Episode 110

Pauline Ang  ·  In Pursuit of Flavor and Convenience

“It's just ironing out the steps and writing down all the steps that it takes to get there, to achieve that goal.”

Pauline Ang is the founder and CT(ea)O of Twrl. As a milk tea (boba/bubble tea) enthusiast since her first sips in UC Berkeley, she quickly realized not all milk teas were created equal — most were loaded with sugar, used low-quality ingredients, and some were even made from powder! After 15+ years in branding and food & beverage packaging design, Pauline decided it was time to create a product that she felt truly passionate about. The result is a great-tasting, plant-based milk tea, using the best and cleanest ingredients possible, without having to compromise on flavor.


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Podcast Transcript

Pauline Ang

[00:00:00] Maggie Chui: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Pauline Ang. Pauline is the founder and CT(ea)O of Twrl as a milk tea enthusiast. Since her first steps in UC Berkeley, she quickly realized not all multis were created equal. Most were loaded with sugar.

Use low-quality ingredients and some were even made from powder after 15 plus years in branding and food and beverage packaging design Pauline decided it was time to create a product that she felt truly passionate about. The result is a great-tasting plant-based milk tea using the best and cleanest ingredients possible without having to compromise on flavor. Pauline, welcome to the show. 

[00:00:48] Pauline Ang: Thank you so much excited to be here, 

[00:00:51] Maggie Chui: Excited to have you on. So let’s get right into it. Where did you grow up and what was your upbringing like? 

[00:00:58] Pauline Ang: So I actually grew up in Hong Kong. But I don’t have that much memory of it. My parents were both, working really hard in Hong Kong, but then because they really wanted, a better opportunity for me, they decided to move us to the United States when I was about five years old.

I don’t remember much except going to kindergarten there, but I did go back frequently. Definitely got a lot of the food and the drinks and the culture from Hong Kong. But I really actually grew up in Hawaii, which is where I spent most of my years until I graduated from high school. 

[00:01:29] Maggie Chui: Oh, wow. That’s amazing. My family is also from Hong Kong and just knowing the business that you’re in milk tea, there are just so many different milk tea places in Hong Kong. I always loved going back there to taste the different milk teas. Before we get into your business I do want to talk a little bit about your upbringing and how you were raised because you building a business, you have to have a very entrepreneurial spirit, a very entrepreneurial mindset. And I’m very curious to know, have you always had a very entrepreneurial spirit and if not, how did you develop it?

[00:02:03] Pauline Ang: It’s pretty funny because I grew up with a single mom because my dad had to travel back to Hong Kong to work. So for most of the year, except for summer vacation and holidays, my parents or, sorry, my mom was the one that raised me in Hawaii. And so she was busy working and I spent a lot of time by myself, honestly.

I was an only child, so I had to spend that time figuring out what to do. And I really enjoyed doing little projects for myself. I would create little recipe cards. I would make business cards. I was one of those kids who went to any store. It wouldn’t be like a stationery store, like a furniture store, wherever my parents went.

I want to just grab their business card and stationery for no reason. I think back then, I didn’t really know why I just gravitated towards that kind of stuff. And at home, I would try to create my own and try to quote-unquote, sell it to my parents and my grandparents, you know, they were the only ones around to buy it. I will do these little stamping kits, I would package them in little baggies for them, for them to purchase. And I think maybe they got like a few dollars out of it, but it was just something for me to do that sounds really interesting to me. And I would just. I would love to cut ads out of magazines.

I just found them like, wow, if I could only do something like this when I grew up, but I never thought that design would actually be like a job. I always thought, oh, it was just something people do for fun. And I didn’t know, you could actually do this for work. So that’s how I started. I always had like little ideas of maybe I would start a little business selling these things, little booths, but, I think it was just something to pass the time when I was little when I was in college I did like really want to do my own thing, but just also didn’t really realize that you could, create, design and sell it. So I would just design little things and I would do brochures and posters for, whatever club I was in. And I was always like the designer in whatever group.

And that’s how I started that journey, but I actually didn’t work for a design agency right out of college. I went with the path that most people went and worked at a software startup. So it wasn’t until after that, that I discovered what my passion is. 

[00:04:17] Maggie Chui: Oh, wow. That’s amazing.

When I was growing up as well, I love stationery as well. I don’t know why. I just love stationery. It’s very inspiring to hear, your background and your story about, how you were raised and how you were growing up. And, I would love to know as you were relocating to Hawaii from Hong Kong, did you ever feel like you had to go through finding your Asian identity again?

Because I know it must be very hard. You were still very young. Maybe there were just some things that you remember, maybe there are some things that you didn’t remember, but can you talk a little bit about, like what you remember out of your experience relocating to Hawaii and what that kind of felt like for you?

[00:04:59] Pauline Ang: Yeah. To be honest, Hawaii is, at least where I grew up was very Asian. Like it was mostly Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. There were a few Caucasians around in my schools, but I would say the majority was Asian. But it was different. It was different. I think Hawaii has its own vibe and people are just it’s like a more relaxed kind of Asian there, I would say.

Whereas people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or China, like very loud and less chill. Everyone’s really relaxed and chill about things and super friendly. So I felt like. The bridge, wasn’t that huge for me to move from Hong Kong to Hawaii. And because I was still young, I think I was just very adaptable to new things.

But I did feel the difference actually when I went back to Hong Kong to visit over the summer when I visited my dad who was still working there I definitely felt a little bit out of my own culture because I had been used to being, the Asian-American league versus, more Asian.

So I did feel, a little sense of wanting to learn, the language more to be able to order food at restaurants, to be able to get to at least to that level, and to talk to my relatives in Chinese. When I was in high school and college, I did take Mandarin, even though I speak Cantonese, but I did take Mandarin just so I could re-learn to read and write the language. So I wanted to feel that connection back to my roots. 

[00:06:17] Maggie Chui: Oh, I love that so much. I love that you were trying to learn more about your cultural heritage because I feel like, a lot of the time as Asians, we tend to sway away from that, and as we grow older we lose the sense of, oh, is there still a reason for me to learn my language if I didn’t learn that at a young age, but I love that you went back and said I really wanted to connect with my relatives, learn the language, learn how to speak it. Because personally, I’ve always been very proud to have been bilingual and to be able to speak multiple languages. I think it’s a very useful skill to have. So I know you’re a designer for multiple companies and this was before you had started your own company.

And I’m very curious to know what was that transition process like? And no, before we get into that, talk about how you decided to make that jump from your nine to five corporate jobs to becoming an entrepreneur full-time. 

[00:07:15] Pauline Ang: Yeah, no, I reflect back on my career a lot and just think about it. All the things I did before starting Twrl led up to this moment because I was like I worked for a software company and then I worked for a design agency for many years, but how did I end up doing Twrl? First of all, Twrl is just based out it’s almost or is a passion project.

It’s just, I’m like a huge consumer of bubble milk tea in general. I’ve been drinking it for as long as I can. Even when I went back to Hong Kong, when I was little, my mom would always give me some, because that’s just what’s available at the restaurant. So I grew up drinking, like the hot version of it, the Nai Cha, but not really like the Boba version until probably the end of high school, into college.

I would love to drink this stuff. You want to drink it every day, but you just can’t because it’s just too sweet, too much sugar, a lot of dairies, and just not something that I could drink every day, even though I craved it so much and I would go everywhere, like searching for like something that was like lower calorie and lower sugar.

And I just couldn’t find it. You could request lower sugar at the boba shop, but then it doesn’t taste as good. So you’re like, then I don’t want to drink it at all because it’s not that good and it’s a perfect calorie. So what can  I really want to just create something on my own and just make something in my kitchen for myself.

Going back to how I ended up doing Twrl. I was working at a software company out of college and it was one of those amazing places where I think everybody who worked there is now doing something incredible. Like I just like everybody there. And it was just one of those places where it was mostly like Berkeley graduates.

That’s where I graduated from. And we just were all 20 something like eager year learn. And I was doing marketing communications. At that time I was doing their website. I was doing brochures. I was just writing copy, but I really gravitated towards the designer of the website.

And I kept asking him like, can you teach me how to, design this website and how to design a brochure? Like I had no idea how to use any of these graphic design programs. Then I was just using word docs and Excel spreadsheets. He was really my mentor there. And I really credit him.

