Meet the Street: NorTea

When husband and wife, Byron and Hsin Ee moved to Bendigo from Taiwan a few years back, they noticed that there was nowhere in Bendigo to buy bubble tea.

Bubble tea is a large part of the night market culture in their home of Taiwan, so in 2019 they opened Nortea in Lyttleton Terrace.

Originally, bubble tea was combination of tea, milk, ice, and sugar, shaken together in a cocktail shaker. The ‘bubble’ refers to the thick layer of foam that forms on the top of the drink after shaking. Today’s bubble tea is vastly different to the way it was originally created.

Somewhere in the 1980s, the slightly-chewy-slightly-sweet tapioca balls were added. Now a staple addition to the drink, tapioca was a popular dessert in Taiwan at the time. The origins of who exactly had this idea is unclear. Two Taiwanese teahouses, Hanlin Tea Room and Chun Shui Tang have been in unresolved legal disputes over who had the idea first. Despite the complicated history, the addition of tapioca balls to the drink is why the popularity soared both in Taiwan, and across the world.

When Hsin Ee and Byron opened NorTea, they wanted to make sure that their customers were enjoying an authentic Taiwanese experience – as if you had travelled to Taiwan and bought bubble tea from one of the many street vendors at the night markets yourself. To achieve this, NorTea imports authentic ingredients from Taiwan, and only use traditional Taiwanese flavours.

The highly customisable nature of bubble tea means you can have a different experience every time you visit. Nortea have more than just tapioca pearls to add to your drink, they also offer various flavoured jellies and pearls. These are made from coconut water, making them vegan and gluten free. Many of NorTea’s bubble teas are also made with dairy free milk, and they have smoothies, frappes, fresh teas, and fruit teas.

If you are new to bubble tea, it can feel a little overwhelming with so much variation. Start with something traditional and simple, like the pearl milk tea or classic milk tea with tapioca pearls.

For the lyttle more adventurous, try the peach oolong milk tea or the swirl brown sugar milk tea for a delicious experience.

NorTea is located at 281 Lyttleton Terrace, next door to Lyttle Asia at the Williamson Street end of Lyttle Eat Street.

See the menu here: