Tapioca tea is on the bubble

"Happy.me is the next generation of beverages," says Jan Roode, one half of Happy.me, Jo'burg's first bubble-tea franchise. Jan and his partner in all things, Jay, are serial entrepreneurs, with a clairvoyant knack for property development, and have travelled widely. "We have visited over 65 countries," Roode says. 

One day while navigating the grit and glint of hyper-city Hong Kong, also known as the Pearl of the Orient, an encounter with another sort of pearl took place: tapioca pearls. 

"We stumbled across our first bubble-tea experience," Jan says, "and it was love at first sip!"

Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba, is a Chinatown treat, in which gummy balls of tapioca squat in the bottom of a plastic cup brimming with sweetened tea and milk. 

It was invented in the teashops of Taiwan in the 1980s and, like many Asian crazes, has a certain pop-culture naiveté about it (although in New York they are now serving an alcoholic "spiked" bubble tea). 

It's a happy drink, appealing to your inner kid – largely because of the fat straw, which is big enough to slurp those tapioca pearls through – and is satisfyingly silly.

After a binge on boba, Jan and Jay sat down and conspired on how to bring bubble tea back with them and, more importantly, with it being something of an acquired texture, how they would finagle South Africans into becoming bubble-tea devotees. "We decided to seek out the best beverages from around the world, and blend them with the principles of bubble tea – break it down and reassemble it." 

Enter Happy.me, where you are the master mixologist. (Can't get your head around squidgy tapioca? Just leave it out then.)

Flavours that curl and bloom include watermelon, cranberry, Earl Grey, Matcha green tea and coconut milk. Then blend in your accompanying pearls or jelly. Or don't. The concoction is up to you.

Village Green Shopping Centre, 127 Greenway Road, Greenside, Johannesburg. Phone 011?888?5658. Eastgate branch: the Food Court, shop 10. Visit happyme.co.za

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Safety at schools: ‘Keep your distance and your pen’

The department of basic education has developed guidelines to assist schools with minimising the spread of the coronavirus

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing

Press Releases

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday