Bubble tea has been on my radar for many years. But it fell in the “Ew, you must be kidding me” category, so didn’t pay much attention.
Thing is, bubble tea didn’t go away like I thought it would. In fact, it has grown into a seemingly booming industry. They talk about bubble tea on the food channels. They talk about bubble tea on blogs. They are talking about bubble tea at work. Bubble tea shops seem to be spouting up in every community. And before I knew it, there’s a new bubble tea place opened so close to work that I can no longer ignor it.
Bubble tea started as a thing made with cold tea, milk and sugar/syrup with the added tapioca balls. It’s become popular, and the more popular it gets, people are becoming creative in what they serve. Now we have bubble juice, bubble milk, and added exotic “jellies” like pomelo and mango popping sago.
Metaphorically speaking, my sister held my hand and led me to Bubble Buzz at 10140 104 Street (yes THAT 104th Street, the 104th Street that is getting everything new, cool and delicious, not to mention the little thing called the Farmers Market on Saturdays).
I still had the “ew” factor in my head, and found the whole bubble tea idea to be strange and weird, but at the same time, had the willingness to try something new. Bubble tea has been around since the 1990’s, there has to be SOMETHING about it, and I was determined to find out what.
Bubble Buzz is bright, clean, almost clinical. The menu board is easy to read and understand. There are three waffle irons lined up in a row. Waffles. They’re everywhere.
I selected a blend of pineapple and mango juice and the regular tapioca balls. I am told by reliable bubble tea fans that Bubble Buzz is one of the few bubble tea joints that uses fresh fruit and juice in their bubble tea. I found this attractive.
One of the three pretty ladies behind the counter made up the concoction. Another took my money. The third gave it a whirl in a blender, then stuck it in a machine to seal the cup with a plastic top. I was given a container of very large colourful straws (I took purple), and was instructed to poke the pointed end of the straw through the plastic lid.
It made a very satisfying popping sound. I would have been happy doing that alone for my coffee break. For bubble-wrap popping aficionados, a bubble-tea lid has a satisfying pop/crack sound to it when the straw is poked through. Unfortunately though, at $6.15 for a two-fruit beverage, it would be an expensive habit. Perhaps what I could do, is just stand there, by the cash register, and say “here, let me do that for you” and poke everyone’s straws through their lids. I digress.
My first sip was pure fruit juice. Absolutely delicious and refreshing fruit juice. Next sip. A tapioca ball. I was, “uh oh, ball” and my first reaction was to spit it out. But that lasted a few seconds. I chewed. I still wanted to spit it out. Then I swallowed. I wondered aloud: “What is the nutritional value of the tapioca?”, “what’s the point?”, “there isn’t any flavour”, “why am I doing this?”. So I went for another sip to try again. Second sip, beautiful fresh fruit juice. Weird tapioca balls. Chew. Swallow. “Hm”, says I. “This is weird, but oddly interesting”. So I take my third sip. This time I get three tapioca balls. I no longer want to spit them out. I chew. I am amazed. I swallow. It was fun.
By the time we got back to the office and entered the elevator, an Asian man saw our bubble-teas and exclaimed, “Cool! Bubble-tea!”. And by this time, I could answer honestly, “It is! It’s delicious. I love it”.