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Bubble Tea


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102 replies to this topic

#1 Skie

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 12:50 AM

Ah, originated in Asia (Malaysia, can't remember which country), then made popular in Hong Kong among other places, then exported to Canada & US. Aka "Bubble Tea" (referring to the original drink being tea based with starchy "bubbles").

I'll only drink the fresh fruit (or tea ones for that matter), not the junk with powdered "stuff" to flavour the liquid. My personal recommendation in Vancouver, BC for good Bubble Tea places is Oasis (Kerrisdale area... West 41st Avenue). Nice soft, slightly chewy balls with real fruit for the drink.

Anyone know of a really really good Bubble Tea house in Seattle?

#2 Steve Plotnicki

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 04:19 AM

What's the point of bubble tea other than to make the drink more filling? I don't think it tastes bad but, it doesn't exactly add much taste to the drink. Texture yes, taste no. In fact in NYC I've gotten brave enough to now order bubble tea without the bubbles and you know what, it's better.

#3 Sandra Levine

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 06:15 AM

It depends how you feel about tapioca. :smile:

Texture is an important component in Chinese cuisine. Chinese Gastronomy, an important and fascinating book about the underpinnings of Chinese cuisine, states that the merit of each dish lies two-thirds in its flavor and one-third in its texture. At the most sophisticated tables, texture became an end in itself. In some cases the cook was challenged with the problem of providing taste for substances that had none, but were valued for their texture. Bubble teas seem to spring from this tradition.

#4 Steve Plotnicki

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 06:32 AM

I like tapioca very much. But bubble tea doesn't taste much like tapioca. At least the large black pearls don't.

#5 Sandra Levine

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 06:56 AM

Is it tapioca you like or tapioca pudding? If the latter, as I suspect, it is really the eggs, cream and sugar that you like. To put it kindly, plain tapioca is a textural element, not a flavor component. For those who enjoy bubble teas, the tapioca adds some bouncy fun to what otherwise would be a simpler, sweetened, milky iced tea.

#6 Toby

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 11:37 AM

Sandra, have you been to Dim Sum Go Go? In their vegetarian dim sum platter, they have something I think they call white sea fungus that is this amazing spongy thing, quite beautiful, that's almost all texture.

#7 LaNiña

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 11:39 AM

I don't like bubble tea at all. The slimy little "bubbles" are tasteless and, well, slimy and I don't understand the point. Do the bubbles add flavor or only texture? Steve, that's a good idea, to order it without the pearls.

#8 kjohn

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 04:48 PM

They're not tasteless, but are there mostly to add texture to the beverage. They do add a slight detectable flavor to the drink.

At any rate, if they aren't to your tastes, you can order straight milk tea. No need to confuse the issue by ordering bubble tea 'without the bubbles.'

#9 Sandra Levine

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 07:46 PM

white sea fungus that is this amazing spongy thing, quite beautiful, that's almost all texture.

Yes, I've had it. Like a sponge, it absorbs the dips and sauces eagerly. I love that soft crunch.

#10 Skie

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 09:42 PM

Well, if not "bubbles" or "pearls", then perhaps have you tried Coconut meat in your "bubble tea"?

Personally, I still like "bubbles" for the texture factor, gives me something to do to NOT just chug the whole drink. btw, my favorite flavours still are Passionfruit, and also Mango. What's yours?

#11 col klink

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Posted 28 July 2002 - 10:44 PM

Wow, who knew that floaties in tea is a good thing? :biggrin:

Next time I'm in Canada (hopefully very soon), I'll try and find some.

#12 Michael Laiskonis

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 12:49 AM

I love the concept of bubble tea and have begun to see variations in the slightly more "haute" realm...

One that comes to mind... At a benefit in Chicago earlier this year Grant Achatz of Trio did a "bubble tea" consisting of, I believe, cucmber juice, green tea, a little crème fraîche, a dill ice, and salmon roe as the "bubbles". The whole was served in a cordial glass, straw and all. Cute, and sounds tasty too (didn't get to sample it).

I also like the juices/teas with little cubes of flavored agar jelly. Overall, the ones I've sampled have been cloyingly sweet or obviously not made with highest quality product. Like I said, the concept...!
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#13 Ellen Shapiro

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 06:10 AM

I have to agree with Plotnicki (is that okay?) on the "stuff in the tea" issue. I actually like the "bubbles." I like the texture and I think they're fun (and a shocking surprise the first few times you sip one up through the big fat straw). But they end up being a distraction from the drink. It becomes all about the bubbles rather than about the tea. In essence, the bubbles take over the tea so it's not about the tea at all but rather about the bubbles. The bubbles themselves add texture initially (they don't impart flavor and they do obviously add texture), but that textural experience is when they first enter your mouth--after that it's more of an exercise in chewing and all thought (and taste) of the drink in which the bubbles were suspended is long since forgotten. So, is bubble tea about the solids or about the liquids (it is supposed to be a beverage, isn’t it)?

