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Taiwanese Boba Brand Tiger Sugar Pounces into Harvard Square

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Taiwanese bubble tea brand Tiger Sugar has officially pounced its way into the Abbot building in Harvard Square.

The establishment welcomed customers during its soft opening on Nov. 11 and held its official grand opening the next day.

Tiger Sugar attempts to tell a “unique story” with its drinks, each infused with hand-pour syrups, or “tiger stripes,” according to the company’s website. Featured tiger-themed drinks include “Tiger Meets Mochi,” “Tiger Meets Coffee,” and “Tiger Meets Pudding.”

Since founder Ming Tsung Yang opened the original Tiger Sugar shop back in 2017 in Taichung, Taiwan, the brand has been crafting its drinks with syrups and tapioca pearls prepared in an eight-hour cooking process.

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Alvin Lu, the owner of all three shops, wrote in an email that he signed the lease for the Cambridge Tiger Sugar location almost two years ago but had to delay the official opening due to the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing costs, and growing competition in the Square.

“We faced many challenges opening a bubble tea shop in Cambridge,” Lu wrote.

Despite these challenges, Lu noted that he chose the location for the new shop because of the number of tourists and the amount of foot traffic near the University.

Lu attributed roughly 75 percent of the shop’s sales so far to college students and the remaining 25 percent to tourists.

Harvard Square has been a magnet for incoming business recently, having welcomed Starbucks, Le Macaron, and the Central Rock Gym, among others. Tiger Sugar’s launch also comes after Gong Cha, a boba tea shop on Church St., opened in the Square in September.

The new location in Harvard Square will be joining its sister stores in Allston and Boston, officially marking the third Tiger Sugar shop to join the Greater Boston area.

Lu added that the grand opening of Tiger Sugar in Harvard Square “wasn’t as good as expected,” compared to grand openings at other Tiger Sugar locations.

“Our prominent supporters are college students, but we noticed fewer international students this year,” Lu wrote.

Krystal Thorp, an employee at Lovepop across the street, said she was “excited” to see a new Tiger Sugar location opening in Cambridge.

Thorp, who lives near the Tiger Sugar location in Allston, said the shop in that Boston neighborhood is “a lot smaller.”

“I’m excited that they have a big storefront here [in Cambridge],” Thorp said of Tiger Sugar. “It's worth it — it's really, really good.”

—Staff writer Kate Delval Gonzalez can be reached at kate.delvalgonzalez@thecrimson.com.

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