 My coworker, therefore, introduced me to graphic design. He was super talented. And ultimately I just kept asking, like, how do I have your job? I just really wanted his job and not mine. And I finally realized that, in order to do what he did, I would have to go back to art school.

So that’s what I ended up doing. I went to art school. Worked as hard as I could and finished it in two and a half years. Because I was already out of school and I didn’t want to continue. I didn’t want to spend another four years in school. So I got my master’s in design and art.

It’s an MFA and from then on, I just had to really start over, working at a design agency. So I must’ve worked at three design agencies over the 15 years and worked on everything from. Mostly actually food and beverage packaging. That was what I gravitated towards when I was in art school.

I loved just the 3d form of things. Like some graphic designers go into look printing brochures, websites. I was just really into the 3d form and how I could see my product on the shelf. though it’s just something I just really gravitated towards. It’s odd. Like when you find your calling, you don’t really know why, but you just know, you want to see, you want to go in that direction.

We work for Anheuser-Busch. He was like Sprint, Campbell’s, Starbucks, like many big brands. And throughout that whole process, while it was really fun, seeing your design on the shelf, you just wonder, like, how do I feel about these products? And is it something that I personally am passionate about, and do I want to buy this?

And a lot of the times it wasn’t what I would personally buy, but I’m doing the design for it. So I kept thinking to myself, one day I’m going to design my own product, create my own products, something that I personally believe in and that I would want to purchase. And that I would feel good about buying.

And so that’s the path that led to Twrl. It was. A difficult path because I’m in between your head kids. And I think after having kids, you’ve really set your priority straight. Like they, it just throws this wrench into your life. And so I decided that finally, I would take this step.

Finally creating my own product and doing something that I was truly passionate about because now my time is very limited because I can’t give all my time to work. Part of my time is devoted to the family. So how can I make the most of it and be, and make the most impact out of what I’m doing.

And so that’s how it, Twrl was born.

[00:11:37] Maggie Chui: Wow. That’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that. It’s really inspiring. Just learning about why you had this inspiration for Twrl from the packaging and design perspective and also from the milk tea perspective, it all makes so much sense. And, just like looking at the packaging and design for. For Twrl online. I personally, it is really compelling and it’s really eye opening and eye touching. I love the colors and it makes me want to find out more about it and try it. So just like an amazing job on the design for that.

I love it so much. And so I do want to know a little bit more about Twrl and just what made you want to, make sure that these consumers are getting notes here that are healthy for them. Because I know that Twrl milk tea is plant-based and it’s also from like Locarno as well.

And just like trying so many different kinds of milk here. There are just so many different milk tea places now, and shops that are opening up. Like you mentioned, they’re not all created equal. There are some that, tastes very sweet. And when it’s used to me, I don’t even want to drink it.

And at the same time, When I reduced the sugar, it doesn’t really taste good. Like you mentioned. And then also there are some that are very powdery and you can actually taste the powder in there. And that automatically throws me off and turns me off and I just don’t even want to drink it anymore.

Yeah. I want to know how you were able to find farmers and make sure that you were sourcing organic and making sure that your consumers were consuming healthy drinks for. And I love to know about e your process behind that as well. 

[00:13:18] Pauline Ang: That’s what I feel for my product already, but I really set out to make it taste as best as possible with as little sugar possible and with the least calories as possible because, number one, my first criteria was I want to be able to drink this every day and I actually do.

It was around 1:30 PM. That’s like my tralo clock time. It’s you’re after lunch, you feel a little like Lowell from your workday and you like need to pick me up and that’s my time to drink it. And so I really do drink it every day. And I get antsy if I don’t. And I didn’t want it to be like crazy caffeine levels either because it’s the app. Of course I’ve actually drank it in the morning as well, but I really, so that is the number one criteria. And because I think during COVID, I actually decided to become vegetarian.

So I just basically stopped. I wasn’t eating that much meat, to begin with, but turning vegetarian, like now leaning towards the vegan. There are still like eggs and, ice cream that is very hard to give up. But for the most part, I haven’t drank dairy milk for like over 10 years. Trying to find a good dairy alternative that is also not going to fill up the calories. And I know milk is very popular right now, but I just felt like it just added so many more carbs to the drink. So I was trying to find another alternative to that. What could taste good so when I first started, I was like I can just buy some wholesale tea cheaply and brew this tea, add some milk to it, add a sweetener. And then boom. And so my first quest was trying to find the right milk and I must’ve tried over 20 brands. there are just like anything from hemp milk, macadamia, nut cashew, almond pistachio like you name it like there is a milk Florida.

