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white guy eats foreign foods
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
  Bubble Tea

Bubble tea, pearl milk tea:
Bubble tea consists of a mixture of sweetened iced tea and milk and possibly other flavorings. Black gummy balls made of tapioca, called "pearls" or "bubbles", sit at the bottom of the cup. The pearls are much larger than those found in tapioca pudding, with a diameter of at least 7 millimeters (smaller balls are occasionally used). They are sucked through a wide straw along with the drink, providing something to chew on between sips.

When ordering, customers are often asked whether they want "boba" or "pearls" in their beverages. Both terms refer to the tapioca balls.

The recipes for bubble tea vary, but usually flavoring is added to hot black or green tea which is then shaken in a cocktail shaker or blender with ice until chilled. The mixture is then usually combined with milk and softened tapioca pearls. Most cafes that serve bubble tea also add a plastic seal by a machine to the top of the cup to be pierced by a straw by the drinker.

The flavorings added to bubble tea are usually fruity, and can be either powders, fruit juice/pulp, or syrups. Drinks made with fruit pulp and juice only with boba added are sometimes refered to as bubble tea, and are therefore distinguished by the seller as seperate from green, black, or brown (milk) tea.

Tapioca pearls are primarily made from tapioca starch from the cassava plant. The pearls are then heated with caramel into a thick paste. The paste is then passed through a wet sieve to create different pearl sizes.

Another alternative to traditional bubble tea is to substitute tapioca pearls with coconut jelly, a lighter option. Coconut jelly is served in small Lego-like pieces and has a sweet, crunchy consistency. They add a new dimension to bubble tea and are often ordered "half and half," meaning half pearls and half coconut jelly.

click here to watch if there's no pic above
Oh, man. I had the same reaction. Bubble tea is pretty nasty. It's like a sinus infection sucked through a straw.

You can't imagine how disappointed I was when you said, "frog eyeballs." I thought, "At least I can refer to snot nuggets." I am not joking - you used both phrases I wanted to use.
Sinus infection through the straw...that's a nice one.

Something to be said for something so gross that it inspires the same accurate description from two people.
I kind of like the bubble tea, though some of them are far too sweet and ful l o sugar... I LOVE this vlog, though, and plan to be promoting it soon. Of course, I ,too, am a white guy who eats foreign foods.

Suggestion I haven't yet eaten: menudo
Suggestion I have: pho, vietnamese noodle soup. mmmmmm.
Hey Clark. Thanks for the love :)

It's been fun so far. And thanks for suggestions. I haven't had either of what you mention.

I will be adding a section on the right-hand side for unfulfilled suggestions.
Actually... bubble tea orginated from Taiwan. They have a huge weird drink thing going on there. Some of the other fads that they have are not the actual drinks but how they are packaged. Sometimes they'll do bubble tea in a plastic cup and then seal the top with a plastic film with a heater before they give it to you. The fat straws are pointed so you can puncture the film. However, the cups are flimsy at times, so beware of explosions.

I don't know, it might be the fact that I'm Asian but I love bubble tea. In general, bubble tea in America doesn't taste that great. You'll have to go to a really local Asian restaurant to get the real bubble tea--strong tea flavor with a reconstituted form of powdered milk (google Carnation milk) and syrup.

By far, my favorite flavor would be black tea and coffee bubble tea.
"actually... bubble tea orginated from Taiwan. "

-Thanks for the info Anon. I will defiantely have to try it in an Asian restuaruant...and I'll mind the wrapping :)
The Bubble Tea experience can be sharply affected by the quality of the bubble tea location. Case-in-point, while living in Vancouver I got used to fresh papaya in my papaya tea. When I moved to the Bay Area I quickly realized that ordering papaya pearl tea would see the vendor pouring papaya syrup into the cup - nasty.

Forget about the cleanliness or ambiance of the tea house. In my experience the true test is whether they have fresh papaya, mango, bananas etc behind the counter, or whether there's a rack of nasty syrup waiting to ruin your day.

When you're in SF the best pearl tea place is Double Rainbow on Irving street near the park.

On the pho front... be sure to order the house special. Anything else is sinful. You just can't beat a healthy portion of tripe and tendon with your flank steak. If you make it to Irving for the pearl tea you'll have your choise of pho places within a block or two.


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