The other day, my sister suggested I visit this new tea joint YoYo! Fresh Tea Bar in Amsterdam. My sister is aware that I have the utmost dislike for blended mucks posing for bubble teas and figured I might want to try this. By all means, I’m no advocate of bubble teas. I don’t drink it that often nor am I an expert on the Asian drink. But when I do drink it, the last thing I want is a bottom of slightly uncooked tapioca balls and a powdery mix that floats atop (true story). Expecting absolutely nothing, I decided to give YoYo! Fresh Tea Bar in Amsterdam a try.
When I enter the joint, the first thing I notice, is the interior. There are cute decorations everywhere. I meet up with the owner of YoYo! Fresh Tea Bar, Wing. Wing is an IT specialist, tea lover and entrepreneur. I immediately ask Wing about the display of the little items in the store. Wing explains that YoYo! Fresh Tea Bar in Amsterdam is a collaboration with Asia Station. The two combined, form a highly new concept store, the kind we’re starting to see everywhere these days. I’ve seen food and retail combined stores throughout Europe (with a lot in Germany mostly), Asia and even in the US. It seems like a real trend, one that has now also set foot in Amsterdam.
I fire off my questions at Wing. Wing tells me about his tea business and how the idea came about. When I ask him about bubble tea, I am instantly corrected by Wing. While YoYo! Fresh Tea Bar does serve bubble teas, it is so much more. Wing describes YoYo! as the new tea bar in town. Now, we’ve seen a lot of coffee joints pop up over the years. Coffee Company was the coffee pioneer in the Netherlands, then there was Starbucks. After the coffee craze, we saw the juice bar trend take off a couple of years ago. And now, who’s to say it isn’t time for more tea? I could definitely use some.
I tell Wing that I am on a search for the perfect bubble tea and ask how the bubble tea he serves is different from the ones we’ve had in the Netherlands so far. Wing chuckles and argues that, while he does not know how other bubble tea joints make their bubble teas, he can assure that YoYo!’s is made of fresh and rich tea blends, and that’s got to count for something. It’s the most important thing to him, the tea. And it should be balanced correctly with the added flavors of the customer’s choice, something that isn’t easy to do. I agree that we take for granted the time and effort put into something as simple as a tea drink. I read an article in the Washington Post the other day. The author struggled with making the perfect bubble tea and argued that creating the right flavor is really a long and thoughtful process and not something you ‘just’ whip up.
Wing presents me with two of his YoYo! favorites: the Hong Kong Milk Tea and the Watermelon Perfection Tea. Both of the teas were created by Wing himself and you could see he’s most proud of the latter. He argues that he is a perfectionist. Everything has to be perfect. The tapioca pearls for instance, are measured to perfection and every uncooked, overcooked and one-hour old batch is thrown away instantly. And every tea he serves, bursts with flavor. Wing lets me in on a secret. YoYo! will be teaming up with Lipton teas in the fall, something he is very excited about. It’s still a little hush-hush, but I’m excited to sample blends from this collaboration. Could it be that the Netherlands is actually getting a serious tea bar? It would be a first.
While Wing goes off to help his customers, I take a sip of the Hong Kong Milk Tea. The tea brings me back to summers in Hong Kong and Malaysia. It’s sweet, but not overly sweet. The tapioca pearls are the right smooth and silky texture. And there is a stronger tea flavor than in most bubble teas I’ve had in the Netherlands. Now, the Watermelon Perfection Tea is something of a whole other level. It’s fresh, it’s sweet and juicy. If you could taste the summer season in a drink, this would be it.
I came looking for bubble tea but found a tea bar instead. I can’t help but wonder if this tea joint will mark the beginning of a new era. The tea era, if you will. Whatever becomes of the tea era, bring it on!