Personally, after my first bubble tea experience (which I had in Richmond--the suburb of Vancouver, not the state of Virginia) I determined that it was fun once but the bubbles were too much of a distraction--I preferred the beverage on its own. At which point the entire concept unraveled for me because the bubble tea shop also had fresh squeezed fruit juices (to which they were adding bubbles) so I ordered my very favorite--papaya juice.
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#14 Steve Plotnicki

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 06:16 AM

You know maybe the problem is they put too many bubbles in the tea. Sometimes you get a mouthful with just one sip and then you have to do too much chewing. Next time I order one I will suggest less bubbles. But one thing nobody mentioned, how about those cool straws that you could drive an 18 wheeler through? Ice cream stands should consider using them for extra thick shakes so you don't have to suck so hard to get the shake to come through the straw.

#15 mamster

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 08:29 AM

Next time I'm in Canada (hopefully very soon), I'll try and find some.

klink, bubble tea is all over Seattle!

There's a stand in the Uwajimaya food court; there's the ultra-cool Gossip nearby in Chinatown; there's one on Pike right by the market; and there are about ten in the U-district. We'll go check it out.

I like bubble tea, but I haven't really noticed any gradations of quality. And I believe it's from Taiwan, originally.
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#16 Sandra Levine

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 11:36 AM

. But one thing nobody mentioned, how about those cool straws that you could drive an 18 wheeler through? Ice cream stands should consider using them for extra thick shakes so you don't have to suck so hard to get the shake to come through the straw.

YES! The straw makes you feel like a kid in grade-school with peashooter. :smile:

#17 Schielke

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 12:11 PM

In Seattle, check out Pochi Bubble tea and Crepes on 50th and University Ave (right by the saturday farmers mkt!).

They have really nice bubble tea. A favorite of mine is the fresh strawberry "smoothie" with milk pudding added. drool.... This mix is also a good way to introduce people to the idea of a textural component in a drink.

Their food is ok, the toasts and crepes are fun!

For the adventurous or insane, try a durian bubble tea!!!!!!

Ben :laugh:
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#18 foodgeek

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 12:37 PM

I like bubble tea. I like the texture of the bubbles, and they seem to absorb some tea flavor after a while. But, i do order it sometimes without the bubbles (or milk) when I'm in the (already sweetened) iced tea frame of mind. I prefer that to getting unsweetened ice tea somwhere and stiring like mad to gte the (now cold) sugar to dissolve. :)
-Jason

#19 Akiko

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 01:53 PM

I agree, if the tea is not intensely flavoured, then the bubbles don't pick up any flavour and they only add a textural element to the tea... which I actually like.

I had a "mini" reunion over the weekend with the girls that I lived with at college. Two girls of japanese descent, two of chinese, two of korean... my husband and another korean friend went to St. Alps to have bubble tea. We actually had a discussion about how important texture is to Asian cuisine, and how important having vegetables crisp and noodles al dente is to us. The Japanese have a word for it, "ha gotai" it literally means "tooth feel", and is hugely important.

My asian friends and I all love bubble tea (not to say we are representative of ALL asians), for us it adds another element of complexity to the drink. Although, I wouldn't turn down a glass of bubble tea without the bubbles either!

And St Alps has a black tea and coffee bubble tea and that one actually imparts its flavour to the tapioca. Chew and taste even more intense coffee!

By the way, my very anglo british husband who can describe tapioca pudding as his most hated dessert at school growing up, loves bubble tea. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

#20 greenhitop

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Posted 29 July 2002 - 09:07 PM

Hi,

I'm new to the board;but I'm an expat American living in Singapore.
I heard that Bubble tea originated in Taiwan;but made trendy in
HK. The Bubble tea boom has ended in Singapore;but at one point
in 2000 it was everywhere. The going price for Bubble tea is about
90 cents to $1.50 Singapore dollars. The tapioca balls are good;but
some stall owners under cook or over cook the tapioca balls. If you
like Japanese mochi(rice cakes made with rice flour) you will like
the bubble tea. If your not familiar with the rice flour treats- the
Bubble tea might seem overated.

There's still some Bubble tea stalls on the island ;but they seem to
be the last hold outs. These stalls usually have a huge menu.
Taiwan pudding with the tapioca balls, yougurt shakes with tapioca
balls, coffee shakes with tapioca balls etc.. You can even order
just the juices or teas with out the tapioca balls now. Bubble tea
without the bubbles. LOL.