So I was actually at the fancy food show, which is like the big, like food and beverage trade show that a lot of buyers go-to for, to stock their supermarkets or further shops. So it’s like a trade show, but also as a packaging designer, I used to go there all the time, just for design inspiration.

So I decided to go to this event. It was right before COVID and I found this pea milk that I was just like, okay, I’m going to give this a try. I’ve never heard of QI milk. I think I might’ve but I’ve never tried it. So I tried it and I was like, wow, this is almost indistinguishable from, dairy milk.

Like maybe a slight, not as thick, but it was just so mild tasting that I felt like it could just pair with anything. So I got some samples. I’d tried it at home. And I was like, okay, I’m going to put this on the side burner. Cause nobody knows about key milk. Maybe I should still try oat milk. But I think in the back of my mind, I knew that was it.

And that’s the one I’m still using today. So it was just luck. I feel almost like a moment where I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to find that one milk that is perfect for my drink. And I actually just drink this milk normally too, with my coffee. So I’m still a coffee drinker and a teacher.

And so after I found that I was brewing tea, like almost every day, just to test the different blends and different brands of wholesale milk or a wholesale tea that I could get. And this was right before COVID hit. We bring so much tea that I took up the entire fridge and my house and my family was not happy about it.

And I was like, okay, I need to buy a second fridge because this is just, like just giant gallons of tea everywhere. And no one’s drinking it, but me and like my husband and I were just way too caffeinated because we kept drinking so much tea. So luckily I did get that second fridge and it was, I think the day after that San Francisco was on lockdown.

So it’s and everyone was rushing to buy, food from Costco and stuck up their fridge. So it actually happened at a really good time that I decided to buy this fridge for the tea and not for COVID, but ended up, it’s like one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. So then I was working with a food scientist at that time to try to, to do our trials and to make a commercial formula because your kitchen formula does not really translate to the commercial version.

there are just, you need to be very exact, like exact percentages, exact weight measurements, everything needs to be extremely exact. And to just add a little bit of something to. Bind all the elements together. So  what they don’t tell you about a lot of drinks that are shelf-stable, if that you need to, or it needs to go through this process called and that actually kills all the bacteria in your product so that it can be shelf-stable and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

So a big goal of mine was to make sure it was shelf-stable. I’ve just heard stories about people trying to sell something through the cold chain. You have to refrigerate it all the way through. And it was just very expensive. So it was trying to formulate something that would taste good, but also be shelf-stable.

But little did I know that when you make something shelf-stable, it actually literally you literally cook the product. I think it’s 257 degrees that you have to cook it in. So because of that process, a lot of the flavor gets cooked out. And so being like a novice, product. Person, I just didn’t or just creating a product for the first time.

I just didn’t know all these details. The first back twist, totally awful. Like I cannot taste the tea at all. So we did a second. So the food scientist was telling me everybody uses flavorings. So if you look at the back of cans of coffee or even some tea, you would see that one of the ingredients is.

Natural flavor green. So it makes us sound natural, but it’s really just flavor in a bottle. So even though I tried using natural flavoring in our original batch of tea, it just tasted really fake. Like I was like, I cannot drink this. It was just like the smell. Wasn’t right. It wasn’t. Just that tea flavor wasn’t there.

So it was just a big, huge letdown. And it was like, in the middle of lockdowns summer, it was very depressing at that time. Getting the samples from the manufacturer and not being able to celebrate that moment. And I just didn’t even want to start my social media account, for the business, not for myself at that time.

Cause I was so excited to tell everyone that, Hey, I got these samples, but it was so disappointing. Crawled back into the drawing board again, because it just wasn’t right. And I couldn’t figure out what to do, because I was like I’m using organic tea. Is there something better than this that I’m using?

So I luckily found that. Forum called startup CPG. And they’re like pretty big now actually. And I just asked around like this, Does anyone have any contacts that I could talk to, like another food scientist who could give me some advice. And luckily I did get connected to someone. Pointed me to a T I guess T and Porter.

