Choose a type of tea, select the bubbles, seal them, pay and take the finished drink to go - that's the principle behind bubble tea. But how sustainable can a drink be that has been developed to be filled into a disposable cup and drunk on the go? Can bubble tea follow the zeitgeist and be offered in an environmentally friendly form? We have 4 tips for you for more sustainability in your bubble tea store.
What is bubble tea anyway?
Bubble tea is a refreshing drink that usually consists of tea, fruit syrup and tapioca pearls. The trendy drink was invented in Taiwan back in the 1980s, but the idea only spread to Germany in 2009. The name "bubble tea" comes from the fact that bubbles are formed by shaking the original ingredients, namely tea, milk and ice. Today, the drink is available in many different flavors and with very different ingredients. For example, the tapioca pearls, which are reminiscent of caviar, make the difference to a milky tea drink today.
The ingredients of bubble tea
To understand how sustainable bubble tea can be, let's first take a look at the individual ingredients. The basis of bubble tea is green or black tea, while the other ingredients of the drink can be put together according to individual preferences. Whether fruity, with milk or yoghurt, hot or cold, bubble tea is now available in every conceivable variation.
The contents of a bubble tea
As already mentioned, there are many variations of bubble tea. The basis is a green or black tea. The tea can then be extended with various fruit syrups, milk or yoghurt.
Like the basic drink, the bubbles of a bubble tea are available in different flavors and variations. The so-called tapioca pearls are typical. They consist of starch extracted from the cassava root and are mixed with syrup and sugar to create the classic bubbles. It is important to know that the cassava root can only be grown in tropical regions, mainly in Brazil, Africa, Asia and South America. There are also alternative balls made from fruit syrup that burst in the mouth when you bite into them, which is why they are also known as "popping bobas". So-called jellies can also be chosen as the contents of bubble tea. These are pieces of jelly that come in different flavors and colors.
The cup and lid of a bubble tea
The key to a bubble tea is the container in which the drink is served. Originally, this is a disposable plastic cup that is sealed with a plastic film. The special film is placed on the filled cup. With the help of a machine, the film then melts onto the rim of the cup and forms a kind of vacuum.
But why is the bubble tea cup sealed at all and not simply closed with a lid? The whole bubble tea trend is based on a special drinking experience, among other things, and it's not just about the exciting consistency of the "bubbles". The plastic foil, or rather the piercing of the foil with the straw, contributes to the special experience of drinking a bubble tea. Today, some bubble tea stores also offer sustainable reusable alternatives for the container. We will go into more detail about the options available to you as a store owner later in this article.
The straw of a bubble tea
The straw of a bubble tea must have a certain size and shape to fulfill its purpose. The diameter must be large enough for the bubbles to fit through when drinking and for the entire bubble tea to be enjoyed. The straw usually has a pointed corner at the bottom, which is used to pierce the sealed cup. In addition to the standard straws made from somewhat harder petroleum-based plastic, there are now also environmentally friendly alternatives for the drinking straw of a bubble tea.
Our 4 tips for your sustainable bubble tea store
Nowadays, sustainability awareness is important in every industry and hard to avoid. Many people are aware that it is important to switch to environmentally friendly products and support companies that are doing their bit for a sustainable future. "I'd rather pay a little more and produce less waste" - fortunately, this statement is no longer unthinkable for many people. To sell your bubble tea sustainably, you need to make a conscious choice when selecting your ingredients and packaging. Here are our four tips for more sustainability in your bubble tea store.
Tip 1: Choose sustainable ingredients for your bubble tea
Using local and seasonal ingredients to make your bubble tea not only supports local businesses, but can also help minimize your carbon footprint. But how exactly can you pay attention to sustainability when it comes to bubble tea ingredients?
