Glenferrie Bubble Tea Boom

Popular food trends have always taken hold in Glenferrie Hawthorn. Healthy burgers started up with Grill'd at 754 Glenferrie Road. The juice craze lives on at Boost Juice at 704 Glenferrie Road. The froyo fad (frozen yoghurt) delivered us Yo-Chi at 673 Glenferrie Road in the Lido Arcade. Now, Glenferrie Hawthorn is host to the recent bubble tea boom.

Bubble tea or boba tea is a Taiwanese cold beverage made from tea, fruit and/or milk with tapioca pearls (boba) and other optional extras such as fruit pieces and sugar syrups. It is traditionally served in a plastic cup with a vacuum-sealed peel lid. Boba tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It has become incredibly popular around the world in recent years, particularly with young people.

Glenferrie's first taste of bubble tea came in 2013 with Chatime, opposite Glenferrie Station at 641 Glenferrie Road. Chatime try to create a fun, welcoming atmosphere so customers "can feel this is the place they can hang around with friends after school or on weekends", said manager Linh. Their most popular item on their regularly updated menu is the peach green tea, and customer loyalty to Chatime is rewarded through accumulating points on their smartphone app. Through their 'Project Happy Turtle' initiative, Chatime is aiming to eliminate all single-use plastic at their stores by 2020.

Glenferrie Crepe Cafe have been offering bubble tea in the station arcade at 672 Glenferrie Road for almost three years now. When owner David saw that bubble tea was becoming a trend in Australia, his sister offered to send him products from Malaysia to make bubble tea in Glenferrie (alongside locally-sourced products). While more competition has popped up around Glenferrie over the past year, David says that regular customers to the Glenferrie Crepe Cafe always come back.

Teaser Tea were the next to arrive in Glenferrie, opening their doors at 682 Glenferrie Road next to the Glenferrie Centre in February 2019. Their most popular drink is the classic pearl milk tea in original flavour, and they offer a range of other flavours that are “different and special to our store”. While their cups are single-use, much like the other stores, they do actively promote and encourage customers to re-use Teaser’s 60 micron thick plastic bags to carry their beverages.

ShareTea also opened in February 2019 at the rear of 694 Glenferrie Road, behind Vodafone (entrance on Wakefield Street). Manager Kheng has found that Glenferrie “has a lot of students and young people" who choose ShareTea for its reputation and because “the tea’s quite good, in my opinion!”. While customer favourites include the pearl milk and brown sugar tiger tea, Kheng prefers the lychee green tea herself. ShareTea currently offer a resealable glass bottle with their promotional ‘Moonlight’ range, and Kheng hopes they will continue to introduce reusable containers for their teas.

In June 2019, Cecilia opened CacTea at 636 Glenferrie Road, just next to the tram stop at the Burwood Road intersection. The location is good for business as the “street is busy, with many shops” and where “the target customer is the students”. Their most popular drinks are featured in their ‘top ten’ collection, especially their unique fruit cheese flavours including cheese watermelon and mango - flavours which are special to CacTea.

Ding Tea moved into their cosy store in September 2019 at Shop 20 in Glenferrie Centre 674-680 Glenferrie Road (entrance on Wakefield Street, behind McDonalds). Their most popular flavours are their brown sugar and signature milk tea, paired with boba. Ding Tea imports all of their ingredients from Taiwan, “to provide the most authentic boba tea”. To move toward sustainability, manager Sophie is introducing dine-in glass straws, encourages customers to bring in their own cups, and hopes to transition from their plastic cups to paper cups - which they currently use for hot drinks - for serving all of their beverages.

The newest kid on the block is TeaMore, which opened at 644 Glenferrie Road next to Bagelicious on 11 November 2019. While many other bubble tea places have popped up since they first leased the store, TeaMore's primary business comes from their high-speed internet connection, computer gaming suites - making them the only internet and gaming cafe in Glenferrie. They offer a range of bubble teas as well as a mini-mart for players, so gamers can “drink and play!”, said manager Johnny.

While each of Glenferrie’s bubble tea shops bring their own special touch to the Taiwanese beverage, the majority of their customers share the same profile: school and university students. Their favourite time to drink bubble tea? Around 3-5pm on a weekday. As the local community choose and maintain their loyalty to their favourite Glenferrie bubble tea for summer, we wonder what the next food fad to launch in Glenferrie might be.

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