After announcements, discussion and commercials I had to try the hype: Tea with bubbles, also called Bubbletea. It had arrived in Germany and the store with the megalomania letter that tries to sell what Americans call food added it to their so called food selection. And because I was in Germany for a few days I had to try.
What is Bubble tea
According to Wikipedia there are many variations, but here I limit myself to those with balls. In short it is tea with milk and small tapioca balls. You can eat the balls which are filled with some fruit or syrup. Of course you can break and eat the balls. And if you don’t choke on it you will survive, for now. The drink was invented in the 1980s in Taiwan. But a more detailed origin seems to be unknown. The inventor is probably hiding in some save-house.
Attempt 1: Just a bubbletea store.
There in Hamburg I found several shops that only sell Bubble tea and at some of these places you can sit to get it inside. This all means that there are people that think that selling bubbletea is enough to run a business. What does that tell us?
I picked up a random one, ordered some bubbletea that had tastes that sounded ok and sat down to get it in. I chose green milk tea with orange toppings and took a look at the machinated “brewing” process: put some content of things in a special mixer, add milk, let the machine do whatever it does and add some balls.
It was a hot day so the cool drink was welcome. The taste was not something I would choose again. So this is not a fair comparison for the shop.
Once I was outside I took my flask and rinsed my body with some proper tea.
Attempt 2: The shop with the megalomania letter
A couple of days later it was time for the shop whose commercial made me aware of the existence of this “drink”. In their café I chose a Milky White with Passion fruit and a strawberry topping. After looking at the “brewing” I sat down near the window. This one tasted much better. Of course the choice of taste was better, but also the texture of the drink was better and the bubbles tasted less like plastic and seemed to contain fruit. I started to see why people might like it. Or was it some mind control system in the tea. It tasted much like their strawberry Milkshake (duh), but with some fruit added and deep, deep, deep down there was something that tasted like tea. I still prefer the Milkshake though. Compared to some proper tea the taste is flat and simple. But then again would you expect something better from this place?
So now time for some proper tea. Oh, they don’t sell it here. So, back to the hotel.
Not only Germany
Since those days in Hamburg I have seen that the bubbles have floated to my own country. First as a poster in the window of some Asian food store, later as a standalone drink place in my own town. I have not tried their drinks yet and I do not intend to.
If I’m honest I can see it as a kind of Milkshake drink. In the tea world I can see it having a place with a discussion similar to that about milk in tea or not, probably worse. As a kind of ice tea with milk and some fruit candies in it.
However, it feels like the general degradation of food that has been going on the last century or so. A quick fix, no care about health, nutrition or proper taste and something addictive to improve sales. Fitting perfectly with what that big letter shop sells. But then again I sometimes like to be proven wrong.
Would I drink it again. Probably, but not often. Under those circumstances where I do not have much options. Circumstances not my choice. Or just to try it again and discover whether my taste buds are flattened enough to drink this.