MajesTea's café pouring over into Mount Pearl

·3 min read
Chen Xue, far right, stands with the with staff at MajesTea in Churchill Square, St. John's. (Submitted by Chen Xue - image credit)
Chen Xue, far right, stands with the with staff at MajesTea in Churchill Square, St. John's. (Submitted by Chen Xue - image credit)

For three years, MajesTea was what owner Chen Xue describes as the only place in Newfoundland and Labrador to find authentic bubble tea.

Now he says it's popular enough to expand.

"The customers, people from this community, they gave us life for this business to survive," he said.

Xue opened the shop in Churchill Square in St. John's in 2019 with the goal of bringing a unique experience to that area of town.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, business was good, he said. But a year later he was looking at selling the business. The deal didn't go through, though, and he decided to stick it out because he didn't want to see MajesTea fold.

"The milk tea we are serving, it's authentic, traditional Asian milk tea," he said. "All the flavour comes directly from the tea."

Elizabeth Whitten/CBC
Elizabeth Whitten/CBC

That's important to Xue because he said it makes MajesTea's beverages healthier. It also means they're halal, meaning they meet Islamic laws on food preparation.

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It's a tea-based drink known for its tapioca balls that sink to the bottom of the cup, and it's blended with milk, fruit and fruit juices.

Getting bubble tea right was so important to Xue he travelled across the country trying out different tea shops. Before opening MajesTea, he said, he'd travelled through Asia and met with tea farmers and producers to ensure he'd have a high-quality product shipped directly to his shop. Unlike a lot of shops that sell bubble tea, Xue said, he doesn't add flavour powder to the drink.

Elizabeth Whitten/CBC
Elizabeth Whitten/CBC

Stephanie Roberts has been coming to the shop for about a year now, after her friend convinced her to try it.

"She was like, 'You have to try this!' And I said, 'I do not like bubble tea but OK. I like you so much I'll give it a try.' And she got me totally hooked," said Roberts.

While Roberts has tried bubble tea from other shops, she said MajesTea stands out because it uses fresh fruit, making a higher-quality product. Sometimes a menu item can't be served because the fruit isn't ready, she said.

She said some people don't like the texture of the tapioca so MajesTea has a option with popping pearls: little round balls filled with juice.

"It's such a really welcoming environment. And even if you have it in your head that you don't like bubble tea, there are other things you can get," she said.

Xue said his new location — at 1 Olympic Dr. in Mount Pearl, sharing a roof with Pipers — will serve the beverages his café is known for, with some additions. Fancy desserts are being added to the menu, like binsu, a Korean shaved ice treat.

"Right now all the renovations are done and it's in the hands of the health inspectors. We are waiting for the final inspection from the health inspector. Hopefully we could open at the end of this month."

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