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R&B has over 1,000 bubble milk tea shops worldwide, yet most San Diegans have never even heard of the brand’s name. According to Teresa Le, the CEO of R&B’s American market, that won’t be the case for much longer.
By the end of 2021, R&B Tea will have at least 20 stores across the country, with most of those concentrated in Southern California, Le told What Now San Diego.
Chula Vista and Carlsbad are among the locations which Californians can look forward to visiting soon.
R&B Tea’s Chula Vista location will open in April at 2015 Birch Road, Ste 907. Around the same time, R&B will also debut at The Shoppes at Carlsbad at 2525 El Camino Real in the space that most recently held Nekter Juice Bar.
R&B does not refer to rhythm and blues. Rather, Le explained, it stands for the initials of the founders, Rex and Bruce. When Bruce moved from Taiwan to China, he missed the convenience and quality of the milk tea from his home country. In 2006, he decided to open R&B’s first branch in Suzhou, China.
Bubble milk tea, also known as boba or pearl milk tea, originated in Taichung, Taiwan in the early ‘80s. Quick-service, high-quality tea shops are now ubiquitous in Taiwan, and R&B Tea aims to recreate that experience for American tea-lovers.
“We focus a lot more on the quality of the tea than other bubble tea shops,” Le said. “We think of boba as more of a topping. Even though bubble tea is a very popular item in our shops, and we care about the quality of the boba we sell, our main focus is on the tea.”
R&B sources their tea from all over the world, including an Oolong blend from Taiwan and Fujian province, a black tea from Sri Lanka, and green tea from Zhejiang, China.
“For people who don’t really care about tea, they might not understand what our brand is doing,” Le said. “They’ll think it tastes good, of course, but they won’t see what really sets us apart. But if you’re really into high-quality tea, then you’ll love it so much more.”