The Untold Truth Of Kung Fu Tea

You know that when a drink makes it to emoji status that it's here to stay. The 2020 list of new emojis includes a picture of a milky bubble tea, also known as boba tea (via CNN). If you don't already know about this food trend, then be prepared to enter a whole new world. Think mind-blown emoji. With its roots in Asia, and specifically Taiwan, American company Kung Fu Tea is boldly taking bubble tea to new markets in the U.S. and other countries around the world. 

Kung Fu Tea's mission is to serve up a fresh, innovative, and fearless bubble tea empire, making a name for itself as a go-to, made-to-order brand that focuses on creating a superior bubble tea experience. In 2018, Kung Fu Tea even went so far as to found National Bubble Tea Day on April 30 to celebrate the creamy sweetness of this fun, bubble-popping beverage (via Kung Fu Tea). 

So, drink up the untold truth of Kung Fu Tea and find out why boba is fast becoming an exciting drink choice and turning so many into bubble tea fans, one slurp at a time.

Kung Fu Tea is famous for its boba tea

Bubble tea was first introduced to Taiwan in the 1980s, according to CNN. While there are many different types, bubble tea is generally made up of tea, milk, and jelly-like bubbles. These sweet, chewy add-ins are traditionally made from tapioca. These black pearls of sweetness are sucked up with the drink and taste delicious while lending a fun textural element to the finished drink.

Kung Fu Tea serves up some of these classic milk teas, including ones made with taro, green tea, as well as the relatively sweet Thai milk tea, or perhaps some honey and oolong. What's more, you can customize your own drink with plenty of add-ins to up the flavor ante that much more. These comprise the traditional tapioca boba, plus mango, grape, or even coffee-flavored bubbles. Want something really new? Then try the lychee crystal bubbles (via Kung Fu Tea).

It's more than a boba shop

At the heart of Kung Fu Tea are, of course, those sweet, gummy pearls of boba. However, with customers able to choose their own toppings, along with customized sugar and ice levels, it's clear that the brand is all about creating your own personalized drink. Hot versions are available for most concoctions too. 

Plus, Kung Fu Tea is more than boba. As well as the soft bubbles, other added delights include sweet milky jelly, nata jelly made from coconut pulp and pineapple, adzuki beans, and herbal or aloe-flavored jelly cubes (Kung Fu Tea).

There are plenty of different drinks on the menu to choose from, too. These include iced and hot teas, such as a brew made with longan and jujube. Other drinks crafted by the brand include fruity punch teas with freshly squeezed lemonade, teas with a milky top such as green matcha, and yogurt drinks made with freshly squeezed juice. There's also a creative slush range made with ice, espressolactose-free options, and even seasonal creations such as the eye-catching purple yam latte. 

Kung Fu Tea comes from Queens

A childhood memory of drinking boba tea in Taiwan started the search for great bubble tea in New York City's borough of Queens, ultimately leading to the creation of Kung Fu Tea. According to Kung Fu Tea, it all started when three friends, returning from a 2009 visit to Taiwan, met to brainstorm business possibilities upon their return to New York. 

Sitting down at a local bubble tea joint, they started to chat. As they sipped their drinks, they found that it just didn't match up to the boba they knew and loved back in Taiwan. As they looked at the line of customers, they must have had a lightbulb moment and realized that the demand was there. If they made great boba as the trio knew it, then they could succeed. Hence, Kung Fu Tea was born.

However, the trio needed some help from someone who knew all about making great boba. That person was another friend who just so happened to run a successful bubble tea chain in Taiwan. After a passionate sales pitch, three became four, and the Kung Fu Tea team was born.

Kung Fu Tea works to be fresh and innovative

What makes Kung Fu Tea stand out? Those beverages are seriously fresh. The chain also uses tea leaves that have been handpicked in Taiwan, adding great flavor and real authenticity to the brand. Meanwhile, the boba is also made fresh every couple of hours, too. When it comes to other fruity varieties, the chain is also careful to use fresh juice (via Kung Fu Tea). Almost none of the ingredients in a Kung Fu Tea will be sitting around for too long.

