How to Start Your Own Bubble Tea Business

How to Start Your Own Bubble Tea Business

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Bubble tea shops have increased wildly in popularity with visits to such businesses jumping by as much as 192 percent in 2015 according to data collected by Foursquare. Franchises for coffee and tea abound. But just like starting your own coffee shop, starting your own bubble tea business is a real option. Here’s what you need to get started.

Steps for Opening a Bubble Tea Business

Bubble Tea Business

Design Your Store

There’s no secret formula for a successful bubble tea shop. So you can customize it to your unique business needs. When designing your store, choose a space to set up your kitchen area and customer facing counter.

You might also consider setting up some seating areas or space for customers to really customize their beverages. You can also decorate the space in a unique way that really helps set your business apart.

Pick the Perfect Location

The actual location of your store is also incredibly important. If you can choose a storefront in a high traffic area, you’ll improve your chances of attracting customers, especially early on.

Or if you want to keep your startup costs low, you can consider a more non-traditional location like a truck, cart or kiosk at a mall or school. No matter what format you choose, you’ll want to make sure that your location is easy for customers to find and convenient.

Assess Your Budget and Financial Plan

Before you embark on your bubble tea venture, it’s crucial to assess your financial resources. Determine your budget for initial investments such as renting a location, purchasing equipment, and sourcing ingredients.

Consider the ongoing costs like employee salaries, utilities, and marketing. Creating a detailed financial plan can help you manage expenses, forecast profits, and attract potential investors or loans if necessary. Remember, a well-planned budget is the backbone of any successful business.

Consider the Competition

Another thing to consider, both in terms of your location and your offerings, is the competition. Bubble tea is a growing niche. But it still tends to be more popular in cities like New York and Los Angeles. In those locations, you’re likely to have some competition.

And in less populated areas, you’re likely to have less competition. But you may have to work harder to get people interested in what you have to offer. Just do some research on the customer base and try to find a way to make your business stand out if necessary.

Invest in Equipment

You’ll need some pretty specific equipment if you want to serve specialized beverages like bubble tea in different varieties. There are special shakers and sealers that you can get to create a more professional product.

And you’ll also need a heat source like a gas stove or electric induction heater. Smaller pieces of equipment like stirrers, tea jubs, sugar dispensers, cups and straws are also necessary. And of course you’ll need a point of sale system to actually run your operation.

Develop Your Menu

While bubble tea is a fairly specific niche, there are still plenty of different flavors and varieties to choose from. So before actually opening your new business to customers, you have to think about what you want your menu to include.

You can offer milk teas, fruit flavored teas or a combination of different types. And you can use different flavors to really set your business apart and attract curious customers.

Bubble Tea Business

Source Your Ingredients

Once you have all the necessary equipment in place, you’ll need to consider the ingredients you wish to use when creating your bubble tea. Since bubble tea originated in Taiwan, many of the ingredients can also be sourced from there.

Do some research on suppliers that fit with your budget but also provide quality ingredients for your menu. You’ll likely need to source different flavored syrups, tapioca, pearls, cream and other mix-ins. Then you’ll also need some basic ingredients like milk, sugar and tea.

Design a Robust Supply Chain

Once you’ve identified your ingredient suppliers, the next step is to design a robust supply chain. This involves planning how ingredients will be delivered to your store, managing inventory levels, and establishing reliable relationships with suppliers.

A well-organized supply chain ensures that you always have fresh ingredients in stock, reduces waste, and helps in maintaining the quality of your bubble tea. Regular communication with your suppliers and contingency planning for any supply disruptions are key to a smooth operation.

Train and Hire Employees

Your employees often serve as the face of your business. But they’re also responsible for crafting the beverages that you sell to consumers. So you need to be sure to hire people who are capable of learning the recipes and providing great service.

And then you need to provide all the right training so that your team understands what all is involved in making bubble tea beverages that are up to your high standards.

