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From Taiwan to Hall: New store offering home-grown bubble tea
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Brian Tseng, co-owner of Bubble Bees Tea, prepares a bubble tea at his store on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Tseng's family moved from Taiwan to Gainesville, and had their first tea shop in Taoyuan. - photo by Austin Steele

Bubble tea, also called boba tea, represents more than a tasty drink for Brian Tseng.

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A traditional black bubble milk tea is served at Bubble Bees Tea on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele
Before moving to Gainesville, his family owned a bubble tea shop for 10 years in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Instead of starting the same business in Georgia during the early 2000s, the Tsengs worked at a Golden Buddha Restaurant in Cumming. Once the lease ended, Brian said they looked for other opportunities closer to their new home in Gainesville.

That’s when his father, Ming-Cheng Tseng, had the idea of going back to the family's bubble tea roots.

Ming-Cheng and Brian opened their first bubble tea shop — Bubble Bees — in Gainesville on May 12.

“People here already know bubble tea,” Brian said. “Bubble tea places are very popular in Suwanee and Duluth and we wanted to open one in Hall County.”

Brian said the drink first appeared during the early 1980s at a tea stand in Taiwan. Since then it has spread beyond the island country and into businesses throughout the U.S.

All of the ingredients used at Bubble Bees come from Taiwan to preserve the authentic flavor of the drink, Brian said. He refrains from incorporating powdered products, with the exception of non-dairy creamer, and brews the liquid with tea leaves.

People have the choice of purchasing classic tea, milk tea or fruit tea.

Some of the milk and classic teas include black, green, Earl Grey and oolong tea. The fruit flavors consist of passion fruit, mango, peach, strawberry and others.

After choosing the drink, customers can add tapioca balls or jelly cubes — which come in pineapple, coconut, lychee, passionfruit, mango and coffee flavors.

The last customization entails the sugar level, which ranges from sugar-free to extra sugar.

Brian said in Taiwan they “always add brown sugar to the tapioca.” This changes the color of the tapioca balls from white to black.

Two hours before the store opens, the Tsengs begin brewing the tea varieties. They serve the product in sealed cups, which Brian recommends drinking within two hours after purchase.

“You don’t want to keep it too long because the ice will melt and take the flavor away from the tea,” he said.

The meaning behind the name “Bubble Bees,” reaches beyond its cute nature and into the dynamic of the Tseng family.

“Bees are hard working and they cooperate,” Brian said. “Bee families are very tight, so we named it ‘Bees’ because we work together as a family.”

Brian invites people to visit his business and experience a true taste of Taiwanese bubble tea.

“I hope that they can try it because tea is not as popular as coffee in America,” Brian said. “Tea is more natural, and we hope people will try ours and they’ll like it.”

The shop’s hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. People can find the business at 333 Shallowford Road in Gainesville next to Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Bubble Bees

What: Bubble tea shop

Where: 333 Shallowford Road, Gainesville

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

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Bubble Bees Tea is located on Shallowford Road in Gainesville serving a variety of bubble tea. The shop is owned by the Tseng family, who moved from Taiwan to Gainesville, and had their first tea shop in Taoyuan. - photo by Austin Steele
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