What Makes Chatime the OG of Bubble Tea


If you’re hankering for a satisfying helping of bubble tea, Chatime is the first place that likely comes to mind. The international boba brand is everywhere, serving up creative bases and slurp-worthy toppings in their iconic cups.

But some people mistake Chatime for a recent phenomenon. They see the flashy branding and broad appeal among young generations, and assume that Chatime is the latest trend on the block. In fact, it’s been around for quite a while – and is widely considered to have revolutionized the bubble tea industry with its innovations and global reach.

In this article, let’s explore what makes Chatime the “OG” of bubble tea – a well-respected, pioneering force that continues to exert major influence today.

The History of Bubble Tea

The story of bubble tea starts in Taiwan in the 80s. Amidst a backdrop of neon clothing and new-wave music, a couple of enterprising tea shops decided to experiment with their menu. Their first innovation was to serve cold milk tea, rather than the blazing hot stuff people usually enjoyed. The second was to add small spheres of tapioca to the drink for textural variation. Voila, bubble tea is born!

However, bubble tea would remain a local obsession for at least a decade or two, gaining name recognition in Taiwan but still largely ignored by the rest of the world. That is, until Chatime came along…

Chatime launched in the early 2000s with two aims: to perfect bubble tea, and to bring this undeniable treat to a broader global audience. They succeeded on both fronts.

A Homegrown Company, a Global Phenomenon

When Chatime developed their initial menu at their first shops in Taiwan, they knew they had something special. They understood the scalability, cross-demographic appeal and general awesomeness of the drinks they were creating. So, they took the show on the road.

The brand opened its first international venture in California, and – to one’s surprise – it was a hit. Fast-forward two-odd decades, Chatime has over 2,500 stores in 38 countries, solidifying its position as the undisputed global king of bubble tea. The brand is particularly popular in Canada, having opened its first doors in 2011 in Toronto.

Perfecting Bubble Tea – Chatime’s Real Claim to the OG Title

All of those figures and statistics are merely window dressing next to the real reason Chatime deserves the “OG” title (or “GOAT,” more accurately). The reason is simple: It never stopped innovating, never dipped in quality, and continues to serve the world’s tastiest takes on bubble tea.

Take the menu for Chatime’s bubble tea in Canada as a prime example. On it, you’ll find exacting versions of the classics: signature milk tea boba made with premium loose-leaf tea, quality dairy and just the right amount of sweetness (which the customer can customize), as well as roasted milk tea, genmaicha and earl grey classics. From there, the menu spins off in innovative directions. The brand offers chocolate hazelnut milk teas, brown sugar pearl drinks, fruit teas, slushes, taro smoothies and more.

To manage that level of quality, popularity and cross-demographic reach is no small feat. And to be credited with popularizing a drink that is now among the world’s most loved beverages? No wonder they call Chatime the OG of bubble tea.

Read more: Unlocking the Mysteries of Hürrilet Tea

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