Go New Jersey!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Just remember. Bubble Tea = Asian America.

Jimmy Hwang was raised by a pair of entrepreneurial parents and studied enough economics at Rutgers University to know a business opportunity when he saw one.

So when he realized six years ago that his hometown did not have a place that served bubble tea -- the tapioca-spiked tea sensation that originated in the 1980s in Taiwan and slowly spread to San Francisco, New York's Chinatown and every corner of the world that claimed a large Asian population -- he filled the void.

"It was only natural to open one in Edison," said Hwang, the owner of Fusion-ti on Old Post Road, one of at least a dozen cafes around New Jersey that now serve bubble tea. "The number of Asians living in town was just blowing up. The demand was definitely there."

After all, just like bubble tea, Asian-Americans are arriving here in force. According to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing ethnicity in New Jersey.

The Census puts the state's Asian-American population at 643,855 as of July 1, 2007, a 32 percent increase over what it was in 2000. Every county in the state has seen a double-digit increase in its Asian-American population during that time, ranging from Essex County's 10 percent bump to the 113 percent rise in Warren County.