Nom Noms with Nam-My: Bubble tea
You’ve probably seen somebody walking around campus holding a plastic cup with a vacuum seal punctured by an overly large straw and either instantly craved your favorite variation of bubble tea or had no clue why anyone would want dark spherical objects as a part of their drinking experience.
What exactly is boba/bubble tea?
A teashop in Taiwan poured sweet tapioca balls into their tea as part of an experiment in the 1980s and it quickly became a hit amongst customers. Asian countries have become experts at brewing and serving tea, so the only way to enhance the experience was to try something different. From that moment in Taiwan, word began to spread. There is a wide variety of drink options to pair with tapioca, ranging from the classic milk teas to avocado smoothies. It’s become such a huge hit across the world that McDonalds even started offering bubble tea in Germany and Austria in 2012.
I’ll admit, the idea of having something chewy sitting at the bottom of your drink may not sound appetizing, but when the sinker is something that you enjoy (think Reese’s in your milkshake) it takes your drink to another level. The most important thing for people looking to try bubble tea is to remember that there are more options besides tapioca. There’s coffee jelly, lychee, apple, strawberry and a whole host of things to choose from. This drink isn’t just something you order off a menu. It’s all about what your favorite tea/smoothie/slushy is and what you want to munch on.
Ok, ok, you convinced me. Now where do I get some?
If you’re on campus, you’ve got two options: Café 101 and Tealicious. I’ve been going to Tealicious since I was a freshman in 2010 and its quality has always been consistently good with a large menu. Café 101 is a relative newcomer to campus and while its menu is technically smaller, its specialty drinks let snobs like myself get a different experience with each drink. Café 101’s Iced Milk Drink is perfect for people who can’t choose between tapioca and lychee jelly. However, Tealicious takes Cougar Cash while Café 101 doesn’t, so let’s just call it even.
For those looking to go off campus but still stay close, Teahouse on Shepherd Drive is king. Hands down they serve the best drinks made with the best ingredients, providing many chairs and a huge back area for students. Don’t be surprised to see Rice students and health students from the Texas Medical Center pack this place during the school year.
Don’t be afraid to try new combinations! At any respectable bubble tea house, there will be a large enough menu to make everyone happy.
BONUS: How to properly insert the straw
Take the straw out of the wrapper and place the pointed tip on the spot you want to puncture. Now raise the straw up a few inches and stab down with conviction. It should be a short and quick motion. If you try to force the straw through the vacuum seal, you might tear the top and run the risk of spilling your drink.