Ann Arbor Weather:
Saturday July 20, 2019
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed

The Boba Invasion Continues

With rival Taiwan-based franchises

by Sabine Bickford

From the June, 2019 issue

Two Taiwan-based bubble tea franchises opened Ann Arbor locations on May 17. Chatime joins Bubble Island and Sweeting in South University's student food district, while CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice is across from North Campus in the Courtyard Shops.

Both have thousands of stores globally, and both offer similar selections of sweetened milky tea drinks with tapioca bubbles. But the intricacies of the menus, combined with natural complications of translation, may need unraveling for a newcomer.

Chatime, for example, offers a foamy cream topping for their teas, with a sprinkling of salt, called "mousse." They offer it in chocolate, matcha, and tieguanyin flavors. On CoCo's menu, a similar style with a sweet creamy salted foam is called a "macchiato"--though on their website it's called a "cloud."

All the bubble tea is made with a machine that brews tea with a specialized cream powder (if you want milk you order a "latte" at Chatime or a "fresh milk tea" at CoCo). Customers specify whether they want it hot or cold, sugar level, and add-ins that include tapioca pearls (or "boba"), different kinds of jelly, sweet red beans, or custard (called "pudding" on both menus).

Other options include smoothies, juices, and, at Chatime, "QQ," which owner Angel Chen explains is "juice with half pearls and half coconut jelly. It's like a little slang [expression] in Taiwan that's used to mean 'really chewy.'"

Chen is from Hong Kong and her business partner David Lee is from Taiwan. They both grew up around bubble tea, she says, and wanted to share an authentic version. They hadn't realized CoCo had the same idea until construction was underway.

"We thought we had the game two years ago," Chen says, but by the time their space was ready, CoCo had caught up. CoCo's managing director, Albert Lin, was not available to comment before we went to press.

Both stores have a similar minimalist, modern feel (down to the white store logos over fake green grass

...continued below...


backgrounds on the walls), but Chatime's contemporary hip-hop playlist and late hours push it more toward the "cool" end of things, while CoCo's cute boba mascot and relative quiet atmosphere leave it a little more mellow. Still, Chen says students aren't Chatime's only customers. "I want to target everyone," she says, "I want to show people what bubble tea is."

Chatime, 340 Maynard. (734) 531-6896. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. chatime.com

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, 1731 Plymouth Rd. Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. en.coco-tea.com
    (end of article)

[Originally published in June, 2019.]

 

 
Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Music: Pop, Rock, Jazz, Blues, & Traditional
Photo: Indigo Blue Bunting Says Hello in Style
Deaths in the Crosswalks
Despite a decade of efforts, the number of pedestrians injured and killed locally is climbing.
James Leonard
Goodbye to Launch Board Shop, Great Lakes Cycling
Marketplace Closings: May 2019
Sabine Bickford
Better Billboards
"You'll get 18,000 emails today but only drive by so many billboards," says Ernie Perich
Jeff Mortimer
Restaurants with Wi-Fi
A clickable zoomable map
The Many Lives of Burns Park
Olivia Hall's savvy land swap created a park, a school, and a neighborhood.
Grace Shackman
Subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer
The Yams Arrive
They're opening a bakery at Packard and Platt.
Sabine Bickford
Welcome To The Ann Arbor Skatepark, by David Swain
Arbor Hospice
Ann Arborís Premier Haberdashery, Custom Suiting, Formal Attire.
spark ann arbor