And they actually they’re actually owners of in the business in China. So they live in China part-time and also live in the United States. So they had the connections both ways. And they were just telling me an incredible story about their farmers. It’s small things, small family, multi-generational farmers, they live and grow.

On the land and because of that, they want the best because it’s like, they’re their kids even work on the field. And it’s in this amazing environment where it’s like a natural hillside where it’s like a biodiverse environment where there are like birds and like natural predators there.

But the natural predators actually help the tea. Basically, you have insects on the plants. It’s inevitable, but the predators come and they eat the insects. And actually, it’s actually grown in a place where there are other plants as well because having it grow with other plants makes the plants compete against other plants.

So they produce more flavor and more antioxidants. And so that’s when you get you don’t have to use pesticides, so it actually produces a way better flavor than your commercial organic farm, where you do use like maybe organic fertilizer or pesticides and can still claim Oregon. So the family farms are so small that they don’t actually, they can’t get the organic certification. It’s very expensive for them, like tens of thousands of dollars, but the practices that they use are beyond organic. So it’s actually a much more flavorful tea that they produce. And so I’ve stuck with this farm. And their key is just amazing. I found actually a similar farm in Japan, which produces our hygiene team.

So in Japan, actually, it’s very different. Everything is fair trade there. I think the government regulates that so their quality of life is better for the farmers there as well. And they use the same methods of farming, there’s a Japanese term for that. I can’t remember right now, but it’s also growing your tea or growing crops in a biodiverse environment. So it really helps the flavor of the tea that way. Yeah, sorry. I have a lot to say about the team,

something about it. Yeah. It’s something I’m really passionate about and so because of this super amazing high-quality tea that we’re getting, we don’t have to use flavoring, and because it’s so good. It actually can pass through that retort process and not lose flavor. So that is just something that you cannot get with just like a wholesale bag of tea that you would get like on Amazon or something.

It’s like a whole leaf it’s picked at the right time. It’s really like when. there are like first pick and second pick. The first pick is obviously the most flavorful, but also when you get like the teabag versions of tea, it’s oftentimes very crushed up already. So a lot of the flavor gets lost that way. So you really do need to brew with a whole week to get the full flavor. 

[00:22:51] Maggie Chui: I see. Wow. I just wanted to say I love how honest and transparent do you are, I’m, it’s amazing to know that pass through that retort process and you didn’t have to go through it, but just knowing that you did come across it, but you had to have some setbacks.

And it’s okay to have some setbacks, and, I just love how transparent you are, because it just shows that you are able and willing to find another alternative because you want it to be transparent with your consumers because you wanted to perfect your product to your consumers and make sure that they were getting the best drink possible.

And you didn’t settle for the retail process. You didn’t settle at that stage and be like, Hey, maybe this is the only way because everyone else is doing it because probably is the easiest way. And that’s why everyone does it. And that’s probably. Just the simpler way instead of finding an actual producer or farm that will make work Ganek milk.

And so I just wanted to commend you for just being so transparent and, as an entrepreneur, we’re always going to face setbacks like that. We’re always going to find speed bumps, but we just have to keep going and we have to find an alternative if we choose to and just move on and just keep going.

Yeah, and I feel like consumers nowadays. So we’re aware of, ensuring that the farms where their coffee or their tea is a source or implementing organic sustainable practices. For example, like gen Z and millennials, they’re always like, oh, where’s my coffee coming from. Or like where you are coming from, as opposed to putting forward, just consuming it without really thinking about, what are the practices of that form or, how is my tea being sourced?

So I love that. Paying attention to that because nowadays, people are so aware of that and people want to learn more about the food and the drinks that they’re consuming.

[00:24:38] Pauline Ang: Yeah, for sure. And I still feel like, sometimes you would go to a Boba shop and they do tell you this is maybe some Boba shops, not everyone. So that was a big deal of mine too. What kind of tea? My drinking from these places? Is it even tea? Cause I don’t see any teabags and sometimes you literally see them scoop the powder in the cup, so you’re like, okay, that’s not tea?. Yeah. So I just really wanted a true tea flavor. It’s not even just about like low calorie and like better for you.

It’s about feeling good about where it’s sourced, as you said, and you know that you are consuming something that is, sustainably sourced and people thought about, where it came from and how it was produced. Yeah, I think finding. All those things together. Another reason why I use tea milk is because it’s actually one of the most sustainable plant-based milk.