Bubble Tea Business

Secure Any Necessary Permits

Since you’ll be serving a prepared food product, it’s likely that you’ll need some inspections, licenses and permits to do business in the area of your choice.

Check with your state and local governments to see what is required of restaurants and coffee shops. And you’ll likely need to go through those same processes in order to get your bubble tea business off the ground.

Market Your New Business

Once you’ve got all of the above issues taken care of, it’s time to actually open your business. Even if you’ve developed a great menu and set up shop in a high traffic location, you’ll still probably need to do some marketing.

Consider having a grand opening event or doing some local advertising to draw interest. Starting an online presence, at least with your own website and Facebook page, may also be worthwhile.

Implement a Customer Feedback System

After launching your bubble tea business, implementing a customer feedback system is crucial. This can be as simple as comment cards in your store or an online survey. Listen to your customers’ suggestions and complaints.

Use their feedback to refine your menu, improve service, and make necessary adjustments to the store layout. Engaging with customers through feedback not only enhances their experience but also helps in building a loyal customer base.

Remember, in a consumer-driven industry, the customer’s voice is integral to your business’s growth and evolution.

Marketing Strategies for Your Bubble Tea Business

Bubble Tea Business

While the bubble tea industry has experienced tremendous growth and popularity, it’s important to remember that effective marketing is essential for standing out in a competitive market.

Even with a well-designed store, the perfect location, and a unique menu, attracting customers and building brand awareness requires strategic marketing efforts. Here are some marketing strategies to help your bubble tea business thrive:

  • Social Media Presence: Establish a strong presence on popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Share eye-catching images and videos of your delicious bubble tea creations, engage with your audience, and run contests or promotions to increase customer engagement.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Partner with local influencers or food bloggers who have a significant following in your area. Offer them a free tasting of your bubble tea and encourage them to share their experience on their social media channels. Positive reviews from influencers can drive traffic to your store.
  • Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. Offer discounts, free add-ons, or special promotions to encourage customers to return to your shop regularly.
  • Online Ordering and Delivery: Embrace the digital era by offering online ordering and delivery services. Create an easy-to-use website and mobile app where customers can place their orders for pickup or delivery. Partner with popular food delivery platforms to expand your reach.
  • Sampling and Events: Organize sampling events at local community gatherings, festivals, or college campuses. Let potential customers try your bubble tea for free, and distribute flyers or coupons to entice them to visit your store.
  • Unique and Seasonal Offerings: Continuously innovate your menu with unique and seasonal bubble tea flavors. Limited-time offers and creative combinations can attract curious customers and create buzz around your business.
  • Engaging Content: Maintain an informative and entertaining company blog on your website. Share fun facts about bubble tea, showcase customer stories, and share updates about your business and upcoming events.
  • Local Partnerships: Collaborate with nearby businesses, such as cafes or restaurants, to cross-promote each other’s offerings. Partnering with establishments that share a similar target audience can lead to mutual benefits.
  • Visual Merchandising: Pay attention to your store’s visual appeal. Display attractive posters, signage, and menu boards that highlight your best-selling bubble tea varieties and create an inviting atmosphere for customers.
  • Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and testimonials on review platforms like Google, Yelp, or TripAdvisor. Positive reviews can build trust and credibility among potential customers.
Social Media PresenceEstablish a strong presence on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Share captivating images and videos of your delightful bubble tea creations, run contests, and engage with your audience to increase customer engagement.Regular posts and interactionsSocial media usersEnhanced visibility
Influencer CollaborationsPartner with local influencers or food bloggers who have a significant following in your area. Offer them a free tasting of your bubble tea and encourage them to share their experience on social media, driving traffic to your store through positive reviews.Collaborate with influencersLocal influencers/bloggerExpanded customer reach
Loyalty ProgramsImplement a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. Offer discounts, free add-ons, or special promotions to incentivize customers to return to your shop regularly and build brand loyalty.Loyalty point systemRepeat customersIncreased customer retention
Online Ordering and DeliveryEmbrace the digital era by offering online ordering and delivery services. Create a user-friendly website and mobile app for customers to place orders, partnering with food delivery platforms for increased reach.Online ordering platformOnline customersConvenience and accessibility
Sampling and EventsOrganize sampling events at local gatherings, festivals, or college campuses. Let potential customers try your bubble tea for free, and distribute flyers or coupons to entice them to visit your store.Event planning and promotionLocal community/gatheringsIncreased foot traffic

By employing a combination of these marketing strategies, you can effectively promote your bubble tea business and establish a loyal customer base.

