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Hidden Gems: Meet Frank Lu of Simply Sip Tea

Today we’d like to introduce you to Frank Lu.

Hi Frank, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I went to Penn State for undergrad, majored in Economics. Then come to Baltimore for a Master’s degree in finance. Boba tea has been popular in Asia for many years. Lots of young people drink it every day. In the US, there are many chain Boba tea shops in New York or California. However, the idea of Boba tea seems still new to folks in Baltimore city. When I was a student at Johns Hopkins Carey campus five years ago, I noticed in the city there are not many opinions. As a business student, I did a lot of field research and analysis. Eventually, after having few years of savings from working as a bank analyst. I decided to open my shop right next to the JHU Carey campus. It’s near the downtown of the city and has a lot of foot traffic. The shop was opened in Oct. 2019.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Running a business could never be a smooth road. The pandemic situation started in early 2020 as one of the biggest challenges for us. As a new shop opened at the end of 2019, the city lockdown, school closes, and companies choose to work from home largely reduced our revenue. We have to transfer and rely on more “online to delivery” business forms. By increasing operation efficiency, launch new products, we did recover from the downtimes.

The biggest long-term challenge for us is how to bring more people to like tea products. Coffee as the major everyday drinking product is dominating the US market. Tea has a similar function as coffee to keep people awake, while more gently and persistently. Most people in here don’t have the habit of drinking tea. Boba tea is becoming popular while we still want something that can catch customers’ eyes and change their opinion about tea. So we are infusing the smoothie ideas into the tea business. Our best-selling products now are “Coconut mango bliss” and “Pink Velvet Berry”. The real organic fruit smoothie combined with freshly brewed tea brought customers the feelings they never had in other tea businesses. We hope more people can have the chance to experience it and become healthy tea drinkers.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Simply Sip Tea. The business name is originated from our business goal, which is to bring people a simple drink that can show off the beauty of tea. Customers don’t need to understand anything complicated about tea, just simply sip the tea and enjoy. We are specialized in Boba tea and fruit tea. Our signature fruit tea series were made with our secret recipe from organic real fruits and freshly brewed tea. All of our tea and boba ingredients are of the highest quality we can find in the industry and shipped from Asia. The organic fruits are from tropical American areas. Picked at the peak of freshness and quick-frozen to lock in moisture, flavor, and nutrients. With these natural and high-quality ingredients, Simply Sip Tea drinks are loved by our loyal customers. To reward our best customers, we offer punch cards for free drinks, gift card discounts, and occasionally buy one get one free item.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
Bring tea drinks to people’s everyday life makes me happy. And it is our shop’s ultimate goal. We want to provide an alternative option other than coffee. In fact, US people had tea culture that coming from Great Britain. While due to historical and practical reasons. Coffee is the most popular beverage. People drink too much coffee these days. On the other hand, drinking tea has been proven to lower risks of cancer and heart disease, improved weight loss and a stronger immune system. If people are more aware of this, there should be more tea shops and tea-related beverages on the market. Our goal as a shop is to make good tea drinks that people love and can easily get. We will try our best to achieve that.

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