Wanting to share their love for boba tea and provide more authentic, personalized drinks to the Muncie community, husband and wife duo Maria and Jay R. Cabasag opened PositiviTea, a family-owned business, in May.
“Boba tea was always our favorite, so we decided to make a boba tea store,” their son Ernest Cabasag said.
The Cabasags aim to be different from other tea shops by making the experience more individualized and friendly, citing personal encounters on the customer side as having been very transactional.
“Everyone of any age is welcome,” Maria said. “We are willing to help them or walk them through the menu, and we can explain everything to them since we created the menu.”
They have had a variety of customers in the Muncie community, including a few Ball State University professors, Maria said.
“It's really nice to meet people from different walks of life,” Jay R. said.
In the Philippines, where Maria and Jay R. grew up, there was a boba shop on practically every street. Their experience with boba contributed to their decision to open PositiviTea, wanting to provide an option with more flavors locally.
Maria and Jay R. originally both had full-time jobs on top of being new business owners when they started their entrepreneurial endeavors, but they quit those jobs a month after opening in order to focus on the store full-time. The shop, located on McGalliard Road between Vindictive Motorsports and Valvoline Instant Oil Change, was first opened May 8.
The Cabasag family worked together to transform the former tattoo shop into a boba tea shop. They did the decorations themselves, painting the space together and Jay R. built the counter. The seating area has string lights and small shelves of potted plants adorning the walls, with paintings by local artist Imelda Morris hanging on either side of the television. These paintings are for sale and can be purchased by customers using a QR code system on the wall next to the art.
On the counter, a screen displays the colorful menu of drinks available, designed by Maria. PositiviTea offers a very wide variety of drinks, including a selection of boba teas, milk teas, iced teas and ice blended drinks, and customers are able to request flavors.
The addition of coffee to the menu is planned for mid-September. There are vegan and allergy-friendly options with the majority of drinks being non-dairy, except the Thai milk tea. Jay R. is lactose intolerant himself and always tries all the drinks he creates.
“I have yet to have a bad drink there.” Michael Prater, a Ball State art education associate professor, who frequents PositiviTea, said. “Everything they make is made fresh and because they control the amount of sweetness that you can have 𑁋 that’s usually what will put somebody off of a flavor in boba … they allow you to choose the sweetness of a drink; it gives you a lot of control, so everything tends to be good.”
PositiviTea allows customers to select from multiple lists of options and create their own combinations to meet their preferences, Prater said. A self-proclaimed big fan of boba tea, he recommends the tiger brown sugar drink, which he dubbed a crowd pleaser, and the coconut milk tea with traditional boba. His current favorite, however, is the frozen peach with traditional and popping strawberry boba. His entire family loves to visit the shop for drinks too.
“It’s as good as a boba tea place could be,” Prater said
With boba tea and Filipino options lacking in Muncie, Maria shares that many people who visit have questions about the drinks and pre-packaged Filipino snacks.
“Sometimes, people you're introducing something to ... it's kind of weird for them,” Maria said. “There'll be a lot of questions. One person came in and asked me if we were selling collagen drinks, and if that was the Filipino way of selling boba tea.”
The Cabasags said they have learned a lot from running PositiviTea. Unlike having an eight-to-five job, where there is a certain time work is finished for the day, running a business has work to be done outside of a strict schedule, and there are a lot of things that go into it.
“It's not only the drink making, but also the paperwork, how you market yourself and all, and you don't know what the future holds,” Maria said. “Because for your eight-to-five job, you expect every two weeks to get paid the amount of money that you work for. But for this one, it's a gamble.”
Several additions for PositiviTea are in the works, the Cabasags shared.
They currently do not cook food on-site, but they hope to branch out and serve authentic Filipino food made fresh by a cook in the future.
A website is in progress, which Maria is currently creating. It is expected to be completed and available in roughly a month or two. The store currently doesn’t have any social media.
PositiviTea offers both takeout and dine-in, along with a delivery option. Their store is also dog-friendly, Maria said.
“My favorite part of the shop is the owners — a husband-and-wife team — and they have so much enthusiasm and energy, and they are so committed to having a successful business, and to developing a customer base and providing a quality product,” Prater said. “The name of the business; they absolutely embody it.”
Contact Scarlet Gallager with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.