Bubble tea, sometimes referred to as boba, is a drink that usually includes tea, milk, and tapioca balls. There is a huge variety of flavors and styles. And the drink is known for being especially shareable in social media photos. So these shops are mainly popular with Gen Z and Millennials (Here’s what Millennials want), with people of all ages now discovering the magic of bubble tea.
Though bubble tea has become most popular in the U.S. in the last decade or so, it actually originated in Taiwan back in the 1980s. Now, the industry is valued at nearly $2.5 billion around the world. And it’s expected to continue experiencing significant growth throughout the next decade.
So if you’re looking to capitalize on a growing global trend, bubble tea may be the perfect business opportunity for you. And if you’re not interested in building your own brand from scratch, there are plenty of boba tea franchise opportunities to consider.
These businesses allow entrepreneurs to latch onto an established brand and benefit from proven systems and processes. But you still get the freedom to build your own location and manage your own team. Essentially, it’s a way to expedite the process of starting your own bubble tea shop.
If purchasing a bubble tea franchise seems like the perfect business for you, the exciting opportunities below may help you get started.
Bubble Tea Franchise Opportunities
Here are the best bubble tea franchise businesses for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider:
1. Gong Cha
Gong Cha is a boba franchise that focuses on quality ingredients and creative mixes. The chain offers special features like online ordering to make it easy for customers to keep returning for more bubble tea. And they have a strong national and international presence. The company is headquartered in Taiwan. But there are Gong Cha stores throughout several countries, including the United States, Canada, Korea, Singapore, and Australia. Franchise fees vary on a case by case basis but usually fall around $30,000. But the company estimates the initial investment at between $177,430 and $335,400.
2. Kung Fu Tea
A Kung Fu Tea franchise gives entrepreneurs access to a popular, U.S.-based bubble tea company that’s been around for about a decade. They offer made to order beverage along with specialized merch like reusable straws and tea sets. They even partner with other brands like TKK Fried Chicken and Yasubee Ramen. So franchisees can diversify their revenue streams and provide even more value to customers with the additional service. Those who want to franchise Kung Fu Tea in the United States can follow a proven ten-step process to get started. The franchise fee for a traditional store is $37,000. They also offer nontraditional options, like those in shopping centers. But those fees vary on a case-by-case basis. Total upfront costs fall between $124,050 and $428,050.
Sharetea franchise locations are all about bringing fun to the milk tea beverage experience. The company has roots in Taiwan and locations in multiple countries. In fact, there are currently more than 100 stores throughout North America. So it’s an international brand with some current recognition in the U.S. The company has been in operation for more than 28 years. And the team provides site selection assistance, marketing plans, and comprehensive training for new tea franchises. The franchising fee is $22,500. And startup costs range from $260,000 to $360,000.
Bubbleology is a boba tea franchise that is known for fresh tea and tapioca beverage options. In addition to bubble tea, the business also provides specialty waffle desserts that are especially shareable on social media. The company offers both single and multi-unit development opportunities. You can even choose between the non-traditional kiosk or the traditional in-line locations. So costs and experience vary from case to case. However, requirements in the restaurant or retail industry is a must for new franchisees. The initial franchise fee ranges from $20,000 to $30,000. And the total initial cost range from $163,250 to $361,600.
5. Bee & Tea
Bee & Tea is a fast-casual restaurant with a focus on bubble tea, smoothies, bao, and healthy bowls. The company offers key appeal for millennials and gen Z. But they offer options for older age segments as well. Additionally, each store offers plenty of customization options to keep customers happy. The restaurant’s snack-sized meals and Asian inspired flavors are perfect for modern consumers. And the interior design and decor elements are modern and trendy. So the entire experience is memorable and consistent. The franchise fee is $40,000. And initial costs range from $144,000 to $280,000.
6. Tapioca Express
Tapioca Express was one of the first bubble tea franchises in the U.S., opening its first store back in 1999. The first stores were opened in California. But they now have shops in several additional states including Washington, Texas, and Virginia. In addition to bubble tea, they also provide mochi waffles, snacks, and smoothies. The business sources quality ingredients from Taiwan. And they provide a set system for getting started with a new franchise. So you should know exactly what to expect right from the start. The initial payment to Tapioca Express of $51,000 covers training, product deposits, licensing, marketing materials, and mandatory equipment purchases. Total upfront costs range from $200,000 to $527,000.
