A new bubble tea shop is bringing the boba and freshly-prepared drinks to Westfield’s South Shore Mall in Bay Shore.
Located across from Champs Sports store, Black Pearl Bubble Tea held a soft opening of its second location a couple of weeks back.
And so far, it’s been a big hit, said one of the shop’s managing partners, Sherry Zhao.
“People still don’t know about us yet because we haven’t had time to do a lot of marketing, but the ones who have come love it,” she said. “It motivates us to keep going this way.”
There are three partners in the business: Zhao and one partner actually started out in the corporate world as senior managers, while the third owner comes from a business background.
The dream has always been to open up their own business, Zhao said. What’s more, the trio coincidentally share a love for bubble tea.
So, the partnership just clicked.
Black Pearl Bubble Tea debuted its first location two months ago in the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.
For those not familiar with the drink, bubble tea originated in Taiwan. Among the most common bubble teas is pearl milk tea, which consists of milk or creamer, brewed tea, and chewy, tapioca balls.
Zhao, who is from China and lives in Hewlett, said when she visits her home country she always indulges in bubble tea, but can never find the same quality back in the States.
“We don’t think there is really, really good bubble tea in the U.S. market,” she said. “[Asian countries] have developed modern-style drinks that focus not just on the taste, but on the health — they only use very fresh brewed tea and ingredients.”
That’s exactly what Zhao and her team want to replicate with Black Pearl Bubble Tea.
She said they wanted to create a place where the freshness and quality of the drinks stand out.
For example, taro (a root vegetable, kind of like a sweet potato) is a popular bubble tea flavor, but some big-name brands use an artificial powder or canned taro that produces a bright-purple color.
Fresh taro does not normally give off that color, Zhao says.
When making this specific drink at Black Pearl Bubble Tea, they take the actual vegetable, peel the skin off, steam it, and then mash them until smooth.
It is then combined with a non-dairy creamer with zero trans fat to make a milk tea. Zhao said it’s ideal for people who are lactose intolerant. Then comes the brown sugar boba — slow-cooked for about an hour, until the texture of the bubbles becomes soft and chewy.
“It’s actually a very healthy vegetable and tastes so good, if you use the powder you don’t get those health benefits,” Zhao said. “Same with the other ingredients we use; when we make fruit tea, we use real fruit, other shops use concentrated juice.”
Some of the other specialty drinks on the menu include Passion Island, which is made with fresh pineapple; Tropical Paradise with dragon fruit and mango; matcha milk tea; and Oreo milk tea.
The teas and other ingredients in play at Black Pearl are imported from Taiwan, which Zhao said can be expensive and difficult with international shipping. But for the owners, it is important to stand by their authenticity.
“We wanted to stick to our principle to make everything fresh, even though the cost is really high. We are trying to figure out how to make a profit,” Zhao said. “We don’t want to compromise what ingredients we use because the taste is really different.”
The hope for the ownership team is to quickly expand the Black Pearl Bubble Tea brand. They are already aiming to open a third Black Pearl location at the SoNo Collections mall in Connecticut in early December.
“We don’t want to just open one bubble tea shop to serve only the people in that community, we want to open many,” Zhao said. “We want people to feel like it’s a place they can relax, have delicious drinks and Asian-style snacks.”
Photos of Black Pearl at the South Shore Mall
Top: A Tropical Paradise fruit tea from Black Pearl Bubble Tea.