Another hallmark of Kung Fu Tea is that the flavors are also really innovative. For example, one range of drinks is served with a "milk cap," a thick layer of milk at the top of a drink that's also slightly salty. Some of the unique flavors included in this menu are Sunshine Pineapple and Winter Melon, as well as more classic tastes like matcha and cocoa (via Kung Fu Tea).

It's meant to put out a healthier brew

While many tea beverages are high in sugar and low in nutritional value, Kung Fu Tea focuses on creating teas that are healthier, giving customers lots of choices in sweetness and more. For example, with fruity drinks, fruit and real fruit juices are used instead of sugary blends. The company also provides zero-sugar choices. All told, the brand takes cues from a relatively healthy Asian food style that's a great alternative to ultra-sweet drinks (via AIM2Flourish).

Given how popular tea is becoming, this can make a serious health difference. Tea USA notes how studies link tea drinking with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and could also potentially improve one's metabolic health, help neurological function, and boost the immune system. Kung Fu Tea also helps those with dairy sensitivities, as the Milk Strike range of drinks uses lactose-free milk. Meanwhile, the Yogurt series employs sweetened probiotic Yakult. 

The first international Kung Fu Tea outlet debuted in Australia

After tantalizing the taste buds of America, Kung Fu Tea set its sights farther afield as part of its plans to expand internationally. In 2017, the brand opened its first Australian shop in Springvale, Victoria, as the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal reports. At the time, Kung Fu Tea operated more than 120 stores in the United States alone and had plans to expand to more countries, including potential spots in Canada and Vietnam.

Since then, two more branches have opened down under, both in Melbourne. One location is in the Camberwell neighborhood and the other in Southern Cross. However, bubble tea is not new to Australia, with other milk tea brands busy expanding their own operations in this part of the world. The popular chain Gong cha was set to open 17 stores there in 2022 (via Retail News Asia).

Today there are Kung Fu Tea stores all over the world

In just over a decade, Kung Fu Tea has expanded at an impressive rate, with over 300 franchises not only in the U.S. and Australia but also in Canada, where the brand's known as KF Tea. There are also a couple of franchises in Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh. There are also a growing number of Kung Fu Tea spots in Taiwan, where the brand hoping to bring an American brand of bubble tea back to the spot of its culinary inspiration (via Kung Fu Tea). 

Since Kung Fu Tea operates as a franchise business, entrepreneurs can play a part in expanding the presence and profile of the Kung Fu Tea brand. The company also engages business owners in a program in which they can pledge to operate a number of Kung Fu Tea outlets in a certain area, running several franchises during a specific time period (via Dr Franchises)

Kung Fu Tea teamed up with TKK Fried Chicken

In 2018, per the New York Times, a foodie match was made when Kung Fu Tea joined up with Taiwanese chain TKK Fried Chicken. While the chicken restaurant had been going strong for decades in Taiwan, this was to be its first foray into the U.S. The Kung Fu Tea partnership saw the opening of dine-in restaurants with take-out service. The bubble tea varieties there included interesting toppings such as red beans and crushed Oreos, while TKK Fried Chicken added a few exclusive dishes for the American market, like curly fries and Wisconsin-style cheese curds. 

Located in New York's Flatiron District, a second bubble tea and fried chicken restaurant opened in 2020 (via QNS). "We've partnered with TKK to introduce this unique combo that brings together the savory flavors of fried chicken (wings, tenders, drumsticks) and the sweetness of bubble tea and want to invite more adventurous foodies to experience it for themselves," said co-founder Michael Wen.

Dragon Pop is Kung Fu Tea's popcorn venture

It's nearly always to enjoy something to nibble on along with a drink. Kung Fu Tea has gone that extra step and actually created its own unique snacks that are inspired by the chain's unique boba flavors. Yes, that even includes popcorn. The chain's Dragon Pop adds a delicious crunchy texture to any Kung Fu Tea beverage, with air-popped popcorn that comes in individual bags. 

According to Kung Fu Tea, you can have your pick of some seriously unique flavors. You might enjoy a Brown Sugar Milk Tea, which is rich and creamy and has the flavor of black tea. There's also Mango, bringing an Asian, tropical taste. Or, perhaps you'd prefer a sweet Strawberry variety. Meanwhile, Thirteen Spices brings a spicy pop to the proceedings, with its punchy flavors of chili, cumin, nutmeg, and pepper. Perhaps the most unique of the group is the Salted Egg flavor. 

