Bubble tea has popped up in Del Mar Highlands Town Center with the opening of Happy Lemon. The new shop located in the lower plaza near the pop-jet fountain specializes in bubble tea, fresh fruit teas and smoothies.
A grand opening will be held on Dec. 20-21 with buy one, get one free deals and chances to win prizes like a Nintendo Switch and AirPods.
Bubble tea is a tea-based drink with the option to add milk to make it creamy and bubble-like “boba” pearls which are chewy tapioca balls. Happy Lemon is famous for its proprietary recipe of rock salt creama, also known as “salted cheese,” which creates a lightly whipped, cheesecake-flavored milkshake topping sitting on top of the freshly brewed tea.
Owner Jack Wang said the rock salted creama is what really makes them stand out and what draws in the most curious customers, “People always ask ‘What is this rock salt cream?’ People want to check it out,” Wang said.
Happy Lemon is a global bubble tea concept that started in China in 2006 and has branched into 100 different cities with over 500 shops across the world. Fairly recently has it gotten on the radar in America.
Wang’s management company opened the first Happy Lemon in San Diego on Convoy Street in July 2018.
“It unexpectedly took off, we were very surprised with the results,” said Wang who expanded to open his second location in Eastlake, Chula Vista this August.
His company office is located close by in Carmel Valley and he had always eyed the upscale Highlands plaza as a potential spot for bubble tea.
“Boba is something they have never done before in the center and it’s given us an opportunity to be in a new area” said Wang.
Wang said one of the reasons Happy Lemon is so popular is because of the quality of ingredients that they use. They stay away from fructose by brewing their own cane and brown sugar in house and customers can pick their sweetness level from light to regular or no sugar at all. Every topping is handmade and they fresh-press all of their fruit juices like the popular lemonade.
“People are going to taste the difference,” Wang said.
The shop offers a tea series with milk, a fresh juice series and the salted cheese series—customers can opt for combinations such as jasmine green tea with rock salt creama, freshly squeezed lemon green tea, a classic milk tea with taro balls or strawberry black tea with lychee jelly. Wang said people seem to be loving the mango matcha smoothie. They also serve bubble waffles as a snack.
Wang said he’s overall very happy with how the latest store turned out with its pops of cheerful yellow and the motto “Share fun and love. Take tea to heart” on one wall. They had a soft opening on Dec. 5 and Wang said the response over the last couple weeks has so far been positive.
“Right when school gets out we have a line out the door,” Wang said. “We had employees come from our other stores to help with the soft opening and they all said that the customers in Del Mar are so nice and polite. A lot of people now want to transfer to work in Del Mar.”
Learn more about Happy Lemon at happylemonsandiego.com