By Fanny Ohier
What is bubble tea, anyway? This exotic drink combines tea with fruit or syrup, and sometimes milk; it gets the ‘bubble’ moniker from the chewy tapioca balls added to the mixture. Created in Taiwan in 1980, it became so fashionable that the Taiwanese consume it as eagerly as Egyptians do juice.
The whole mixture has to be tried, since merely describing it does not to justice to the flavour or texture. And so far, Bubblicious is the only place in Cairo where you can do that.
Located in Zamalek, Bubblicious is a discreet white shop, somewhat concealed in Ismail Mohamed street. As teashops often are, it is small and its interior design mostly revolves around the use of wood.
The shop’s owners, Nancy Awad and her husband, Ahmad Mohidi, are very worried about how the new refreshment will be received in Egypt.
Indeed, the drink, new on the Egyptian market, is quite surprising; colourful to the eye, but also full of flavours and textures for the mouth which somehow come together. In her shop, Awad offers a wide range of choices for the first-timer and veteran alike, from the slush apple flavoured tea with cherry bubble balls, to the soft and creamy milky strawberry tea with coffee flavoured tapioca balls. The simpler varieties are often just as refreshing, such as the cherry flavoured tea with apricot balls. “The products we use to make the bubble teas are imported from Taiwan,” Awad explained.
While Awad is well-travelled, her first time trying bubble tea a year ago was not in Asia, but Austria. Since her first taste in Vienna, she travelled to several Middle Eastern countries where bubble tea shops had already been established for a long time. After observing the way they did business, Awad decided to take the plunge and set up her own teashop in Egypt.
“I wanted to get something new to the Egyptian market,” she said. “When you bring a new product, people usually come over just to taste.”
She also decided to bring her husband Ahmad into the project. “We did our research, and then we started to make our own recipes,” Awad explained. At the end of this process, having created a section for bubble teas and a food menu, Awad and Mohidi opened ‘Bubblicious’ in September 2012.
“We are going to expend our shops into City Stars Mall less than a week from now,” Awad said.
Not only does she intend to open several shops in the city, but she has also planned a new concept for the beginning of next year. With no other known venues in Cairo serving bubble teas, Awad and her husband thought of giving the people the opportunity to buy the ingredients from their shops. “I thought of ‘guest boxes’ in which you would have a small shaker, tapioca balls, and a mix of the different flavours,” she said. “This way, people could make their bubble teas at home.”