Wow bubbles are made differently

As reported by Chicago Food Magazine, Kung Fu Tea introduced a new limited bubble tea range in 2020. The new line used so-called "wow bubbles," which are made of cooked brown sugar. The bubbles aren't rinsed afterward, helping them absorb more flavor before they're mixed with the tea. Typically, boba is cooked in honey, which is then rinsed off.

The drinks were all Brown Sugar varieties, comprising black, green, and oolong teas, plus coffee. The brown sugar taste adds a deep, almost smoky flavor, given that it's basically made from fried sugar. The brand's Milk Cap adds a salty, creamy dimension to the drink, too.

As well as different sizes, the creamy, brown-sugar richness of the Wow varieties was also available hot, though it was usually served cold. Meanwhile, Herbal Jelly Wow, Cocoa Cream Wow, and Red Bean Wow, along with Oreo Wow, are all made with tea and lactose-free milk (via Kung Fu Tea). 

You can get Kung Fu Tea in a can

By 2022, Kung Fu Tea had expanded into the ready-to-drink (RTD) sector, with green tea in a can. "[Green] tea was a clear choice for us not only because of how ubiquitous it is both among our loyal customers and in the United States, but because it gives us the chance to show off our freshness," said spokesperson Mai Shi (via World Tea News).

Available in all of its outlets, as well as via online retail platforms, the canned drink is made with freshly brewed green tea. With no preservatives or colorings added, the beverage also incorporates nitrogen to ensure that each drink tastes fresh. What's more, this may be just the beginning, as the brand's green tea is purported to be the first of other RTD products that are in the Kung Fu Tea pipeline, according to World Tea News.

It's grown so much that big names have taken notice

Kung Fu Tea's philosophy is to create franchisees and employees who are masters that challenge the beverage industry with fearless innovation. Meanwhile, customers who embrace the Kung Fu Tea spirit are also regarded as masters of perseverance and motivation. Kung Fu Tea, it seems, wants to spread a message of success, and it's perhaps this determination that's seen the brand rise to the top. 

According to World Tea News, Kung Fu Tea is a big player on the global stage, especially within a steadily growing market. The global bubble tea market is set to be worth $4.3 billion by 2027, which is a rise from a valuation of $2.4 billion in 2019. 

In 2016, Kung Fu Tea hit the headlines when politician Hillary Clinton stopped off at the bubble tea shop in New York during her campaign tour. As per Vice, she seemed to enjoy her first boba, commenting, "I've never had chewy tea before!"

Gaming and Kung Fu Tea go hand in hand

In 2019, Square Enix reported that an exclusive Kung Fu Tea drink was being launched to celebrate the release of Nintendo Switch game Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Fans were able to order a game-themed beverage, Tidus & Yuna's Grape Elixir, which was made from black grapes and berry jam. Added to the brew was a Milk Cap, a signature addition to many Kung Fu Tea drinks. 

This wasn't the first time that Kung Fu Tea went hand-in-hand with gaming. In 2018, MMORPG reported that the beverage brand joined forces with ArenaNet to create a themed drink tie-in with Guild Wars 2. The Elder Dragon Dreamy Delight, a variation on the Kung Fu Tea's Cocoa Cream Wow drink, references the antagonists in the game. Users of the Kung Fu Tea app were able to win game-related prizes each day and unlock content within the game, too. 

Kung Fu Tea collaborated with Nintendo

Kung Fu Tea switched up its gaming credentials somewhat in 2022, pairing up with Nintendo for a "Kirby and the Forgotten Land" promotional partnership, as per Silicon Era

In a Kung Fu Tea press release, prizes included a digital game code, as well as a Nintendo Switch set to be handed out to eight winners. The latest installment of the Kirby series sees the pink, bulbous protagonist gaining power by eating items such as vending machines. Perhaps Kirby would enjoy a nice, refreshing bubble tea after all that hard work! Kung Fu Tea released a special "pink drink" to mark the occasion.

While Kung Fu Tea came about by looking back at the halcyon days of cold drinks, the quest that the brand is on now is very much about expanding into the future. To that end, it's working on becoming part of the psyche of gamers and the culture of consumers everywhere.