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Episode 2: The idea

Where were we then? Ah yes, four friends from high school decided to come together to start a bubble tea place in Delhi. But, where did that idea come from?

We go back to January 2019. YuSung was visiting India for the first time since he left Woodstock in May 2011. He just wanted to come back to India for a little vacation. While here, he met up with Armaan, and one day they went to Cyberhub in Gurgaon, to have lunch with some other classmates. While walking around, Yu Sung was astounded by how much Delhi and India had changed in just 8 years.

Armaan was telling YuSung how much he missed having good bubble tea – he had become used to his regular bubble tea pick-me-up drink while he was living in the US, and returning to Delhi, he had found the options for bubble tea to be quite limited and mostly dissatisfying. He joked to YuSung that they should open a bubble tea store, and YuSung joked back that he would invest the money if Armaan was willing to take care of day-to-day operations.

YuSung returned to Korea – he was working in a city called Pohang, a small port city about 4 hours away from Seoul. Though he was working for a reputable company, he found life becoming mundane and started questioning what it was that he wanted from his life. He would often meet with SuAh in Seoul on the weekends, who he had kept in touch with after high school, and shared his existential dilemmas with him. During one of these meetings, he casually mentioned perhaps starting a bubble tea business in India, remembering Armaan’s joke from a couple months ago.

Bubble Tea research (Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan)

SuAh thought YuSung was making a hasty decision, blurred by his existential dread. He tried to make YuSung realize that he may be making a mistake by pursuing this, but the more YuSung thought about it, the more he was convinced that this was the right decision. So, he started working on convincing SuAh to also join him.

SuAh had also wanted to return to India at some point, and try working on something here. He gave YuSung a chance to explain the vision. So, every weekend, YuSung would come up to Seoul and he and SuAh would visit different bubble tea places in the city, figuring out what they liked and what they didn’t, in terms of the menu offerings and also the overall ambiance. SuAh even took up a job at a bubble tea store in Seoul for a couple of months, to learn how a café operates and what goes into the production of bubble tea.

While researching different bubble tea shops, they found Boba Guys, an American bubble tea chain, operating in California and New York City. Boba Guys had created a friendly atmosphere in their bubble tea shops, where customers knew and interacted with each other and the store workers, and that was exactly the vibe they wanted to go for.

YuSung had, meanwhile, also been communicating with Armaan, to gauge if this was something he would like to consider more seriously. Armaan had, by now, moved to Mumbai for a new job. But he was excited and was easily convinced.

Towards the end of 2019, YuSung and SuAh had decided to quit their jobs and take the plunge. And in December 2019, packed with a few clothes and other personal belongings, YuSung and SuAh arrived in Delhi.

YuSung leaving Seoul for New Delhi

This journal is an ongoing series tracing the story of Got Tea, the latest bubble tea store launched in India, located in South Delhi. Want to know what happens next? Stay tuned – new episodes come out every Monday!