What would the bubble tea experience be without the pearls? Now imagine if these edible beads of joy had their own unique flavours.
Taiwan’s 丸作 has brought its iconic brand of bubble tea right here in Singapore. Customers can choose from a total of four different pearl flavours to go with your bubble tea drink: white (original), black sesame, burnt caramel and pink cactus.
Opening on Saturday (30 September) at Tampines 1 mall, the store has been renamed “PlayMade”, a play on its original Chinese name. The brand has seen long queues across its 17 outlets in Taiwan following its launch in 2015. It has also recently opened branches in Canada, Vietnam and Australia.
During a media preview at the store on Thursday (28 September) afternoon, PlayMade’s principal Joe Li, who was also part of the pioneer team for the very first shop in Taiwan, demonstrated the entire pearl-making process to members of the media.
The pearls are made from fresh and natural ingredients without the use of additives or food colourings. For example, the pink cactus pearls are made from the delicate pink pulp of the “penghu” cactus, which is found only in Taiwan.
The fruits used for the drinks are also fresh, with the hand-pulped flesh still visible in the drink. The sweetness level of the drinks can also be customised for those watching their sugar intake. Drinks at PlayMade are priced from S$2.20 and are available in both medium and large sizes.
“Every brand has its own special trait. We focus on using natural and fresh ingredients and seek to hunt for unique flavours,” said Li referring to how PlayMade’s concept centres on its flavoured pearls. “It is not rocket science but it is a creative twist in the industry as no one else has this”.
The pearls are handmade daily, with the help of machines located in the store. With the shop’s open-concept design, customers can watch for themselves how the pearls are made. Staff at the store will make the pearls every hour to keep them “as fresh as possible”, said Li.
The whole process takes around 30 to 45 minutes and stringent criteria have been set for the PlayMade’s pearl makers. Only two staff members at the Singapore outlet have so far been deemed qualified to make the pearls.
“A lot of training is required as we want to emphasise on the quality of the pearls,” said Li. “The staff must also be able to manage the store on top of making the pearls.”
Li has also promised that Singaporeans can look out for more localised flavours in the near future. Here’s a list of five signature drinks and the respective pearls that PlayMade recommends:
- Grapefruit Yakult Green Tea
- Orange Green Tea with Pink Cactus Pearls
- Cocoa Latte with White Pearls
- Black Milk Tea with Burnt Caramel Pearls
- Green Tea Latte with Black Sesame Pearls
More outlets will be rolled out in Singapore in the near future, especially if the public’s response to the Tampines branch is good. PlayMade also has plans to expand to even more countries such as Hong Kong and South Korea.
The flagship PlayMade store in Singapore is located at #01-59 Tampines 1, right beside the taxi stand. It is a one minute’s walk away from Tampines MRT and opens daily from 10am to 10pm.
Here’s a first look at the menu:
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