Each country I’ve lived in has some food or drink item I came to crave. So, when I think of that food or drink I think of that country. Like how eating Creamsicles and pork rinds reminds me of my childhood. (Okay, I have some southern roots and I can not recall the last time either passed my lips.) Bubble tea reminds me of Taiwan. When I left there I was sure that was the end of my bubble tea drinking days, since I hadn’t seen it before I moved to Hsinchu. As it turns out, bubble tea made it out of Asia and it seems it’s the latest creation to rival Baskin and Robbins ice-cream in the number of flavors possible. In Columbus, Ohio there are at least three places I know if that serve bubble tea-two of the businesses revolve around it. One, Bubbles Tea & Juice Company, is at the North Market, a swank boutique like eatery that stalls with various offerings ranging from organic meats to high end baked goods to ethnic foods and the other is near The Ohio State University campus.
The bubbles in bubble tea aren’t really bubbles at all but tapioca balls that are so sticky if you shoot them out of a straw at a window, they’ll stick. I have never done this but I know someone else who has. The balls are black and settle to the bottom of the glass, which in true Taiwan fashion is usually not glass but plastic. The tea is served either with milk or without and comes in different flavors: red bean, litchi, green tea melon, strawberry, you name it, someone is making it somewhere. In Taiwan you can get it cold or hot. I prefer hot myself. In the U.S., cold seems to be the temperature of choice.
Here are links to blogs and articles about Bubble Tea spots in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Houston. Read them for flavor suggestions. Where do you go for your bubble tea and which flavor do you recommend? Here’s a link to a company, Boba.us where you can buy supplies to make your own.