New York-based startup BUBLUV, Inc. recently launched its first product: a better-for-you, ready-to-drink bottled bubble tea. BUBLUV claims to be the first of its kind on the market and is available exclusively on the company’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) website. So, how does the brand differ from other bubble teas?
While many bubble teas often lack nutritional value, BUBLUV boasts no added sugar, no artificial ingredients and contains less than 50 calories per bottle. This has far fewer calories and sugar content than regular tapioca pearls in bubble tea, which can contain 200 or more calories per quarter cup serving. And, unlike store-bought bubble tea, BUBLUV does not require mixing or at-home preparation.
“After learning how unhealthy boba tea could be, I decided to create BUBLUV Bubble Tea so I could enjoy one of my favorite drinks without worrying about how much sugar I was consuming,” said Diana Ark Chen, CEO and founder of BUBLUV Inc, in a press release.
BUBLUV’s tapioca pearls are made from a combination of tapioca starch and konjac (a root vegetable), making them a no-sugar added, better-for-you version of tapioca pearls. The company’s tea also contains antioxidants like Vitamin C, is keto-friendly and gluten-free. BUBLUV is available in three flavors: Black Milk Tea, Matcha Soy Latte and Passionfruit Oolong Guava, all with Tapioca Pearls.
All three flavors are brewed with loose leaf tea and are sweetened with all-natural sweeteners, including monk fruit and erythritol. Each 9.5-ounce bottle of BUBLUV also boasts less than one gram of sugar, which the company claims to contain 98 percent less sugar than the classic boba shop chain bubble tea flavor.
BUBLUV amassed a pre-launch waitlist of almost 30,000 people after Chen’s bubble tea story highlighting health concerns with calories and sugar in traditional boba tea went viral on the video sharing app TikTok and LinkedIn earlier this year.
“The incredible pre-launch demand has been a clear indicator that I was not alone in my sentiment,” Chen said in the same press release. “Consumers deserve to experience bubble tea in a simple and better-for-you way, and we’re excited to bring this first-of-its-kind beverage to market.”
BUBLUV enters the market at a time when more and more companies are launching better-for-you alternatives of classic beverages, including chocolate milk and soda. However, it will face steep competition, as the global bubble tea market is slated to reach $3.23 billion by the end of 2032 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3 percent.
While the drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea has garnered a large North American audience, with boba shops quickly popping up amid the beverage’s popularity over the last few decades. BUBLUV will compete with some well-known US boba chains, including Chatime, CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, Gong Cha and Kung Fu Tea.
Just as new boba shops are always opening to take advantage of underserved locations or introduce their own spin on the concept, BUBLUV is doing the same. Although it will face competition with existing brands and potential new ones, being the first to market will help the company make a name for itself in the better-for-you bubble tea category.