Bubbling Up: Star Cup Opens Downtown Eau Claire Bubble Tea Shop

Marie Anthony, photos by Andrea Paulseth

BIBI KNOWS BOBA. Two years after opening a bubble tea shop in Oakwood Mall, entrepreneur Bibi Krumenauer (not pictured) has expanded to downtown Eau Claire with fruit teas, milk teas, slushes, and smoothies.
BIBI KNOWS BOBA. Two years after opening a bubble tea shop in Oakwood Mall, entrepreneur Bibi Krumenauer (not pictured) has expanded to downtown Eau Claire with fruit teas, milk teas, slushes, and smoothies.

The atmosphere of Star Cup’s new Barstow Street location is bright, modern, and sleek but still very welcoming. There’s even a seating area with lush, rounded armchairs to cozy into and sip your boba (bubble) tea and maybe savor some egg bites. The vibrancy of Star Cup is infectious, but owner Bibi’s stunning smile overwhelmed all of it.

“I came to the United States from Vietnam 13 years ago to be closer to my grandmother who first came to the United States to support and help my family. But I did miss my bubble tea.” – Bibi Krumenauer, owner of Star Cup

Star Cup first sprouted as a bubble tea shop in the cafe court of Oakwood Mall in 2017, but the roots of boba tea go back to Taiwan in 1983. As with many yummy concoctions, boba tea was the result of a happy accident. A Taiwanese woman was fixing a cup of hot Royal Black tea and inadvertently added non-dairy creamer instead of milk. Tapioca pearls were then added to heighten the flavors and sensations. Over time, fruit purées became part of the mix.

Owner Bibi Krumenauer, a native of Vietnam, loves her boba tea, but no love for tea would keep her from her grandmother, who emigrated from Vietnam to the United States. “I came to the United States from Vietnam 13 years ago to be closer to my grandmother who first came to the United States to support and help my family,” Bibi shared. “But I did miss my bubble tea,” she softly admits. “If I wanted to enjoy bubble tea, I had to drive all the way to the Cities. That’s when I shared my vision with my husband to open a bubble tea shop in Eau Claire.”

With the help of her husband, Vince, Bibi has brought her boba dream to life in Eau Claire. Bibi is the cornerstone of the business. Without her, we would not have the opportunity to enjoy boba tea so readily, but Vince is a strong pillar who makes sure business communications/operations run smoothly. Both Bibi and Vince are excited about their new endeavor and about the grand opening of their new location at 316 N. Barstow St.

Before you scrunch your nose at the thought of tapioca pearls in your tea, know this: It is by far the most fun you’ll have drinking tea in your life. Right after you take in a sip of tea and let the richness sink into every crevice of your mouth, you get an added element of surprise when a pearl joins in the fun. It elevates the senses of touch, taste, and smell to provide a more enjoyable tea-drinking experience. Some Star Cup offerings also include what are termed “poppers” – juice-filled bubbles that burst on your tongue to release vibrant, fresh flavors.

A giggle sneaks out of the quiet Bibi, when she says, “Asians like to get a little crazy with their drinks. In Vietnam they’ll put a lot of toppings in their tea and different fruit geleés.” While Bibi is known to be adventurous with her flavor pairings, she and Vince are very sensitive to the fact that some visitors may be more reserved when it comes to their beverage of choice. “One thing that separates our shop from other bubble tea shops in the nation is that we give our customers the opportunity to be the crafters of their own drink,” Vince says. When visitors stop into Star Cup, they have options for a tea base (such as Royal Black), a milk option, and different pearls or popping boba. If a visitor is feeling overwhelmed, the staff at Star Cup is very accommodating and will happily recommend flavor pairings. While the Royal Black milk tea with pearls is the tried-and-true boba tea, other popular pairings include honeydew green milk tea with strawberry poppers and the passion fruit green milk tea with green apple poppers.

Bibi and Vince are dedicated to ensuring that Star Cup visitors have a pure, clean experience. That’s why they strive to keep things simple and fun. They use real fruit purée in their teas and offer alternative milk options such as almond or coconut milk (specifically for the milk teas or coffee drinks). Their matcha powder is sourced from Japan. Star Cup does not use any artificial flavorings in its matcha.

While the foundation of their shop is bubble tea, the Star Cup menu also offers smoothies and protein options and latte and espresso drinks. The Barstow location now offers egg bites and oatmeal, which Bibi and Vince plan to bring to the Oakwood Mall location in the near future. The pair also has plans to franchise their business in the coming years and invite anyone who’s interested in owning their own business to reach out to them via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Regardless of what the future holds for Bibi and Vince, their customers are of utmost importance. “It’s really important to us to maintain a positive atmosphere,” Vince shares. “We want to provide a pure product so our customers leave feeling even better than when they came.” Bibi and Vince want customers to learn new things, try new things, and to be adventurous: Create and enjoy!

Star Cup • 316 N. Barstow St. and 4800 Golf Road (Oakwood Mall), Eau Claire • starcup.co • @STARCUP17 on Facebook and Twitter, @star_cup17 on Instagram