Bubble tea (also known as boba drinks, pearl milk tea and boba milk tea) is a Taiwanese drink invented in the 1980s. It’s a cold drink, typically made with black or green tea, milk, flavored syrups or fruits, toppings, some type of sweetener like sugar, ice and you can get "bubbles" - tapioca pearls made from the cassava plant. The sweet taste of the tea paired with the chewy tapioca balls is the unique experience that boba drinks are famous for.
The Paper. stopped at Windmill Tea House at 11200 Montgomery Blvd NE Suite 22 to chat with the owners about their “Bubble offerings.” The clean, open-space atmosphere encountered is the perfect place for kids, teens and adults. There’s Wi-Fi, and the owners encourage you to study, enjoy family time, or just hang out with a yummy drink full of flavor and get some work done. They even have board games. Windmill is open from 11am to 8pm but closed Tuesdays.
Their menu is easy to follow and allows lots of customization of their tasty drinks. They’ve a phone app for online ordering and points are earned for purchases. Social media reviews earn free toppings.
It took owners Dan Vu and Thao Bui two years to lay the groundwork and develop a business plan. Bui has a degree in Office Technology from CNM and Vu, a Secondary Education degree from UNM.
“You have to do it right. We did our homework and put a lot of effort into planning for the shop,” Bui explained. “Family support has been crucial.”
They both came to the U.S. from Vietnam with their families. Vu in 2008, and Bui in 2018. Bui created their drink recipes based on her memory of boba drinks she had back home. “We didn't have to spend a dime learning a recipe from someone else,” Vu said. They opened in October 2021.
“We had a few tough moments where it was like, man, what are we doing? What's going on? We had never owned a business,” Vu explained. “We had all these degrees, information and abilities, but had never put them to use. Sometimes the numbers didn't add up. And we were like, wow, how long can we keep up like this? We changed and we adapted. It was tough.”
They also created a positive work environment for their work crew. “I understand what they need, what they are really looking for in the place they want to continue to work for. Our workers are wonderful,” Vu said.
Patronage from locals is now building quickly, Vu said, particularly with COVID restrictions lifting. Located next to El Dorado High School, the cafe sees lots of students hang out and do their homework where their parents know it's safe. Local customers donate large plushies that decorate Windmill. Students gift the tea house with painted art they make that hangs on the wall.
“We are a family business here to serve the people and are here because of their support. And we wouldn't be where we are without it. Our slogan is: ‘Customers come in with a smile. They need to leave with a smile.’”
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