Chatime was the very first bubble tea shop to open in Norwich, located in the city centre on Dove Street. It opened in 2016 and has been serving bubble tea seven days a week ever since.
We spoke to Shell Pizzey, owner of Chatime in Norwich, to find out more about what bubble tea is, how it’s made and what flavours you can enjoy.
What is bubble tea?
Traditionally a milk tea, bubble tea has evolved into a refreshing fruit tea too. It can be served hot or cold, making it suitable all year around. Bubble tea straws are much thicker than a standard straw because they’re designed to allow you to consume the toppings as you’re drinking. In most bubble tea shops you’ll see a machine that seals the top of the cup with cellophane. This is great if you’re on the go because you don’t have to drink it straight away. When you’re ready, you can pierce the cellophane with your straw and enjoy.
Chatime Norwich offers a selection of bubble teas, coolers and mousses. Their bubble tea isn’t made with a powder, it’s a fresh tea and all ingredients are imported from Taiwan. There’s a secret to getting your straw through the seal. Shell told us: “The trick is to put your thumb over the top of the straw to make it airtight. That way, you won’t struggle to pierce the seal and it won’t spill out when you do.”
When was it invented?
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 80s, and is now available in countries all over the world. It was given the name ‘bubble tea’ because of the thick layer of foam that forms on the top after it’s shaken. The first Chatime store opened in 2010 in California, United States.
How is bubble tea made?
There are two main types of bubble tea, made with milk or without. “At Chatime Norwich our most popular milk teas are the Chatime milk tea, the chocolate milk tea, and our honeydew milk tea is really popular too. If you’d prefer a fruit tea, our passion fruit green tea and peach green tea are our customers’ favourites,” Shell told us.
What flavours and toppings are available?
There are toppings galore to choose from, it’s these toppings which make bubble tea unique. The original and most popular topping is tapioca balls, which are a starch made from the root of cassava plants. You can opt for one of the jelly or popping pearl toppings if tapioca balls aren’t to your taste. Shell said: “Our most popular topping is the tapioca balls for those who prefer a traditional bubble tea. We find our younger customers go for the popping pearls. These are available in many different flavours. From September 1 we are offering two new toppings, lychee popping pearls and grass jelly.”
Is bubble tea suitable for vegetarians and vegans?
Bubble tea is typically suitable for vegetarians, but this depends on which toppings you have. Shell explains: “At Chatime Norwich, all of our toppings are suitable for vegetarians except pudding and mousse.” Some bubble teas are suitable for vegans because they can be made with dairy-free milk. Chatime creates vegan-friendly bubble tea using soy milk.
Keep an eye out for the special drinks that Chatime sell throughout the year. Currently they have two summer specials, green apple tea mojito and curacao tea mojito. Both of these are non-alcoholic and will be available until the end of the summer. Chatime is a global franchise, operating in 38 countries. Chatime Norwich offer a loyalty card that rewards you with a free topping once you’ve got six stamps and £3.20 off your order once your card is filled. It’s available on Deliveroo, and has been since opening. Shell said: “We have a lot of Deliveroo orders, it’s been very successful. We have an average rating of 4.8 out of five.”
By Charlotte McClure