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Cal Poly alum turns his pandemic hobby into a popular business

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Posted at 6:41 PM, May 19, 2023

A former Cal Poly student has turned his at-home pandemic quarantine project into a popular business.

“This whole thing was just a hobby and it’s funny — I kept telling my parents every week, 'It’s just a hobby, it's just a hobby,'” said Justin Chan, owner of Sequel Tea.

Chan studied medicine at Cal Poly and had plans for grad school, but ended up turning his passion for making boba tea into a business.

It all started out in his dorm room.

“We made a lot of boba for campus ministries and clubs,” Chan said.

He felt like his cold brew method was original and wanted to take it to the next level.

“For cold brew tea, we do a hybrid hot and cold infusion at a specific temperature. We steep the tea to disinfect it and overnight we put it at a specific temperature for 12 to 24 hours,” Chan explained.

He says the name of the business, Sequel Tea, has a special meaning.

“To be able to take what has been done before and create a whole new sequel [like] we would see for movies. I think this is the next new chapter of what I think tea has the capacity for,” Chan said.

Cal Poly freshman Ryan Xu, who visited Sequel Tea's popup at Cal Poly on Friday, said the boba they make reminds him of home.

“I’m back from the Bay [Area] where they have boba stores everywhere and coming to San Luis Obispo, I didn’t want to miss out on boba,” Xu said.

For Kristen Yee, general manager of Sequel Tea, it is about more than just tea.

“To be able to represent the Asian population, even if we’re not serving food, it still represents something else really important to a lot of Asian cultures and Asian Americans,” Yee said.

Sequel is now in the process of opening up its first storefront about a mile from the Cal Poly campus.

Sequel Tea does pop-ups at Cal Poly and they can also be found at the San Luis Obispo Downtown Farmers' Market every Thursday evening.