Bee & Tea, a Chicago-based tea destination, is the newest endeavor for Forever Yogurt founder Mandy Calara and Calara hopes boba can now follow the fro-yo craze.
Calara is a serial entrepreneur. In 2007 he created whosout.com, a social networking site, with Ahmad Yilmaz. Three years later, the two teamed up to establish their first frozen yogurt shop. Forever Yogurt took off, making $4 million by 2012. Now Calara has his eye on the growing trend toward tea. Perhaps his early history as a professional poker player prepared him to take big chances.
Bee & Tea’s goal is to bring Taiwanese boba milk tea drinks and bao, steamed buns, to mainstream audiences. Just as frozen yogurt buyers were encouraged to customize their selections, Calara’s boba tea customers can adjust their boba drinks to suit their tastes. Visitors choose iced or hot and then a base, either black tea, green tea, black milk tea, green milk tea or taro milk. There are sweetness adjustments and flavors from almond and chocolate to fruits like guava, peach and blueberry. Toppings include honey boba, red bean, fruit boba and jellies. Even the bao take unexpected forms. Pork buns are joined by bao filled with chorizo, mushroom and quinoa, and butter chicken.
The first Bee & Tea opened in a 1,200-square-foot storefront in Chicago’s Wicker Park. The shop isn’t far from the original Forever Yogurt. Seven additional locations across Illinois and Wisconsin are queued up for the months to come. The company intends to pursue franchising as well as Bee & Tea – Forever Yogurt co-branded stores.
Source: Chicago Reader
Photo: Bee & Tea Logo