Market Spotlight: Bubbling with love at the Market
We recently caught up with Anna Fields to ask a few questions about her Bubble Love bubble tea that she started selling at the Market last year. Her stand is located in the main dining area of the Market House, near the entrance to International Market.
What the heck is bubble tea?
Yes, I get this question a lot. Bubble Tea is a milk or fruit tea served with tapioca pearls (aka boba). It's not carbonated, as many think, but is more of a snack drink or dessert drink completely in its own category. A stroke of genius, if you ask me, created by a Taiwanese restaurant owner in the 1980s. It's now a worldwide phenomenon that we have brought to Nashville!
What's your favorite flavor, and the most popular that you sell?
I'm a die-hard ‘classic’ drinker. Having spent more than 9 years in China, I would grab a classic on my way to work, and then on the way home to have with dinner. We have obviously expanded the menu to cover a wide variety of palates, and most of our customers go for taro (the purple one) or lychee (one of our fruit teas). But honestly — we sell whatever we make samples of because as soon as people get a taste, they go for it.
What do you most enjoy about retailing at the Market?
I love learning from the local entrepreneurs who have been retailing or feeding Nashville for years. They have so much experience, and as a stay-at-home-mom turned small business owner, I have lots to learn. The vibe around the market is always a combo of inventive progression mixed with a drive for quality, and that's just what we want to be a part of in this growing city.
What do you least enjoy about retailing at NFM?
So I have a problem because I'm obsessed with Asian food. I'm a sucker for anything with rice or spices from the east. I have trouble picking what to eat while at work! I have my favs, but I'm often conflicted over the food options. #firstworldproblems #itcouldbeworse
Although you advertise a dozen bubble tea flavors, your neighbor here at the Market, Downtown Candle, offers more candle flavors. Are you jealous?
Nice try. Downtown Candle and I have worked out a deal where I send people to sniff the candles while they wait for their order of bubble tea. It's a perfect relationship! And while I'm not going to make a Leather Cowboy Bubble Tea, I am expanding my menu in the next few weeks to include some of the most asked-for flavors.
You’re here at the Market five days a week (Wednesdays through Sundays). How does Bubble Love occupy your off hours?
Wow — talk about new business growing pains! I have been making cups of bubble tea in my dreams almost every night for months now. When I'm not at the shop, I'm buying ingredients, working on marketing, coming up with giveaway ideas, studying how to incorporate customer feedback into our menu, making stop-motion homemade commercials and learning how to use QuickBooks. My husband is my hero as he has adjusted his home-time to do more with the kids. Family time is very important to us so we do our best to be present when we are all home.
What’s your all-time favorite question from a customer?
"Is this carbonated?" It's a legit question if you've never had it. I love introducing people to bubble tea because your first cup is one of those things you'll never forget.
If a delegation from the World Bubble Tea Council in Taiwan were to inspect your stand for authenticity, would you pass?
I hope so! My recipes are all derived from the best of what we experienced in southeastern China. It took a while to get them just right, but when you find that perfect tea/creamer/boba ratio, you know.
Outside of the Market, what’s your favorite Nashville locale for visitors?
I tell people to head to Broadway and check out BB King's. The music in there soothes the soul. We also love love love the Frist Art Museum. We are blown away every time we go.
Vino from Natchez Hills or a brew from The Picnic Tap ... or maybe something else entirely (hint, hint)?
I appreciate a good rosé, though at risk of tooting my own horn, I will never pass up a bubble tea. I'm that addicted.
Cats or dogs?
Both, and some chickens thrown in. Flurry is our Chinese mutt that we brought back with us, Idabell is our wild Germantown alley cat that we adopted and Helen and Hattie B give us fresh eggs each morning.