A new bubble tea shop with an international pedigree is coming to Dallas. Called Gong Cha, it's a chain from Taiwan that will debut in North Texas with two branches: one in Richardson and another in Plano.
The Richardson branch will open at 1425 E. Belt Line Rd., in the Richardson Village complex at Plano Road; in Plano, the address is 2205 N. Central Expwy., at the corner of Park Boulevard, in the space once occupied by Tomo Sushi.
According to a company spokesperson, the two branches will open in early February.
Bubble tea shops enjoyed a local surge in the late 2000s, some of which have since closed. But there are also places along Greenville Avenue in Richardson that have been doing bubble tea since before it was a trend, such as Taiwan Cafe and Boba Latte, which some aficionados view as the gold standard.
Gong Cha was founded in 2006 and calls itself the largest bubble tea franchise in the world, with more than 1,300 locations worldwide. By worldwide, they mean Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Macau, Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US of A.
The first branch in the United States opened in Queens in 2014. The chain made its Texas debut in July 2016 with a store in Houston.
Gong Cha translates to "tribute tea for the emperor." Known for quality tea and service, its policy is to brew its teas freshly every four hours and cook its "bubbles," aka the chewy tapioca balls also called "pearls," every four hours, as well. Everything is four hours around here.
The house specialty is a unique item called "milk foam," consisting of a slightly salted cream topping ladled over freshly brewed tea. Like the salted caramel of tea. There are even three ways to consume it: drinking from the top so that the tea gets filtered through the milk, drinking with a straw so that the tea and milk are consumed separately, or stirring it all together. So complicated!
There are coffees, slushes, smoothies, and yogurt drinks. There is a set of "panda drinks," which are creative spins incorporating ingredients such as milk foam and crushed Oreos.
And then there are endless varieties of tea: from basic green tea to inventions such as hot brown sugar ginger tea and hibiscus tea with basil seeds, dubbed the "new superfood."