Big Straw introduces the concept of bubble teas and other drinks centred around it. The owners, Ashish Mhatre and Vidya Pai, speak of what got them going

Sip, chew, sip, chew. The experience of drinking bubble tea is indeed unique. It is cold milk tea, much like our local chai, with tapioca pearls added in it. The “bubbles”, however, are not the tapioca pearls, but the froth that forms after the tea is well shaken. It is yum and unique and Big Straw, occupying a cosy, open-air corner at Sahakarnagar, is among the new stores in the city that serves this drink.

Big Straw is the brainchild of Ashish Mhatre and Vidya Pai. The duo discovered the wonders of bubble tea, originally a Taiwanese beverage, on their backpacking trips to South East Asia.

“The idea to introduce it to Bangalore clicked two or three years ago. It was a drink we enjoyed. Besides being a perfect travel drink, it was also a perfect lifestyle drink because people are constantly on the move. You can sit and drink it at our store and also in office, in conference rooms or in parks,” says Ashish.

Treated with respect

“For us it was also exciting to see a beverage being treated with so much respect. It was at the centre of a culinary experience,” explains Vidya. “The experience is so satisfying in many ways, whether aesthetically, in taste or the novelty. It was an ideal concept to introduce into an India that seems ripe for such eating adventures now. The culture exists in a definite way all over the world, ”

While the cuisine they are offering is Bubble tea, it’s not the not only drink they serve. Vidya says: “We have borrowed the concept of eating and drinking in a cup with a big straw. The mainstay of our drink is you chew intermittently while sipping. It’s not limited to teas. We also do fizzy drinks, milky drinks, slushes, smoothies and floats. We experimented with different kinds of beverages which lends themselves to our concept of eat and drink.”

Regular customers to curious onlookers trickle in while workers behind the counter are busy putting a drink together. “When we began, it was Ashish and me working behind the counter,” Vidya reminisces. Now they have a strong workforce smartly dressed in white t-shirts and jeans, who the duo trains.

The company is green as well. “We recycle 95 per cent of the plastic used here. The money we get from the recycling goes to our workers as tip. We want to position Big Straw as an equal opportunities provider,” says Ashish.

Big Straw is Ashish’s and Vidya’s first venture in the Food and Beverage industry. “Ashish has a technology background. My background is finance and real estate,” says Vidya. “It was natural for us to visit Taiwan, to learn and understand the product,” adds Ashish.

Vidya says that they took great care to ensure that the product would not be corrupted or destroyed in the process of transferring it to another country.

Most of the ingredients are sourced to ensure the authenticity of the product.

This column features those who veer off the beaten track