We first met Nick, the founder of Biju Bubble Tea at a food tech event in WeWork South Bank and have since fallen in love with his colourful bubble tea creations. Starting to establish itself as a firm favourite in London, you can pick up bubble tea from Nick’s soho store every day of the week. We recently caught up to see how things are going, what the challenges have been setting up and what the future has in store for Biju Bubble tea.
So for those that don’t know what is and what goes into Bubble Tea?
The traditional bubble tea drink would be a Pearl Milk Tea. The drink is made with black tea, powdered creamer, sugar and then shaken with ice. Round black pearls made of tapioca are added to the milk tea. You suck the pearls at the bottom of the drink up with a big fat straw, getting a perfect mix of milk tea and chewy tapioca.
Nowadays, you can get all sorts of bubble teas that use various tea, milk or fruit bases, as well as even coconut water bubble tea (something we pioneered!). You can add all sorts of toppings into your drink too such as puddings, jellies or even seeds. My favourite is still the class tapioca pearl though.
Tell us about your journey about how Biju came to be?
I was back home in Singapore a few years ago and I was checking out a new bubble tea place. I saw they had two types of milk teas: “Milk Tea” and “Fresh Milk Tea”. I asked what the difference was, and they told me they used milk to make their “Fresh Milk Tea” drinks. This confused me.. what was in “Milk Tea” then if not milk? I realised then that bubble tea was made with powdered creamer, and not real milk. Needless to say, I was shocked. That really was the starting point on my journey of discovering all things wrong with bubble tea all the big commercial chains were serving customers.
So that really inspired me to create a new kind of bubble tea that was fresh and natural, and something I’d want to drink myself. That’s how Biju came to be.
We don’t call ourselves traditional bubble tea, instead we say we’re next level bubble tea. We’re the only brand in the UK to individually brew loose leaf teas for customers, never reheating or batch brewing. We never use powdered creamer, only fresh organic milks. And of course, we only use natural flavours.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Educating people. Bubble tea is still a new product and there are plenty of people in the UK who have yet to try it. There’s definitely an extra hurdle too given the novelty of a drink, making it only seem even more alien.
That said, it’s also been a challenge educating existing bubble tea drinkers about what goes into traditional bubble tea, specifically the powdered creamer, non-fresh tea and artificial flavours. Most places even reheat their drinks!
What are the future plans for Biju?
We plan to continue our focus on quality and consistency by expanding progressively and remaining fully company owned and operated over the medium term.
And finally what would be your best bit of advice for an aspiring food entrepreneur?
I don’t really have any one best bit of advice. Do your research, get lots of advice, and definitely get as much feedback on your product as you can. Be prepared to work very hard!