23 Jan 2014 Tapiocoa tea bubbles up on Jo’burg
Roode and his partner in all things, Jay, are serial entrepreneurs, with a clairvoyant knack for property development, and have travelled widely. One day while navigating Hong Kong, also known as the Pearl of the Orient, an encounter with another sort of pearl took place: tapioca pearls.
“We stumbled across our first bubble-tea experience,” Roode says, “and it was love at first sip!”
Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba, is a Chinatown treat, in which gummy balls of tapioca squat in the bottom of a plastic cup brimming with sweetened tea and milk.
It was invented in the teashops of Taiwan in the 1980s and, like many Asian crazes, has a certain pop-culture naiveté about it (although in New York they are now serving an alcoholic “spiked” bubble tea).
It’s a happy drink, appealing to your inner kid – largely because of the fat straw, which is big enough to slurp those tapioca pearls through – and is satisfyingly silly.
After a binge on boba, Roode and Jay sat down and conspired on how to bring bubble tea back with them and, more importantly, with it being something of an acquired texture, how they would encourage South Africans into becoming bubble-tea devotees.
“We decided to seek out the best beverages from around the world, and blend them with the principles of bubble tea – break it down and reassemble it.”
The customer is the master mixologist. Happy.me flavours include watermelon, cranberry, Earl Grey, Matcha green tea and coconut milk. Then customers blend in their accompanying pearls or jelly. Or don’t. The concoction is up to them.
Happy.me’s are sited at Village Green Shopping Centre, 127 Greenway Road, Greenside; and at the Eastgate Food Court, shop 10.
See more at www.happyme.co.za