So if you compare it to almond milk, it uses, I think 85%, less water than almond milk, and also less fertilizer than a soy milk or oatmeal. Actually, the tea plant can absorb the nitrogen from the air and turn it into food a lot better or more efficiently than the other plants. So in that sense, tea is also the most sustainable milk that you could put into your drink.

And that’s part of the reason why I chose tea milk as well, not just for the flavor, mostly for the flavor. 

[00:25:58] Maggie Chui: Amazing. So there are just so many different small business owners in the milk tea industry. And even in the CPG industry for packaged drinks, there are a lot more like ready-to-drink coffee, or even like CELTA rounds. And I was like so many different seltzer brands now. Personally in Asian Hustle Network, I do see a lot of these brands coming up. I think there are a lot of them actually came from the pandemic too, because maybe like Boba shops, a lot of people can’t actually go out to the Boba shops anymore.

So they had to create their own DIY or create their own drink in like coffee or seltzer. And so just like looking at your design of packaging, it’s so unique and it’s so like colorful and yeah. How do you make sure that you set yourself apart from the other drinks, and in terms of like design and packaging?

Cause I personally like looking at yours, it’s very appealing to the eyes. So how do you make sure that you set yourself apart in terms of the packaging and the design and also just like in the taste as well? 

[00:26:55] Pauline Ang: Yeah. Back to the chase, we just really want to shoot for, a guilt-free, great-tasting drink because for me, I know that there are Asian imported milk tea brands in a can, but I really haven’t found any that are from the US I think maybe some really small niche ones.

But other than that I feel like that is our big differentiator, where, Asian-American, female-owned. I want to set an example to like others, as aspiring female entrepreneurs that yes, you can do this. You don’t have to be like a huge company. You can create your own brand too.

I think having a lot of experience, like seeing products on shelves. I think it’s just like the simpler, the better. If it’s just too crowded, even now when I look at the can, I’m like, what improvements can I make to it? I’m always thinking about like, how can I reword it a little bit better, but just making it clear what the product is, and just being able to grab someone’s attention right away off the shelf because people are scanning like a shelf full of 50 products. They don’t really have time to read the back of your label and everything. So what can you design that really stands out?

And hopefully, we can have more flavors in the future and have a bigger brand block, but for now our three flavors, I felt the design that I came up with could be, might be more eye-catching, or hopefully, it is more eye catching. And also just differentiated from all the seltzer brands. I know. there are just so like the kombucha space and yeah. Seltzer sparkling waters. there are just so many waters. 

 So I think for us, it’s really. Hopefully about that flavor. And also because one of my favorite tea is Hōjicha, and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve actually seen a Hōjicha drink out there except at a cafe. So that was like a last-minute call. I was actually going to do a different flavor to launch with my third flavor, but because I’m just like a huge fan of Hōjicha.

I said, you know what, I’m just going to pivot and do this because I love it. I don’t care if nobody else likes it. I think it tastes the best. I love all three flavors. Like I rotate between all three. But in the afternoon I usually go for Hōjicha because it is less caffeine.

It’s like a Japanese tea that is roasted green tea. It roasts out the bitterness of green tea and also roasts out some of the caffeine, but still retaining all the health benefits of green tea. So I feel like it’s the new green tea that everybody should be drinking. It just has this Netty, flavorful sweet aroma that is so unique, and finding these unique flavors is something that I want to continue to innovate on. And so differentiating in that respect as well. And I hope that, if people do end up reading the label, they can really see that we truly try to check all those boxes, organic fair-trade tea.

It’s non-GMO it’s, let’s see. Less sugar allergen-free. So we actually had a little neighborhood interaction. A few weeks ago and there was this one girl who came to us and her treat, I think she’s a teenager. So her treat was decaf coffee. That’s all she could have because she was allergic to so many things.

And she was so happy that she could actually drink Twrl because it didn’t have any of those allergens that she normally had to look out for. And she literally drank four cans. And I was like, oh, I think you need to stop now.