For the tea, you can opt for organically grown tea. There are now some types of tea that are grown in Europe and even in Germany. In Thuringia, for example. You can offer milk bubble teas in your store with milk alternatives such as oat, almond or soy milk instead of conventional milk. Although cow's milk often comes from the region, oat milk is generally the most environmentally friendly. Compared to its competitors, oat milk consumes the least greenhouse gases and water and also has the lowest water pollution.
For the bubbles, opt for popping bobas or jellies. If you want to offer tapioca pearls, you should make sure that the cassava root is grown organically and that social and environmental standards are observed in the production of tapioca.
Tip 2: Use environmentally friendly packaging material and sustainable cups and straws
Now that the contents have been clarified, let's move on to the container for your bubble tea. You shouldn't rely on single-use plastic cups and straws for your sustainable concept, as there are great sustainable alternatives.
To reduce the consumption of single-use plastic, you can offer both sustainable disposable products and reusable products. Sustainable disposable cups are available in compostable cardboard, for example. Our #IAMPLASTICFREE to-go cups are made from 100% cellulose and do not require any coating. They can be disposed of in waste paper and completely decompose in home compost. There are also matching lids for hot and cold drinks, made from 100 percent cellulose. The same disposal standards apply to the lids as to our cups. If you want to establish a sustainable reusable system in your bubble tea store, you have the option of using reusable plastic, stainless steel or glass. As bubble tea is often taken to go, we would recommend reusable plastic cups with a deposit system. You can also give your customers an incentive to bring their own reusable cups. For example, you can offer a discount for those who bring their own reusable cup to fill.
The first truly plasticfree and uncoated Cups made from 100% cellulose. Don't believe us? See for yourself!
There are also innovative ideas for bubble tea straws. The classics are probably paper, glass and stainless steel straws - but there are also sustainable disposable straws. However, these environmentally friendly disposable straws have the advantages over reusable straws in that they are less expensive to buy, are unbreakable compared to paper straws and are usually biodegradable. There are straws made from biodegradable materials that you can offer your customers to take away without stress. There are straws made from algae, straw, wood and even an edible noodle version. We offer a bubble tea straw made from pine wood. The thin pine wood of our #IAMPLASTICFREE bubble tea straw is wrapped and glued with a natural glue. This means that the straw has no coating and - very importantly - no plastic.
Would you like to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of the various plastic-free straw alternatives? We have summarized them for you in this magazine article.
Tip 3: Save energy when preparing bubble tea
You can already think sustainably and save energy when making bubble tea. You can use energy-efficient appliances and cooling systems and, if possible, obtain the energy from renewable sources. By coordinating the preparation process well and optimizing workflows, you don't have to switch your appliances on and off unnecessarily often and can simply switch off appliances that are not needed. A tip from us: only use the amount of water you really need to make the pearls. This not only saves water, but also the energy required to heat the pearls to the desired consistency. Pass on your sustainable knowledge to your employees and train them to work efficiently too. Together, you will set an example for your customers and other bubble tea stores.
Tip 4: Use effective waste management
Despite a sustainable concept, waste cannot be 100% avoided in a bubble tea store. Use effective waste management for your business and your customers, for example by offering recycling and composting options for your cups, straws or bags. It is important that you check the certifications of your packaging materials carefully beforehand. This will allow you to determine whether they have really been produced fairly and sustainably and how they should be disposed of. With a waste system, you can prevent the used packaging from simply being left on the street, because waste is waste and even if something degrades by itself after a certain time, it is never good if it simply ends up in the environment.
Bubble tea can also be sustainable
Originally, we asked ourselves in this article whether bubble tea as a to-go drink can follow the zeitgeist and be offered in an environmentally friendly form. We say yes! Even if sustainability is an issue that cannot be implemented in a company overnight, we believe that it is possible to take a step in the right direction with various measures such as environmentally friendly packaging materials and organic ingredients. Fancy opening a sustainable bubble tea store or simply redesigning your current store concept? We think that's great, so what's stopping you?
(Image source: pexels.com)