The tea set: Meet the students behind the Bubble Tea Society

Monday 21 November 2022


St Catharine’s undergraduates are responsible for a new society that brings together students for a taste of bubble tea. Initially established as a College society in late 2021, the Bubble Tea Society became a word-of-mouth sensation and is now registered as a University-wide society, with events attracting students from across the University of Cambridge and also Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

Jermaine Wong is a second-year Modern & Medieval Languages undergraduate at St Catharine’s and the Society’s co-founder and President. She commented:

“Bubble tea is a hot or cold drink made with flavoured teas and (most commonly) tapioca pearls or boba, which resemble bubbles. I originally set up Bubble Tea Soc with Jolyn Koh, a second-year Geographer at Catz who is from Singapore like me: bubble tea is a big part of the food culture where we’re from but, when we looked for a taste of home in Cambridge, the price was often too expensive.”

Jermaine and Jolyn experimented with homemade recipes that combined flavoured teas found on the high street with evaporated and condensed milks. For example, they made up matcha-based tea in a festive shade of green for Bridgemas 2021 when Cambridge students celebrated the start of the Christmas season. Jermaine added:

“We ended up attracting 70-80 students by the end of our first term and receiving really positive feedback, including students from other Colleges asking us to expand. Since bubble tea is popular across East Asia, it turned out to be a great reason for international students to get to know each other and mix outside country-specific societies. We also serve a range of options so students from all countries can have a try.”

Jermaine soon needed to invite three friends from College to help expand the Bubble Tea Society:

  • Difei Chen, a second-year Natural Sciences undergraduate, took on the role of Secretary.
  • Hiu Yu Wong, a second-year Natural Sciences undergraduate, now leads on publicity.
  • Yuhan Tang, a second-year Medical Sciences undergraduate, is looking after sponsorship because the group cannot meet demand with funding from the University and College alone.

St Catharine's members of the Cambridge University Bubble Tea Society
St Catharine's members of the Cambridge University Bubble Tea Society (left-right): Hiu Yu Wong, Difei Chen, Jermaine Wong and Yuhan Tang

Why and Jermaine are also International Officers on the St Catharine’s JCR Committee, representing and supporting the College’s ~80 international undergraduate students.

Highlights from the Bubble Tea Society’s programme for the current academic year include:

  • A stall at the Cambridge International Food Festival on 5 November
  • A Bridgemas event for the second year in a row (see publicity below)
  • A collaboration with the St Catharine’s Smoothie Society
  • A pub quiz with the Taiwanese Society for ARU and Cambridge students
  • An event with Cambridge Student Minds at St Catharine’s where students can sip tea while doing jigsaw puzzles
  • A board game session

For more information, visit the Bubble Tea Society page on Instagram.

Publicity for the Cambridge University Bubble Tea Society's Bridgemas-themed event
Menu for the Cambridge University Bubble Tea Society Bridgemas-themed event