, bubble tea in Europe has been boasting brands such as Bubbleology in London and Bubblicity in Ireland. In Paris, Zenzoo and 37m2 restaurants serve bubble tea as well as authentic Taiwanese dishes such as braised pork and rice and salty crispy chicken.

Starting in June, McDonald's in Germany added bubble tea to the menu of its 800 McCafes, offerings the beverage in 250 possible combinations.

(By Lillian Lin and Scully Hsiao)enditem /pc