7. Boba Loca
Boba Loca is a boba tea franchise that focuses on providing a welcoming customer experience. In addition to bubble tea, the company provides a wide array of snacks, juice, pastries, and a full espresso bar. Franchisees must work in their stores and previous restaurant or franchising background is preferred. But the company provides a dedicated process for getting new stores up and running. Currently, many of the franchise locations are in California. But there are opportunities available in other markets as well. The franchise fee is $14,000. And upfront costs range from $88,445 to $325,955.
8. Ding Tea
Ding Tea franchise opportunities are available to anyone over 20 years old with good credit and a passion for tea. The menu is full of fruit flavored milk teas and other specialty beverages, all made with quality ingredients. The company currently only has a few U.S. locations. But it has plenty of recognition throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia. The business provides training, professional support, and ongoing communication to support franchisees. And there’s a set process to help new franchises get up and running. There’s a $20,000 franchise fee. And you’ll need between $123,000 and $422,000 to get started with a new franchise.
9. Koi Tea
Koi Tea offers a starter kit and operational support for its boba tea franchises. Franchisees need familiarity in food service, retail, or multi-unit management. They also look for candidates who care about building community and being involved with their local area. The company provides the opportunity to open one location or to move into multi-unit development. And several store layouts and sizes are available. So it’s a truly flexible opportunity. The company has been around for just a few years and doesn’t have many locations yet. So they have the ability to provide personal attention to each new franchisee. The franchise fee varies on a case by case basis. And specific financial requirements vary by market size. But the initial costs generally range from $200,000 to $500,000.
10. CUPP Bubble Tea
CUPP Bubble Tea is a UK-based boba tea shop that offers franchising business opportunities internationally. They provide options for turnkey locations if you want to get a new store up and running quickly. But they also provide multi-unit opportunities for those that want to build a larger business. If you really want to step up your franchise game, the business also offers the opportunity to become an International Master franchise. This is where you get the rights to a specified country. Master franchisees are responsible for running the entire CUPP network in that territory. So you need extensive knowledge of the local market, along with the ability to attract new franchisees. The franchise fee for a traditional UK location is £15,000. And turnkey operations can be started for as little as £50,000.
How much does it cost to start a bubble tea business?
Most bubble tea franchises cost between $75,000 and $500,000. Large locations and those in populous cities are likely to cost on the high end of that spectrum. Kiosks and stores in shopping centers or airports tend to cost less to get started. The majority can get up and running for between $125,000 and $200,000.
Is owning a bubble tea business profitable?
The profitability of owning a bubble tea shop depends on your market. If you’re in a trendy or affluent area, you’re more likely to earn enough to offset your expenses. The industry is still experiencing growth. So it is certainly possible to build a profitable business in this market.
How much can you make owning a bubble tea shop?
The amount you can earn with a bubble tea shop depends on your store volume. Locations, prices, and costs play a major role. However, many stores make $3 or more per serving. And materials can cost $0.75 or less. If you sell 500 products per day, you could bring in more than $30,000 per month before factoring in other expenses.
How do I start a bubble tea business?
To start your own bubble tea business, you first need to scout locations. Find something in an upscale or touristy area with plenty of walkabilities. A popular downtown location would be ideal. Then you need to source equipment and supplies. This includes blenders, stoves, tea shakers, cups, straws, tea ingredients, and tapioca pearls. You’ll also need to take care of any licensing and inspection requirements in your area.
On the business planning end, you’ll need a logo, branding, menu, and price list. Think about how you’ll market to customers and how many products you think you’ll be able to sell each day to eventually make a profit. Before opening, hire and train a team to make all the drinks on your menu.
If you opt for a franchise instead of starting your bubble tea business from scratch, most of these steps will be laid out for you.
What do I need to open a boba shop?
First, you need a location. This should be a retail storefront that has enough space for your equipment, countertops, sinks, staff, and a small customer area. Equipment-wise, you’ll likely need a stove for brewing tea and making tapioca pearls. You should also consider tea shakers and blenders for specialty beverages.
On the supply side, you’ll need a large selection of cups, lids, straws, and napkins. If you sell other products like hot beverages or snacks, you’ll need specialty containers for those items as well. In terms of ingredients, stock up on tea powders in various flavors, creamers, sweeteners, various teas, milks, water, and tapioca pearls.