One thing I’ve noticed about WCI’s location is that we are surrounded by BUBBLE TEA!
Since there are so many international students from Asia, the demand for the taste of home is increasing. Over the years, Asian supermarkets and Asian restaurants have built their homes in every university campus. Being in an Asian influenced society can introduce you to restaurants with new foods. You might find yourself looking at the bubble tea shop from the outside, wondering why it’s so busy (in the days before the COVID-19 Pandemic and social distancing). Especially in bubble tea stores that only serve beverages!
Bubble tea isn’t a simple beverage. The drink started off in Taiwan in the 1980’s as milk tea and then it expanded to non-milk tea. It comes with toppings like tapioca, pudding, red beans, jellies and lots more. You have choices of either cold or hot or the main tea bases, including black tea, jasmine tea, green tea, oolong tea and many more. Tea bases are the gold to your bubble: they give you that tea flavor and without tea..it would be just sugar and milk. Of course you can find different types of flavour like taro, mango, almond but the original is bubble tea is where all these flavours evolved from.
I call myself a bit of an expert on bubble tea. And I’ve been a patron of most – if not all – bubble tea spots around our school. Before I give you my verdict on the top three places to go, here’s a bit of an explanation on how I judged each location:
- Original milk tea was originally made cold and so I would like to judge each drink like that.
- Each bubble tea store is different because they use different tea bases for their original milk teas, so I’m sticking with Pearl Milk as the standard flavour.
- The best Pearl Milk tea will be marked on flavour, softness, freshness of tapioca and balance of tea and milk.
THIRD PLACE: Now Tea
Kung-Fu Tea used to be my go-to place for authentic flavours and it recently re-branded itself to become Now Tea. Kung- Fu Tea’s founders Ray, Allen and Michael wanted to make an authentic bubble tea business as they experience knock-offs in America. They promised to bring authentic bubble tea from Taiwan, and I have to say it does taste authentic. It has the most authentic flavours on the menu, and I love it. Hopefully, Now Tea can live up to the same expectations: read below for my assessment.
An employee named Ben has always gone for the Pearl Milk tea, which he describes as “the most simple and delicious.”
Here’s my take:
Now Tea uses black tea and whole milk. The tapioca was probably not fresh because it’s not hot and not close to being warm. Their tapioca was not chewy, and it was harder than the last time I went. So, the tapioca criteria was just a disappointment for me because the chewier and softer tapioca is the easier it is to drink. To enjoy the soft taste and flavours of bubble tea, there can’t be an unpleasant surprise of textures. The milk tea was immensely creamier than the normal original milk teas I had tasted. It was not as sweet as regular places, even with the standard sugar and ice levels. What stood out to me was instead of normal white sugar or granulated sugar they used honey and that was admirable. Honey is a healthier alternative to sugar, so that didn’t make me feel guilty. Everything was basic: the flavour was there but it was not balanced in milk and tea. The flavours you taste first are milk, sweetness and tea. The fact that the milkiness tastes more prominent, the sweetness becomes less overwhelming and that’s the same with tea flavours. Each taste affects each other, and I’m looking for more of a balanced effect.
Sadly, Now Tea doesn’t fit my dream of the perfect Pearl Milk tea.
SECOND PLACE: Noon Moment
Noon Moment’s signature original milk tea has a green tea base as default but can be switched for black tea. This bubble tea was closer to the taste of balance between the tea and milk. It was on the sweeter side, and it throws you a punch of tea flavor.
Let’s start with flavours: I taste first, sugar, tea and milk. You can really taste the tea and sugar. It’s like they tried adding more sugar to sweeten up the bitter tea flavour. It was an attempt at balance but the sweetness was too much. I think it’s better to taste the tea than sugar so that the authenticity of bubble tea still remains. The aftertaste is consumed by sugar; with so much sugar you’re bound to get thirsty and drink water instead of your milk tea. Apart from the sweetness, the tea flavour is also strong, and I liked it because I could still call it bubble TEA. The tea flavour is addictive and that kept me drinking more. Another bonus mark for Noon Moment was for hot and freshly made tapioca. Did it taste good? Yes! It was the best tapioca out of the three, due to its super soft and chewy texture. It literally melts in your mouth. Overall, I loved it! Even if the sweetness is an issue, it can always be adjusted.
FIRST PLACE: CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice
Out of all the places, I found the best Pearl Milk tea from a famous Taiwanese bubble tea chain. CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice was never my go-to place for bubble tea but if I do go, I’d go for their Pearl Milk tea. To begin, the overall taste is more milky than creamy so it could taste a bit diluted. I know bubble tea is supposed to be creamy or completely milky but that can be too much, especially when bubble tea has creamer and whole milk. That being said, CoCo’s bubble tea helps you get the balance between tea and milk. The balance helps it become refreshing and rather than a drink that makes you crave water and leaves an intense residue of milk in your mouth. The first flavours I tasted were milk, tea and then sugar. I like this combination better than the two stores above, and as a result I’m giving CoCo the top rating.
PLEASE NOTE: During this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic, please stay at home and stay healthy. If you are interested in purchasing tea from any of these places, call first to see if they deliver or provide take-out services. Avoid unnecessary trips outside of your home.