I have long heard of bubble tea, and have read the descriptions and seen the pictures, but it had been an exotic mystery … until now.
Bubble tea is the name for a ‘pearl’ tea drink with milk or fruit juice that originated in tea shops in Taichung, Taiwan, during the 1980s. There are plenty of recipes, and more are added all the time. They mostly contain a green, white, black or even red tea base mixed with fruit syrup or milk. The milky varieties can be served hot or cold.
The aforementioned pearls are called “boba” – small chewy balls made of tapioca starch. That might not sound too appetising but they add so much to the appeal of the drink. They are the reason for the iconic large-diameter straws. They have an agreeable chewy texture, very much like a wine gum. Those little spheres turn this preparation into a drinkable snack which is really quite sustaining. However, the “Bubble” element to the name doesn’t actually refer to the tapioca pearls which rest at the bottom of the cup, but to the froth at the top of the tea which is created when the drink is shaken.
Bubble tea has swept Asia, the US and Canada and now it’s reached London. It’s available in Soho, its logical first unveiling in the capital. Bubbleology is a small café with hints of a chemist’s workshop with blackboards, intriguing potions and lab assistants who will take time away from their delicious mixings and minglings to serve visitors.
We tried several versions of both hot and cold bubble teas. The fruit teas were light and refreshing. Those black tapioca pearls added substance but there was more. In addition to the gummy chews there were other smaller, translucent balls suspended in the drink. These were capsules of fruity flavour that burst in the mouth. Thirst-quenching and summery.
The weather was cold so the hot milk teas were especially welcome. They truly were piping hot and with those pearls this became more of a lunch than elevenses. The Taro milk tea was mild and comforting and just the drink to sit and sip while pawing over the morning papers. A drink over which to linger. The almond milk tea should be a Christmas special. It very much reminded me of marzipan. It’s sweet and warming and a great pick-me-up after hours of trotting around the January sales.
Bubbleology is a fun café that offers remarkable beverages, and some snacks that I’ll return to sample in the near future. Be warned – these drinks are addictive but be assured that they are healthy, so one of those no-guilt pleasures. Now, how rare is that?
49 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PF
Phone: 020 7494 4231
Visit Bubbleology here
Café review by Chrissie Walker © 2018