A casual stroll down Twickenham High Street greeted me with a new surprise: a tilted lettering- ‘CUPP’. 

The crowds flooded the street, watching the sunset frame the eager faces of children and adults alike, for the first day, treated with the promises of the first 100 customers receiving free drinks, and half-prices after that point. Standing tall in one half of the shop were two interactive devices to order drinks, accompanied by two guiding members of staff, as names were being called out at the front counter and a swirl of drinks were handed out.

At the heart of the ultimate motivation of two enterprising women, joined in their passions through their children’s school, for launching this, is their own personal experience with the beloved drink. In an interview with Sabrina Zhang, co-owner of the new branch of CUPP, she communicated her motivation to start the shop was that her ‘girls were big fans of bubble tea… [and it was] popular in China’, having lived in Shanghai up until 5 years ago, and working for an advertising and importer business. 

Alongside the accompaniment of 10 other staff members, the two partners cherry-picked the franchise, conveying that ‘this brand is good: [it] fits us, and [has a] high quality of ingredients, cool designs and great support from the headquarters’, and the location, with it being a convenient location as a frequented road by them, when taking their children to school and back, and surrounded by many schools, opening up to the secondary school demographic.

Sabrina expressed that “[their] margin will be smaller than the rest of the market because [they] use higher quality ingredients, but, as a mum, healthy is always the most important thing”, bringing to attention the core of their intentions within the community. She mentioned: “All our other major ingredients, like our tea, our bubbles, our popping toppings are brought in from Taiwan, so actually our cost is much higher than other competitors, and that’s why, when you taste, it’s actually very easy to taste the difference from the bubble teas.” One of the many cogs of the inner workings of this business is an expiry sheet, constantly updated for various components of a drink; for instance, tapioca pearls having a shelf-life of only 5 hours.

With scope to expand the business, both partners will look to develop the current one, based on the success of the opening, and, in the future, the potential for building a second shop is definitely lingering, with the demand evidently high. 

Small businesses have struggled to get on their feet since the unwelcome barrage of Covid-19, but our high streets have been booming with new and upcoming local businesses, which in turn, have given sheer force to our economy on a larger scale.

Bubble tea, the heart of any satisfying outing with friends, is a perfect encapsulation of this, as well as the momentous joy it has spread to the community within just a few weeks of opening.