Sunderland's first bubble tea shop proves a hit in first few days of opening

Sunderland’s first bubble tea shop has proved a hit with its fun and fruity brews.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 5:59 pm

Inspired by Taiwanese bubble teas, which are hugely popular, Lucky Cat Boba has opened up in a former vape shop in Park Lane where it’s sold more than 1,000 bubble teas, waffles and ice creams in just 10 days since opening.

Mother and daughter business team Sam and Millie Johnston say they’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the business, which is their first venture in their home city.

Speaking about the business which opened for the first time on April 1, Sam said: “The queues have been down the block and one day we ran out of stock because the demand just exceeded our expectations.

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Mother and daughter Sam and Millie Johnston owners of Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, Sunderland.

"This is a great location next to the college and the bus station and it’s really popular with the students. Some customers have been in every day since we opened. We really take pride in looking after our customers, so to have that support so soon is fantastic.”

Visitors can choose from either a fruit tea base, made with oolong and Jasmine tea, or a milk tea base, made with black assam tea. They can then choose toppings of popping juice bubbles with flavours such as passionfruit, cherry, lychee and more or chewy tapioca pearls, which are traditionally used in bubble teas and are known as ‘boba’ in Asia, hence the name of the business. Prices are £3.50 for a regular bubble tea or £4 for a large.

Lucky Cat Boba also sells a range of ice creams, as well as bubble waffles and bubble slushes. The family is all vegetarian and the products they use are all either vegan or vegetarian.

The business women got the keys to the business just after Christmas and have totally renovated the unit. The business is currently open for takeout only, but will have a small number of indoor benches from May 17, when sit-in dining is permitted.

Sam Johnston making waffles at Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, Sunderland.

Sam said: “The business was Millie’s idea as she and her friends used to get the Metro through to Newcastle all the time just to go to bubble tea shops.

“Bubble tea started in Taiwan and has really grown in popularity. It’s really big in the US and there’s a lot of bubble tea shops in the south and London. There’s about 10 shops in Newcastle, but there wasn’t any in Sunderland

Although a pandemic is a difficult time in which to open a new business, Sam said: “I think there’s definitely been an increase in people shopping local which is great to see.”

The bubble tea shop is the latest in a number of new independent businesses to open their doors. At the other side of the city centre, the redevelopment of Mackie’s Corner has seen the arrival of a host of food and drink businesses, including The Fat Unicorn deli and The Sweet Petite cakery.

Making bubble tea and waffles at Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, Sunderland.

From April 12 non-essential shops have been able to reopen which has also seen an increase in footfall in the city centre as the local economy gets back on its feet.

*Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, is open 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sundays. Students and NHS get a 10% discount and you can pick up a loyalty card for offers.

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Read more: cafes and coffee shops with outdoor spaces you can use from April 12.

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Mother and daughter Sam and Millie Johnston owners of Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, Sunderland.
Making bubble tea and waffles at Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, Sunderland.
Making bubble tea and waffles at Lucky Cat Boba, Park Lane, Sunderland.