Speaking globally, Ben Stoyenko took a concept from the East and broght it to the West. In a national sense, he brought something from the west to the east.
Bubble tea—a sweet drink with tapioca “bubbles” that pop in the mouth—was invented in Taiwan, and then made its way to America, the West. The drink has been a hit in western states for nearly a decade, and now it is appearing in eastern states, and, most recently, East Baltimore.
Stoyenko has just opened American Boba—which sells bubble tea, milk bubble tea, smoothies and “signature smoothies”—at 425 S. Conkling St. in Highlandtown.
“I wanted to try out this idea,” he said. “We spent this summer getting the store together.”
Stoyenko, 20, is a young entrepreneur and also a college student at the University of Maryland. He has two years to go. His previous two years were spent at the University of Southern California.
“Boba tea is huge out there,” Stoyenko said. “I wanted to kind of Americanize it, because I noticed that out there, they catered to mostly Asian cultures, but everybody likes it.”
All teas have a green tea base, with additional fruit flavor options, such as mango, blueberry, pineapple and strawberry. There are also milk teas, which are creamier.
“Everyone that’s tried it really likes it, and it’s unique,” said Stoyenko.
It is different. Stoyenko and employee Marie Zachmann brought samples to the Guide office for the staff. With the clear cups, you can see the bubbles settled at the bottom of the opaque liquid. Rather than a snap-on lid, as in a fountain drink, the lid of the boba tea is a sealed on, clear plastic membrane. Tip the cup upside down and nothing comes out.More importantly, one can shake up the drink so the bubbles distribute through the liquid. Then punch the fat straw through the membrane and suck down the bubbles with the tea.
The sealed lid gives the drinks appearance of being premade and shipped, but everything is in fact made on S. Conkling St.
“A lot of people get confused, because they think you’re supposed to rip off the seal, rather than punch the straw through it,” said Stoyenko.
by Erik Zygmont