Spending some time in China allowed me to extensively try out bubble tea, a type of dessert drink that originated in Taiwan apparently in the 1900’s (according to Wiki). For those of you who don’t know the tea, there are several shops around the Toronto area that sell it – most famously Bubble Tea (go figure!).
Bubble tea comes in different flavours, and the consistencies can range from liquid to a thicker smoothie or milkshake consistency, this is partly due to where you get your bubble tea made and what’s inside it.
Bubble tea in China is typically made with a really strong brew, which comprises about 1/4-1/2 of the cup…. the rest if your choice of flavoured syrup, fruit or other mixes that give it a lovely taste. Flavoured syrup is also a great way to add artificial flavours like cinnamon, chocolate and sweetness to your cup!
The treat can be served cold or hot, depending on what you’re looking for and most sport the infamous tapioca pearls that make the image of Bubble Tea so distinct. Surprisingly, bubble tea pearls are typically very small, and now they come in a variety of different sizes (my favourite is the big pearls), flavours and even colours!Other popular choices instead of tapioca pearls are pudding, jelly, chocolate shavings, beans and even rice or barley, which seems to be more common in Asian countries than over here. After hesitating to taste random bits of pudding in my drink, I decided to take a leap and order some. While not really my thing, I appreciate all the options available in these shops for the consumer… plus I guess some people get a kick out of mixing different textures with their drinks!
Soooo what should you order for your first time?
1. Pick a flavour you like, which will more than likely be some sort of fruit if you go to a Western shop and are looking for a chilled drink. I normally stick with Mango or Papaya flavours at Bubble Tea.
2. Decide if you want a hot or cold drink
3. Pick what texture you like and add it! Tapioca pearls are chewy and flavourless so be aware of them when you ask for this addition.
One unique thing about bubble tea is it’s sealing method. Typically a piece of plastic covers the top part of the drink, covered by a machine that almost presses the thin film onto the top of the cup. Oh and giant plastic straws in a variety of colours to slurp up those lovely delights!