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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Bubble Tea

Bubble tea. Have you tried it yet? Maybe you've heard it called milk tea or tapioca tea or pearl tea. It's also been called boba tea (boba means big breasts in Cantonese). This stuff has really taken off in San Francisco and the fad is now spreading across the country. You can find little Asian shops all over town that sell it.

This chilled tea comes in all different flavors, colors and in different formulas all non-carbonated and non-alcoholic. The flavors are tropical. Most are a mixture of tea, syrup flavoring and milk. I tried lychee green tea this afternoon without the milk and it was very refreshing. It's a lot less sweet than soda but sweeter than you might be used to for tea. It comes with a huge straw to accomodate the optional big black tapioca pearls that sink to the bottom of the cup. Tapioca pearls are gummy and flavorless but add some textural interest to the drink.

From what I have read bubble tea originally came from Taipei, Taiwan sometime in the 1980's where like so many other parts of Asia it's often quite hot and humid. It then took off and became popular all over Asia coming to the US a few years ago, mainly the west coast.

Here's something else I discovered. The name "bubble" doesn't refer to the tapioca balls but the foam on the drink--like a martini it must be shaken, never stirred. Personally I'm not sure I believe this. What I do believe, is that if you are looking to try something new that refreshes better than soda on a hot day, bubble tea is the ticket.