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Do you like bubble teas 珍珠奶茶?


FlyingSesame
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I am very addicted to bubble teas and have successfully converted a few non-Chinese friends of mine in the recent past. Interestingly, they were all genuinely surprised to find out how popular the drink is and even more amazed when I told them how much the drink has changed over time and the latest trend is the cheese foam-topped one with fresh fruits from upscale places like HeyTea 喜茶.

 

Anyway, I promised them to write an evolutionary history of bubble teas to satisfy their curiosity. And here it is - I thought it might be something interesting for people on this forum too, so I hope you don’t mind me sharing the link here. 

 

https://www.flyingsesame.com/how-bubble-tea-conquers-the-world/

 

I’m actually also keen to hear what people here think about bubble teas. There are a lot of hypes about whether they will become the Starbucks of China. It perhaps sounds a bit overstretched now but I don’t think I would mind one Chinese soft power like this 🙂

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Bubble tea is life to me. However, I find quite a few of my western friends are not keen on the boba or just the QQ texture in general. When I first came over to UK in early 2012 I could hardly find any and was really disappointed because by that time they're already everywhere in Melbourne, so glad to see that there are quite a lot spread out in most places in London now. Sweet desserts like bingsu, sweet potato ball dessert and these type of sweet desserts is also very common in Indonesia where I grew up so I love them 🤤

 

Haha your gossip about Jay Chou is funny too as I only discovered that there is approx. 400 calories in one cup of bubble tea so I've been reducing my consumption as well. I enjoy the traditional way of drinking tea but I also enjoy the "occasional" treat of bubble tea.

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14 minutes ago, amytheorangutan said:

Haha your gossip about Jay Chou is funny too as I only discovered that there is approx. 400 calories in one cup of bubble tea so I've been reducing my consumption as well. I enjoy the traditional way of drinking tea but I also enjoy the "occasional" treat of bubble tea.

I know! I’ve certainly grown a bit chubbier since all these new bubble tea shops popped up in London. Oh well, the guilty pleasure you’ll need once in a while 🙂

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I used to enjoy it occasionally in Kunming and I would usually ask the person preparing it to use a little less of the sugary sweetener. Some places used high-fructose corn syrup 高果糖玉米糖浆 instead of actual sugar. I tried my best to avoid those stands.

 

Would ask them what sweetener they used before ordering. Some would make a "simple syrup" every morning by heating equal parts of sugar and water. That was OK with me. If the person making the drink didn't understand what I meant or just plain didn't know what sweetener they used, I asked if they made it there in the shop or bought a liquid sweetener from a supplier. If it was the latter, I assumed the worst and passed up the drink. Just said no thanks, and walked on. 

 

The shops where I bought it were small independent "mom and pop" places, usually located within easy walking distance of a school, 中学 or 高中。Young "sweet tooth" students were their main customer base. They typically arrived on skateboards. (Yuppies in Beemers went elsewhere.) This wasn't an upscale "corporate" operation such as your article describes. 

 

Many of these shops would add fresh fruit for a little bit more. My favorite was to add half a juicy, ripe mango when they were in season. That usually cost 5 Yuan. I never heard of using a layer of cheese on top as described in your article, @FlyingSesame. Not sure it would have been a hit in these older, traditional neighborhoods. Cheese was never very popular with that particular demographic.  

 

The exception to that rule was pizza. None of the younger locals turned up their nose at cheese when melted on top of a pizza. 

 

I always indulged in delicious 珍珠奶茶 on visits to Taiwan. Seemed like it was a more integral part of the fabric of life there than in the Southwest of China Mainland. 

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On 8/22/2021 at 3:38 PM, abcdefg said:

Many of these shops would add fresh fruit for a little bit more. My favorite was to add half a juicy, ripe mango when they were in season. That usually cost 5 Yuan. I never heard of using a layer of cheese on top as described in your article, @FlyingSesame. Not sure it would have been a hit in these older, traditional neighborhoods. Cheese was never very popular with that particular demographic.  

Yah bubble teas used to be quite cheap (the cheapest ones today costs around 10 Yuan). The cheese topped tea is a new phenomenon in recent 2-3years. I thought the combination would never work but it actually tastes surprisingly nice. Now I’m a big fan 🙂

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That's another yay for cheese on bubble tea from me! @abcdefg just to clarify though, as is often the case in China, "cheese" here refers to (sweetened) cream cheese, like for cheese cake or other desserts. So this just gives you a nice tangy, sweet, creamy topping to your tea - works best if you get something not overly sweet or maybe even quite bitter for the tea itself. My favourite combination is unsweetened matcha latte with cheese topping.

It's really not unlike cream-topped hot chocolates or coffee drinks, just slightly less fluffy and a bit more tangy (in a good way!)

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Whenever I’m in China I get my daily (:oops:) dose from CoCo.  大杯茉香奶茶,加一份儿珍珠,无糖的,热的 or 少冰 depending on the weather. I find that the boba provide just enough sugar to make the milk tea sweet but not give you diabetes unlike the teas with the “regular” amount of sugar. 
 

The CoCo store in London doesn’t really make the same tea, something always tastes a bit off. I’ll give the CoCo store in Paris a try next time I’m there. 
 

The cream cheese options or the molasses boba-milk are quite literally not my cup of tea. 😁

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11 hours ago, RedInkstone said:

The CoCo store in London doesn’t really make the same tea, something always tastes a bit off.

Daily CoCo sounds like quite an indulgence 🙂 

I agree that the London CoCo has somehow an inferior taste. Maybe I am just being nostalgic…

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Good article. Especially in mentioning the murky origins.

Would have appreciated some research into bubble tea’s predecessor, 青蛙撞奶, one of the more famous stores (陳三鼎,台北市公館夜市) closed down last year out of the blue, nobody knows why… 

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