Store manager Emily Huang with assistant manager Phi Zin at Lollicup’s Sawtelle and Wilshire store. Photo by Westside People
When Alan Yu and Marvin Cheng founded Lollicup Coffee and Tea 13 years ago, they had a simple goal in mind. They wanted to bring the most popular beverages from Taiwan to the United States. The most common drink was boba milk tea, invented in Taiwan during the 1980s with its signature tapioca balls.
Since its arrival, boba tea (or bubble tea) has swept the nation, especially on college campuses. Lollicup now has 36 licensee locations in the U.S., four corporate-owned stores throughout the Southland, and two international locations in China.
Each location is unique. The Sawtelle and Wilshire store welcomes a young crowd with bright lights, dance music, and fun artwork hung on orange walls. Television screens display a menu of more than 70 variations of tea from Thai to taro, with choices of beverage add-ons, such as boba, fruit, jellies, and more. They also serve food, such as Beef Noodle Soup, Fried Seafood, and Popcorn Chicken.
Store Manager Emily Huang, who was raised in Taiwan, said working at Lollicup makes her feel close to her heritage. “A lot of boba tea from other places can make you feel bloated,” Huang said. “At Lollicup, we use a special Chinese herb that makes you digest the tea faster and you are not left with that bloated feeling.”
In addition to the Chinese herb, Lollicup manufactures and distributes tea leaves, syrups, and beverage mixes for its Coffee and Tea locations and produces its own brand of beverage add-ons, including boba, which is also used by other bubble tea retailers.