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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Not Your Mother's Tea

Have you ever heard of bubble tea? I discovered this tea-latte-type concoction about a week ago while I was publishing my review of the Rose Garden Tea Room on TeaGuide.com. One of the required fields on this particular site was a drop down box labeled, "What type of tea were you served or did you purchase?" I recognized all of the options, except one. Bubble Tea? Never heard of that one, so of course I had to find out exactly what it was and where I could go to try it out.
After just a little investigation I came upon a shop not too far away called Fat Straws Bubble Tea. Here's a little description of bubble tea straight from their website:

"In its simplest form, ultratrendy bubble tea is a mixture of Chinese black tea, creamer, and sugar served over giant black tapioca balls. 'Bubbles' do not refer to carbonation but to both the foam on top and the chewy prizes resting at the bottom of the drink."

Hmmm. Chewy prizes?

Bubbleteasupply.com elaborates a little on the origins of this puzzling drink, stating that, "Bubble Tea originated in Taiwan in the early 1980's at a small tea stand."

I am almost always up for trying something new, and thankfully I have a wonderful husband who usually doesn't mind sharing in my adventurous undertakings. So, on our way home from church this past Sunday afternoon, we made a little detour to Fat Straws.
This small store is located at 5301 Alpha Road #38, in Dallas, TX. It has a very minimalistic design with a little bit of an asian influence. Their menu is comprised mostly of bubble teas, regular teas and smoothies. Fat Straws does not serve food, so I won't be doing a tea room review here, but I did want to give you a little info on my bubble tea experience.
We were helped by Mae, who was very helpful and knowledgeable. She explained that the tapioca balls in the bubble tea are black in color because they contain maple syrup. We were also able to sample one of their teas of the day. It was a melon and mango flavored white tea that was so light and refreshing, I almost opted for a tall glass of that and abandoned my quest to try this bubble tea. But, I was on a mission, and after explaining to Mae that we were here to be initiated into the ranks of bubble tea drinkers, ordered a medium "Classic Tea".
When the bartender placed my drink on the counter, I picked out my favorite colored straw. Fat Straws is named literally for its fat straws. They are about one half inch in diameter, large enough to suck up the tapioca balls, and have a pointed bottom end that you use to pierce the thin plastic top that covers your cup. As I took my first sip, I enjoyed the creamy sweetened tea mixture - and then I got my first taste of the tapioca balls.
I am not usually a person who cares too much about the texture of my food, but one thing I absolutely do not like is any kind of gummy candy. Gummy bears, gummy worms, peach rings - I do not like the way they feel in my mouth and how long it takes to chew them up. Not only was this my first experience with bubble tea, but, can you believe it, it was my first experience with tapioca as well, and unfortunately, the consistency of a tapioca ball is much like that of a gummy bear. Don't get me wrong, the flavor of the tapioca was very nice and was a good match with the tea, but I just couldn't get past the texture.
Sip and chew, sip and chew. That's the motto at Fat Straws, and if you don't like tapioca, you can do like my husband, and get a tropical smoothie - with or without fruit flavored jellies.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera with me, but if you visit Fat Straws' website and watch the slide show on the home page, you can get an idea of what bubble tea actually looks like.
As for me, I don't think I'll be trying bubble tea again any time soon. However, if I'm back in that area again, I just might have to drop by Fat Straws and give that melon and mango white tea another go.

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