Bubble T Break was established in late 2012, tucked away on Cross Street, near Newcastle’s China Town. Wei-Lung Tsai, who is the manager of Bubble T break, states his mission as simply as this: ‘I want to introduce Taiwan’s most traditional drink to Newcastle’.
Tsai, who is orginally from Taiwan, draws on his heritage and offers many different Taiwanese beverages. But, although drinks are definitely his speciality, customers can also expect something extra. If you fancy some traditional Taiwanese foods, like tea egg or Kantoni, Bubble T is the place for you. Furthermore, it also sells traditional Taiwanese Moon Cake during Mid-Autumn Festival.
Most of the raw ingredients are imported directly from Taiwan, with Assam black tea, green jasmine tea and oolong tea amongst those which have made the long journey to the North East of England. However, Tsai also uses materials from local providers, a decision which he attributes to cost concerns and is happy to be flexible over how he sources his products. For example, the rose syrup used in Bubble T break is purchased from a UK provider. Tsai prefers to compare different ingredients, testing them for quality, taste and price when choosing which to use in his shop.
Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba milk tea, was invented in Taichung in the 1980s. It consists of a mixture of Taiwanese black tea, black tapioca pearls as topping, condensed milk and syrup or honey. To make, begin by cooking tapioca pearls for half an hour, and them leaving them to keep warm. This warming process is a crucial part in the production of the drink. After cooking tapioca pearls, mix with milk, tea and sugar into the shaker cup and mixing it. It can be served hot and cold.
A key part of the bubble tea experience is being able to customise and customers can do just that at the store but Tsai is clear that the quality of the tea comes first (rather than focusing on colourful toppings and other gimmicks).
This shop is a relaxing environment and welcoming to anybody, regardless of whether they are familiar with bubble tea or Taiwanese cuisine. It is one of many outlets introducing flavours and textures from around the world to Newcastle.