I know i am super late on this. I should’ve written about this one or two years ago, so why now? Because i didn’t think the bubble would remain inflated this long. We’ve witnessed how transient public’s fixation span is, be it over something or someone — certain brand, music genre, show-type, singing group ‘style’, facial features… you name it we’ve seen it come and go. Now you’re it, next year you could be a bygone. Hence it is common, or rather expected, for them to milk every second of their fame before they lose it. So much so that you’re readily grown tired of seeing or hearing about it on every freaking channel (nearly) 24/7.
Bubble tea isn’t the first F&B craze we’ve had. You surely remember getting hung up on frozen yogurt several years ago , hyped up by its fat-free, healthier-than-ice-cream claim, yet ofttimes it’s more sweet than tart (talking about sugar content…). Most ‘follower’ establishments have long ceased operation, though the ‘purveyors’ are still up and running. Then there’s this red velvet cake outbreak, and suddenly F&B outlets on every corner offer their version of the cake — it’s ubiquitous. Rainbow cake soon tagged along, but i don’t think it gained half as much following as red velvet’s.
[all stores i’ve tried thus far, inspired by this tumblr picture. Logos are taken from their respective FB page or official website. Gawd, this sucker took me hours to collate x_x]
Bubble tea took over the trend and stalls selling these drinks are, needless to say, everywhere. There are so many of them i’ve come to more than a dozen brands and at least a dozen more to try. It’s been a couple years since so i thought it might be in the twilight by now. Nitrogen ice cream, also boasts healthier choice over regular ice cream, has entered the market and could be the next thing… but i guess we’re still too caught up in bubble tea (and Korean food) bubble.
I’m a tea-person. I drink plain hot tea at restaurants, tho’ i also like those bottled sweet green teas, not to mention the titular tea-based drinks. However, i still don’t get the fuss. Suuure, it comes in many flavors, bases, types, and toppings that always test one’s impulse buying whenever it’s spotted, but 1) it’s just… tea. Or milk tea. 2) it’s not inexpensive — and that comes from me who’s willing to splurge on F&B. Case in point: with approximately similar serving size, it retails at around three~four times the price of a bottled tea. 3) it’s not avant-garde — Hop Hop and Quickly have been around for over a decade now; the former is more on ice-blended selections but the latter is also a Taiwanese franchise and no one’s overzealous about either.
Yes, most of these bubble tea stalls either originate from Taiwan or bear Chinese writings beside its name to make it look like a foreign teahouse brand. Being negative, aren’t i? Well, it matters not where it came from as long as it quenches my thirst (i don’t think people buy these spendy beverages for this reason anyway) and suits my palates. I’m not such a hard marker since most of their basic milk teas taste pretty much the same to me. I have my favorites from certain names and eschew certain others, but hand me any milk teas any day and a happy camper i’ll be.
[arbitrary bubble tea purchases i captured throughout the years: Each a cup’s, Presotea’s, Tea Master’s, Boba Inc’s, Dakasi’s]
If you’re wondering which store is my favorite, no beating around the bush: it’s Quickly. It may be an unpopular opinion — most people would likely name Chatime, and it is actually my least favorite — yet like a trusted old friend, i can order any of their spread and it will be drinkable. Haven’t tasted something you can’t bring yourself to gulp down? I have. Surprise surprise, it was Chatime’s Taro milk tea. It has a thick consistency and i lo~ve the color, but the taste… I can’t even. It was enough of a trauma i hitherto dare not get another cup of it from any other stall. No kidding. For the record, i did try other variants but i just didn’t really like its milk (tea). The smell was too strong.
Oh, another one was Tea Master’s Master milk alishan tea. The intriguing-looking drink. The way i remember it, the tea and the foam or frothy milk each had a ‘unique’ taste when sipped separately, which was quite okay until you blend them together. The latter ruined the former. It was the first and last time i ordered that kind of foamy drink. Blerg.
When i drop by a new name, i start from the classic milk tea or its signature drink. You gotta get the basics right first and foremost. If you like roasted tea selection, Dakasi’s Charcoal baked milk tea is my best find thus far. If you like the black pearls… uhmm, i can’t tell which one is best since i don’t really like those chewy tapioca balls — i go for grass jelly topping in most orders — but they too taste pretty much the same across the brands. Sharetea’s are the smallest and Comebuy’s the hardest, if that’s any help.
[Jasmine green tea lime, Roasted tie quan yin oolong milk tea, Brown rice green milk tea, Wintermelon lime]
But what prompted this post was this particular teahouse i’ve recently gravitated toward: Teacups. Located in Mall Taman Anggrek, it perhaps offers the widest range of tea selections. Feel free to sniff their fragrant loose teas displayed on the counter prior to ordering. Its Milk tea series is great (one topping included), but its Fresh lime series is a standout. Slightly acidic yet so refreshing! And surprise surprise, there’s a teabag in it — proof for its “freshly brewed in every cup” slogan?
The pyramid teabag was present the first time, and not the second time, so we ordered it again for the third time to ‘check’ whether or not the teabag was supposed to be ‘given’ to us. We also asked about it for good measure: yes, the teabag should come with the drink. It is such a waste to have it brewed only once though, the leaves still look so green…
Alas, Teacups’ price point is also one of the steepest, 19~21K per cup for its Classic tea series and 21~25K for any other series. Other stores now tag their milk tea selections at around 19~21K and above per cup before any topping.
Again, since the taste of their milk teas is comparable, the decisive factor will be on buyers’ preference and sellers’ competitive price and (cute) packaging — value for money. Ah yes, service too.