Yeah, she was just so happy she found it because it really doesn’t have any of the common allergens. And it’s also, I think what else? Oh, one, one other thing is that the nitrile infusion is something that I really try to work hard on I’m sure you’ve heard of like a nature-infused coffee, cold brew, and it’s basically adding nitrogen, like all cans of any drink actually have nitrogen in them because it’s what makes the can hard and not crushed during transportation or like in your bag. But you can actually infuse nitrogen into your tea to make it smoother and creamier. And have that effect of the smoothness without adding additional fats or creamers.

So that’s another big differentiator. And why everyone’s doing nitro infusion, because it really does add that next level to it. If you give the can a little shake and you pour it out, you can see a little bit of foam and it really does add to that mouth feel of the drink. So that’s another thing that we are trying to continually improve on.

[00:31:00] Maggie Chui: Oh, that’s amazing. I love just how innovative you are and making sure that you stand out from all the other drinks that are available in the market and constantly improving as well. So we know that the Boba milk tea or the bubble milk tea industry has really blown up in the last couple of years.

there are just so many people, like we mentioned, opening up Boba shops or creating their own DIY. There are now like card games of both characters. There is a Boba emoji on the iPhone now. So it definitely feels like a lot more people, even outside of the Asian community are learning about Boba and loving it. What do you see as the future of milk tea in general, or just as a CPG product and how do you see Twrl growing as well? 

[00:31:51] Pauline Ang: To me, I always saw milk tea as like that coffee latte alternative. It’s essentially a tea latte. It is what it is. it’s huge. And yes, our drink does not have Boba in it, but we are developing a Boba product, I think probably next year. And I realize it’s not in there, but I know that for me, I truly wanted the Boba milk tea for the milk tea itself. And I always like never finished my Boba because I was like I really shouldn’t have all this anyway.

 But I think it’s just like the coffee alternative because sometimes you really want that little pick me up, but you don’t want like that jittery-ness coffee, and it dries you out. It just doesn’t feel as good for some reason. And when you drink tea, instead, it gives you a little bit more of a calmness right in the afternoon.

[00:32:41] Maggie Chui: You don’t drink coffee normally do you get that jittery feeling. Cause I noticed that when I don’t drink coffee for a long time, I started getting jitters?

[00:32:50] Pauline Ang: Yeah, exactly. And it’s because Tea has the L-theanine in it and it actually makes you feel less stressed. That’s what the claims are. And a lot of adapted and drinks have this in there. So it actually makes you less stressed. It aids with digestion. So tea is actually naturally really good for you already. And having that and on top of. Having so many different flavors.

I think in the Boba industry, I think in the cafe industry, it’s all about, that cool flavor that you can get based on whatever strawberry to macha, just so many different cool flavors and like how it looks in your cup. But for me, it’s more about, the true, great tastes of that classic milk tea, the black milk tea that you would get when you’re like, okay, I don’t know what to get, I’m just going to go through the classic. So that’s what we’re really trying to do. To make the best version of those classics. So I did a lot of research trying to decide what flavors to put out and obviously the black tea, everybody knows that one. I think Jasmine is a close second, and Hojicha just because I personally love this so much.

So that’s how I decided to come up with those flavors and, respond to this craziness of Boba. I know a lot of people ask are you going to put Boba in the can, but I’ve tried those boba in the can does not taste good. I don’t think I’m going to try and do that because it’s just not going to work.

That’s just the science of the tapioca, it’s just not going to stay in there and be chewy or in a definite amount of time. I have another plan to solve this problem, which we’ll probably announce next year. But in the meantime, I think that’s what I’m trying to do. Stick to the classic and try to make the best version of it in the best way.

[00:34:29] Maggie Chui: That’s awesome. Anytime I leave Boba overnight, it’s like never good anymore. So right here, what other alternative do you have for, and all of the goals that you have for the next couple of years. But I do want to ask you another question. Not related to the business, but in terms of just being an entrepreneur. You leaving your corporate job or the agency to become an entrepreneur full time. I’m sure there is just so much that you need to do. And just like such a heavy burden. And it’s a lot of hard work, being an entrepreneur. How do you manage your mental health and how do you make sure that you’re promoting good mental health?

Like Bryan and I are running Asian Hustle Network. We quit our full-time jobs to run this community, and as any other entrepreneur would know it’s not easy. And I think a lot of entrepreneurs need to be commended for all of the hard work that they’re doing, leaving their nine to five to actually work 24 hours instead. I’m always on the path. So how do you manage your mental health and how are you making sure that you’re promoting good practices in your daily life?

