Trendy Taiwanese boba tea shop bubbles up in bustling North Austin district

Taiwanese boba tea shop bubbles up in bustling North Austin district

Gong Cha milk tea
Gong Cha is days away from opening its third Austin location. Gong Cha/Facebook

With over 1,600 franchise shops, Gong Cha bills itself as “the most recognized bubble tea brand in the world,” but it is still a relatively unknown concept in Austin. That may change when the Taiwan-based chain opens a new location in the bustling Domain Northside development.

Gong Cha's newest store will open Saturday, June 15, at 3210 Esperanza Crossing, Ste. 126 on the Rock Rose strip, according to a release. The location is the third for the Austin area, following openings near the University of Texas campus and in Cedar Park in summer 2018.

Gong Cha, which translates to “tribute tea from the emperor,” was founded in Taiwan in 2006 and has since grown rapidly throughout Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. The brand made its Texas debut in July 2016 in Houston.

The chain has garnered a large following for its quality green, oolong, and black teas. Brewed every four hours, the three varieties form the base for an astonishing array of offerings including panda drinks with milk foam and crushed Oreo cookies and fruity concoctions with mango, lychee, passionfruit, and winter melon (the more glamorous name for wax gourd). There’s also a mustache series, presumably named after the frothy topper that inevitably winds up on guests' lips.

Gong Cha’s milk teas, which — you guessed it — blend tea with milk, can be customized with various add-ons like pudding, herbal jelly squares, and chewy tapioca pearls. The bestseller, however, is a lightly salted milk foam tea that resemble a liquid version of salted caramels.

"Gong Cha is a place for all tea lovers," said Austin franchise cofounder Ellis Huang in the release. "No matter what your tastes are, you will find your favorite drinks among Gong Cha’s many choices. We customize every drink to fit your unique taste preference while maintaining the ‘Gong Cha style’ — fresh and unforgettable."

The shop will be offering buy-one-get-one specials during its Rock Rose grand opening celebration June 15-16. Hours for Gong Cha are 11 am to 11 pm daily.