Eva Peterson remembers drinking bubble tea during her teenage and teenage years in Hong Kong. Trying different flavors was one of her favorite activities and she often found time to stop by a bubble tea shop after school.
“When I was a young teenager, bubble tea had already started to be popular in Hong Kong, but I knew it was already popular in Taiwan,” Peterson said. “There started to be more and more stores in Hong Kong, and every week I had a drink with my friends.”
As an adult, bubble tea after work was just what she needed to unwind.
Now Asheville resident Peterson will be opening her own bubble tea shop and aims to share the cultural fun with the local community this year.
Pop Bubble Tea will open inside The Hop Ice Cream at 640 Merrimon Ave., Merrimon Square Mall, in Spring/Summer.
Peterson, a former social work supervisor, said the bubble tea business was a way for her to honor her culture while promoting community. She intends to use her social work training, knowledge and skills to help people and encourage them to be kind, caring and respectful to one another, she said.
Following:COVID-19 Restaurant Etiquette Tips: Rules of Engagement for Dining Out During the Pandemic
Following:Japanese restaurant offering premium seafood and steaks opens in Arden
Support for small businesses
Pop Bubble Tea is a collaboration between Peterson and her longtime friend Ashley Garrison, who owns The Hop with her husband, Greg.
In 2013, Peterson’s husband Chris introduced her to the Garrisons. In 2017, after leaving the field of social work, Peterson started working at The Hop.
For the past two years, Garrison and Peterson have discussed the idea of introducing a bubble tea component to the ice cream shop. It was an ideal situation to launch a new brand while supporting an existing brand.
“Eva was in a great place where she was looking for some kind of entrepreneurial avenue to do what she loves, which is helping people and interacting with people,” Garrison said. “And it stays in line with our business model where we provide something that is fun and makes people happy. We can use it to help bring people together. Everything works out so easily.
In partnering with small businesses, The Hop benefits because it can share overhead with another entity, easing some financial strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Garrison said.
Pop Bubble Tea will have the space and support to establish itself before expanding.
“We’re going to start it at the Merrimon site and eventually we’d like to branch it out into its own business and have Eva at the helm,” Garrison said.
A taste of tradition and innovation
Pop Bubble Tea is an avenue for merging Asian and Western cultures, Garrison said.
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. The concept spread across Asia, and later to other countries like the United States, as techniques and flavors evolved, said Peterson.
“Different bubble tea shops have their own character,” Peterson said. “They have a specific best-selling drink to create. Some focus on garnishes, others on tea.
Peterson and Garrison undergo extensive professional training to learn Taiwanese recipes and preparation methods. They draw inspiration from Peterson’s upbringing in Hong Kong and research from his travels through Asia to create traditional and iconic bubble teas.
Following:Behind the Scenes: Training Day at Crumbl Cookies, Opening Soon in Asheville
Following:Spice producer Alyse Baca creates unique blends for Spicewalla
“I loved bubble tea when I was a teenager,” Peterson said. “Because I love it so much, I traveled to other Asian countries. I went to Taiwan to explore bubble tea. It allowed me to learn more about the different styles of bubble tea and on industry.
Garrison’s skills as an ice cream maker and baker lend themselves to the process.
Pop Bubble Tea’s ingredients include high-quality tea leaves sourced from Taiwan, including black, green, and oolong. Fresh fruit will come from farms in the Asheville area.
The flavor options will go beyond what Peterson tasted in his youth. Many ingredients will rotate with the seasons.
“Taro, honeydew and mango – the combinations are so much more than before,” Peterson said.
Exclusive drinks will be offered or customers can personalize their drink.
Bubble tea starts with a tea choice, which is the most important part because it lays the foundation for flavor, Peterson said.
“Good bubble tea, you can taste the tea,” she said.
Then customers can ask if they prefer regular milk or a non-dairy option. Next comes the selection of toppings, sugar and icing levels, and other additions.
“Also, the topping is the most interesting thing. People like to have a different type of filling inside, not just a traditional tapioca pearl. Now there are more different choices.
Several combinations planned for the menu are Taro Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearls, Honeydew Fruit Tea with Crystal Pearl, Brown Sugar Milk Tea with Brown Sugar, as well as Mango Fruit Tea .
“It’s an interesting drink and makes people happy…fun and colorful,” Peterson said.
If you are going to
What: Pop Bubble Tea
Where: 640 Merrimon Ave., inside The Hop Ice Cream at Merrimon Square Mall inside, Asheville
Opening spring/summer 2022
Info: For more information, visit popbubbleteanc.com. Follow on Instagram @popbubbleteanc or on Facebook at PopBubbleTeaNC.
Tiana Kennell is a food and gastronomy reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Help support this kind of journalism by subscribing to the Citizen Times.