[00:35:34] Pauline Ang: Yeah. I felt like my mental health was not the best, especially just trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. Cause I think after having two kids, it was like what’s after that, do I go back to my own job and just work for somebody and be paid, but unsatisfied or should I do something I’m really passionate about? So I keep telling my family that I have literally never worked this hard in my life because I’m constantly working and it never stops, but I am really enjoying every single moment of it. So it’s fulfilling your passion, but it’s also work at the same time, which I think is like the best that you could ever ask for. And it’s like having a third baby. It’s just always something you need to think about, but I really do enjoy every aspect of it and I find it just, so it’s such a huge learning experience.

So I thought, oh, I designed the can, now I know everything about packaging, but it was like just like 1% of everything I needed to know to start this business. And I think during the pandemic, it was something that just kept me busy. I think a lot of people’s mental health was going down at that point because you’re stuck at home.

You can’t really connect, but I had this full project that I was working on. And it just was something that I could share with people and connect with people about. I’m naturally introverted. I don’t really love networking in-person events. Although now I feel like I’m getting much better at it, but because of the pandemic, you could just zoom, call somebody and it’d be like, totally fine.

 I was doing this as much as possible because just to learn about how to get into, to CPQ industry and just learning from mentors talking to people, so actually became a lot more extroverted because of this whole experience. And another thing that really kept me grounded was that like I had an exercise, like a Peloton that was just collecting dust for many, I think for maybe a year and a half. And because of the pandemic, I can’t really go out. And, I’m just getting fat here, sitting at home. So I just decided like one day to get on it. And now it’s become this strange obsession with my friends and we just do it every morning together. And it’s just something that like, you feel good like right in the beginning of the morning, I’ve become a morning person.

I never was. I used to stay up really late at night working now. I’m like, okay, I need to sleep early so I can get up. You might work out. It’s just like a totally different lifestyle that has changed because we were forced to do it. Or I felt like I had no other option. And I really feel like taking that time in the morning before everybody gets up, before you have to deal with, the day to just have that one hour to yourself that really just has kept me level-headed and grounded and something that you can feel good about achieving. At least you check this off your list this morning. And through that, I feel like it made me become more clearheaded in the morning and just feeling like I can tackle the day. So I think just having that community like it was virtual, it’s still fine because you’re still doing this together, and every night we decide what class to take. It’s just something, off the side that I look forward to doing. And I think just being able to tell friends and family about, what I’m doing is also super gratifying as well. 

[00:38:40] Maggie Chui: If I had a milk tea, waiting for me every morning, I would also become a morning person. I love that, you are going outside. Because I’m personally introverted as well. And then since becoming an entrepreneur, forces you to go outside of the box and then become more extroverted. I personally do feel like I’m still introverted, but it’s more of like introvert-extrovert now, because it pushes you to talk to more people have more conversations with people, and just cultivate those relationships. So Pauline, do you have any advice for an aspiring entrepreneur in our community? And if you do, what would that one advice. 

[00:39:19] Pauline Ang: I would say, really go with your passion and try to achieve it. I know it seems overwhelming to get to that, that top-level, but it’s just, ironing out the steps and, writing down all the steps that it takes to get there, to achieve that goal.

And to make sure you stick to, what you truly believe in and what you truly care about. And if it’s your passion, it’s something that won’t go away and then you’ll work your hardest to get there. But when you get sidetracked with like smaller projects or like things you’re like iffy about, you do it, but you don’t feel like you’re achieving what you want. So I think sticking to your passion and really, going for that is my best advice. 

[00:39:58] Maggie Chui: That’s really great advice. And for all of our listeners how can they find out more about yourself and Twrlmilk tea? 

[00:40:06] Pauline Ang: We have a website it’s: twrlmilktea.com. That’s the best way to find us. We’re also on Instagram @twrlmilk tea so please follow us. And yeah, we look forward to connecting with our community as well.

[00:40:17] Maggie Chui: Amazing. Thank you so much, Pauline. I will leave all of that in the show notes of this episode. It was amazing having you on our podcast today. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. 

[00:40:28] Pauline Ang: Thank you so much. It’s great talking to you.