#21 Saffy

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 03:54 AM

I have to say it ... I am a closet tapioca pudding fan.. I like sago too.. sigh .. I don't know how after all this time and all the good food in the world.. I still like Tapioca pudding. A comfort food I guess, reminds me of being little and watching TV in my PJs with a bowl of creamy sweet tapioca pudding.

Ok I think with this post I have just destroyed any possibility of having some credibility on this site :) :biggrin:

#22 Jinmyo

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 04:50 AM

Gah. Tapioca is or was one of the enforced foods at British boarding schools. Every bloody day.
"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

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#23 Sandra Levine

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 05:00 AM

The Bubble tea boom has ended in Singapore;

How long do you give it in North America? Food fads have a very short lifespan. There was a time when every other store on Lexington Avenue was a flavored popcorn place; then, it was chocolate chip cookies (or were the cookies first?)

#24 greenhitop

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 05:16 AM

Longer than Singapore that's for sure. The food fads here seem to
come in surges. First the novelty , then the bandwagon hoppers, then
the over saturation. Since I've been in Singapore (Dec 2000) I've witnessed
the end of "Apple Strudel", the entire Bubble Tea boom, and now the
fancy Japanized French bakery bread bonanza. Surely the over priced
European Chocolate is the next thing here. First it was at posh Takashimaya
Department Store, then post Tangs department stores- it's at the local
supermarkets now.

We have our food fads, but we're stubborn. I think we Americans learn
to keep food from fads. Look at the Cookie biz, or California Kitchen/ Wolf
Gang Puck Asian Pizza dishes. America is huge. There's always a market
to expand to.

I would like to see how far Bubble Tea could go in the USA in a city without
an Asian community.

#25 greenhitop

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 05:24 AM

Here's a Bubble Tea recipe.


Enjoy and good luck!!


http://www.e-mart.co...on=recipe&sn=56

#26 malarkey

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 03:19 PM

I would like to see how far Bubble Tea could go in the USA in a city without an Asian community.

I don't know.. bubble tea is pretty popular here among the non-asians. but maybe its only temporarily popular, since its somewhat faddish.

I had my first taste of bubble tea about a month ago. Very filling, mine was a fruit juice bubble tea, with probably about 20 pearls at the bottom of the drink. BTW, I looked those suckers up and they are ~100 calories for 7 pearls. We're talking calorie bombs when you consider all the fruit juice in those things. I couldn't finish my drink, I was full when it was only 1/2 gone. yowza!

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#27 chefette

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 06:46 AM

I just saw Bubble Tea a couple of weeks ago - unfortunately it WAS at one of those food court Chinese places. But it looked REALLY COOL and I HAD to try it - I went for Honey Dew yuck yuck yuck yuck yucky :wacko:

I Did think the 'bubbles' were cool though. A bit scary though since they were black. Why are they black? Are they soaked in tea? is this what makes the drink 'TEA'?

I will have to try the recipee and see if it is more palatable. Thanks for posting it.

#28 coffeetaster

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 12:52 PM

I tried bubble tea at the SCAA conference (Specialty Coffee Association of America) and found it somewhat unpalatable. I did not like the mouth feel. However I have learned that there is no middle ground with bubble-tea - either you love it or hate it. Count me in the "hate it" column. I also found the black tapioca balls rather unappealing.

Cheers!
Coffeetaster
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#29 hsm

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Posted 01 August 2002 - 09:02 PM

I love the concept of bubble tea and have begun to see variations in the slightly more "haute" realm...

One that comes to mind... At a benefit in Chicago earlier this year Grant Achatz of Trio did a "bubble tea" consisting of, I believe, cucmber juice, green tea, a little crème fraîche, a dill ice, and salmon roe as the "bubbles". The whole was served in a cordial glass, straw and all. Cute, and sounds tasty too (didn't get to sample it).

I also like the juices/teas with little cubes of flavored agar jelly. Overall, the ones I've sampled have been cloyingly sweet or obviously not made with highest quality product. Like I said, the concept...!

If you're in Chicago, I'd like to suggest a trek to JoyYee in Chinatown (a long way from Trio in many ways;-). First rate ripe mango (both pureed and diced) is the main ingredient in their Mango Coconut Green Jelly Tea. Yum. With a few bubbles :smile: Also highly recommended by the friend who introduced me to the restaurant - the Taro with tapioca freeze. JoyYee's drinks are similar, he says, to Halo-Halo, a dessert in his native Philippines, usually consisting of local fruits like langka, jack fruit and other sweet things over or under shaved ice. And then topped off with a drizzle of yet another sweet liquid.

#30 hjshorter

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Posted 22 February 2003 - 12:19 PM

Has anyone else had this stuff? Who came up with the idea? I just had my first today - Green tea flavor - and boy it was weird. :blink:
Heather Johnson
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