Remember to track the success of each tactic and make adjustments to your marketing plan as needed to ensure long-term success in the competitive bubble tea industry.

Conclusion: Embracing the Bubble Tea Business Journey

The rising popularity of bubble tea shops is a testament to the growing demand for this delightful and unique beverage. As the bubble tea industry continues to flourish, aspiring entrepreneurs have an exciting opportunity to venture into this niche market.

However, success in the bubble tea business goes beyond just serving tasty drinks. It requires careful planning, creativity, and a strong focus on customer satisfaction.

The steps outlined in this guide provide a solid foundation for anyone looking to start their own bubble tea business. From designing a welcoming store to sourcing quality ingredients and training skilled employees, each aspect plays a crucial role in delivering a memorable customer experience.

Furthermore, understanding the importance of strategic marketing and adopting modern techniques, such as social media engagement and loyalty programs, can help your business thrive in a competitive landscape.

Opening a bubble tea shop is a chance to make a mark in the beverage industry, and with dedication and innovation, your business can stand out among the crowd. As you embark on this journey, stay open to evolving consumer tastes and trends, as well as continuous improvement in your offerings and services.

By prioritizing quality, customer satisfaction, and health and safety compliance, your bubble tea business can become a beloved local destination, a gathering spot for friends, and a source of joy for customers of all ages.

So, whether you choose to set up shop in a bustling city or a small community, remember that your passion for bubble tea and your commitment to excellence will be the key ingredients in your recipe for success.

As you embark on this exciting venture, may your bubble tea business flourish, bringing smiles, memories, and the delightful taste of bubble tea to your community and beyond.

Bubble Tea Photo via Shutterstock

Qualify for discounts, special offers and more with a Business Prime account from Amazon. You can create a FREE account to get started today.

More in: 8 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.

8 Reactions
  1. Martin Lindeskog


    As a tea enthusiast, writing a book series on tea, this is great news! 🙂 I will write about bubble tea and other speciality teas (e.g., kombucha) in book #7.

    I have tested bubble tea in Gothenburg, Sweden, at an Asian store. It was an interesting experience… 😉

  2. Which month of the year is usually a good time to start a bubble tea busienss

  3. Sima, as a bubble tea drinker, I think Spring would be the best time of year because bubble tea tends to be a warm weather drink. However, if you’re opening in a college town, which would be a good market for this kind of shop, keep in mind that during summer student go home and college towns die until the semester starts back up in the Fall.

  4. I love to open a Bubble Tea business here in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I have been getting information on how to operate this business for almost 2 years now. Have been ready for awhile, location, design and marketing strategy are ready. To date I’m still looking for where I can get training to make bubble teas. And I’m ready to open my first Bubble Tea business please let me know where u can get training or someone to train me in regard. Thanks looking forward to hearing from you.
    Cris 416-575-0121

  5. Thanks for sharing this amazing idea. recently, I have started a feminine wellness tea business that name is tea pleaser. It was interesting and helpful in boosting our immune system.

  6. Charina G Diokno

    I am a bubble tea fan. Everytime I pass by a bubble tea shop, I have to stop and get one for my self. Personal favorite, tarot with tapioca, less sugar!. Since I love this product so much, I would like to open one and share my joy. I think bubble tea is so refreshing and makes you happy. Something thatis also popular that you can share on social media.

    If there’s anyone who could help me start this business – the hows, training on making one, I would really really be grateful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *