By Meredith Sheftel |
As the summer season quickly approaches, so does the heat. Ice cream has always been an antidote to the hot weather, but now there’s a new way to cool off: the iced, gummy-filled beverage called bubble tea.
This Taiwanese tea-based drink created in the 1980s, is rapidly gaining popularity in the Two River area. With its unique combination of tea and gummies, the cold drink, popular for years in Asian communities, is fast becoming a local favorite, thanks to its availability at a number of area locations.
Bubble tea, also called pearl milk tea or boba tea, is a tea drink tea that can be customized with milk, sugar, flavoring and “pearls,” flavorless balls of tapioca often called “boba.” Contrary to popular belief, the tea does not get its name from the pearls but from the frothy bubbles that form on the top of the drink when the tea and flavoring are mixed together.
While the tapioca pearls are spherical, rectangular-shaped fruit jellies are another option to add to the tea. By choosing the flavoring and additions, customers have many ways to customize the drink to suit their taste.
Win Lee of JJ Delicacies in Red Bank said mango green tea is the most popular flavor at their eatery. They use specialized bubble tea equipment, including a bubble tea mixer and cup sealer to make the refreshing beverage.
The tea and any milk and flavoring is put in a bottle and placed into a machine that shakes the mixture like a cocktail at a very fast speed. Another machine seals the cup with a thin film of plastic that can then be punctured with a special straw wide enough to suck up the pearls and jellies along with the tea.
Rebecca Pellicano, owner of t•spoon in Red Bank says they pride themselves on freshly brewing each of their teas.
T•spoon gives customers three different ways of flavoring the tea: using fresh fruit, syrup or powder. There are around 28 different syrup selections alone to choose from; blue raspberry, passion fruit and watermelon are their most popular flavors.
There are also different ways of customizing the boba. The fresh-cooked tapioca pearls can be served plain or infused with fruit juice and wrapped in flavorless seaweed. This type of boba is called “bursting boba” because the pearls pop when eaten. Bursting boba can also be used as a topping for ice cream.
Bubble tea is said to be more popular with the younger generation, but the drink is meant to be enjoyed by all. Pellicano said at t•spoon the mango tea with bursting passion fruit boba is most popular with the over 20-year-old customers while the younger customers seems to enjoy the blue raspberry boba.
“Bubble tea is a unique experience,” said Pellicano, one you can use to beat the heat this summer.
This article first appeared in the June 28 – July 5, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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