4U Bubble Tea brings popular beverage to Hanover

by Sydney Wuu | 1/22/21 2:00am

by Maddie Doerr / The Dartmouth Staff

To the delight of many students in Hanover, 4U Bubble Tea on Main Street opened for business on Jan. 16.

Shop owner Janice Zheng said she came to Hanover to fill a bubble tea void. Many Dartmouth students are excited that the bubble tea shop — which offers everything from traditional tapioca boba and milk teas to other Asian snacks — brings a favorite food item and social activity to Hanover.

“I created my own name for my store because I really wanted to introduce boba to everybody,” Zheng said. “I love boba. Every time I go to Massachusetts or New York, the first thing I do is look for the boba. I created the name ‘4U,’ as in I do it ‘for you.’”

Zheng ran a gas station in White River Junction for six years before venturing to Hanover. Previously, she owned a restaurant in New York City that served a small selection of bubble tea.

“There are tons of bubble tea [shops] in New York City, and when I [came] here about seven or eight years ago, I wondered why there was no bubble tea shop around the Upper Valley,” Zheng said. “I [was] just too busy with my gas station business, so I just didn’t have time to think about it.”

Originally from Fujian, China, Zheng described opening a new shop in the midst of COVID-19 as an “opportunity.” 

“Before COVID-19, I really could not find any affordable space for rent on Main Street,” she said. “A few months ago, I finally found one that is actually perfect for the size that I was seeking and close to campus.”

The shop replaces My Brigadeiro, which moved to a more prominent Main Street location earlier this year.

Zheng’s bubble tea shop — which allows customers to order online or in person — has attracted many students within its opening days. She described business as going “very well” thus far, with Thai milk tea, taro milk tea and brown sugar fresh milk tea among the most popular orders.

“They love it. I already have many returning customers,” Zheng said.

Courtesy of May Fahrenthold ’22

4U Bubble Tea offers drinks including traditional hot and iced milk teas, popping bubble teas, milkshakes and flavored slushes. In addition, the store carries an assortment of imported snacks, including candies and mochi from Japan, Korea and Taiwan. The store is also offering a promotion of 10% off for the first order any customer places online.

May Fahrenthold ’22, who visited 4U Bubble Tea for the first time this week, ordered a rose milk tea with tapioca pearls for herself and a honeydew milk tea for her boyfriend. 

“We both liked them a lot,” Fahrenthold said. “I definitely think the store had a really cute atmosphere when I went to pick up my order.”

She added that she is “really excited” to sit in the shop and potentially do homework after the pandemic.

“It is distinctly a boba shop vibe,” Fahrenthold said. “If you were going to go study in Starbucks, why not go study and have boba at [4U Bubble Tea]?”

Lauren Hwang ’24, who said she has enjoyed many boba teas in the past, tried the shop’s taro milk tea. 

“The drink itself was very sweet with earthy tones, and the taro flavor was pretty strong, but not overwhelming,” Hwang said. She noted the drink was a bit too sweet for her but said that next time, she would check out other flavors and perhaps ask for a lower level of sweetness. Customers can request variations such as “half sweet.”

Judy Guo ’24, who has lived in Hanover all her life, recently tried 4U Bubble Tea’s Thai tea and mango tea, both top sellers.

“Both drinks were super refreshing,” she said. “The bobas had great texture, the cat lids were so cute and the drinks themselves had the perfect ratio of ice to liquid.”

Whether patrons order online or in person, all customers must pick up their drinks from the store, as the business does not currently offer delivery.

Zheng said that the shop is not currently planning to offer delivery or participate in the online ordering service Snackpass in the future because they chose an address close to campus so that it would be convenient for student customers.

Jimmy Nguyen ’21, however, said he thinks any restaurant on Main Street should include delivery options, especially amid COVID-19, “partly because it’s winter and students are lazy, but also because it’s the safest option.”

Following the closure of Swirl and Pearl — which offered bubble tea — last summer, Guo added 4U Bubble Tea will bring “more diversity to Hanover.” 

Nguyen grew up with “fairly large” Vietnamese and Chinese populations and plenty of boba shops in his hometown in Mesa, Arizona. He said he is “definitely looking forward” to having 4U Bubble Tea open in the area. 

“Boba is something I got regularly with my family,” Nguyen said. “It’s something that is necessary in my opinion. When quarantine lifts, I’ll definitely be going and inviting friends to join me as well.”