Have you tried boba tea yet? It’s also called tapioca or bubble tea. If you have read my other post, you probably know I am a little obsessed with boba tea. Sometimes I think boba tea actually runs in my blood because I am always craving for boba tea. I even made origami boba tea for my wall decor and created boba tea emoji characters.
Boba tea and I go way back. I started drinking boba tea since I was 6 years old. Back in the days, the lids were dome shaped and the only topping was boba. Nowadays, there are so many creative options making it fun but also intimidating to order a boba drink. Often times the menu is as extensive as a Chinese restaurant menu. Most people I know just order the standard milk tea with boba. There are some that will request for less sweet, but other than that, customization stops there. But if you have been in Taiwan, you will realize that
locals customize their drinks like they own the boba tea shop.
Trust me, once you customize your boba drink, you can never go back. Customizing is not only fun, you can control the calories while getting the same satisfying taste.
So first things first, select your tea. The tea and the boba are the 2 pillars of a good boba tea. Many milk tea is made with black tea unless you specify otherwise. If you like the roasted black tea flavor, try customizing a Pu-er (aged tea with earthy notes) or Tie Guan Yin (roast nutty character oolong tea) tea with milk. If you like lighter and floral tea, try jasmine green tea or osmanthus oolong. For those that need a bit of caffeine kick, matcha is the go to choice. It will keep you alert but calm for a good 3 hours. Check out this post to learn everything about matcha.
2. MILK I usually skip dairy because I like to taste the tea as is. However, if you are getting milk, you usually have the option of picking dairy or non-dairy milk. The standard non-dairy milk is made with powdered milk. It’s commonly used in Asia because many Asians are lactose intolerant. Some fancier places may offer almond or soy milk alternatives, which often taste lighter than whole milk.
3. TOPPINGS Boba is obviously the most popular topping. However, it is made with a starchy cassava root, which can easily add 200+ carbohydrate calories to to your daily diet. I highly recommend trying other toppings that are usually less filling and have less calories like the grass jelly and ai yu (goes superbly with citrusy tea). The best toppings are the house-made ones, so don’t hesitate to ask your boba-rista if they make any of the toppings in house. You can also ask for less of a topping if you like. I often ask for less boba so I have room for a proper meal later.4. SWEETNESS This can vary with different places, if in doubt, go with 50% sweetness. If you can find a boba tea shop that makes their own sugar syrup, then you hit the jackpot! Usually this means their drinks are made with high quality ingredients, no high fructose syrup and other “things”.5. ICE If you ask for no ice, be ready for the drink to be not filled to the top. If you like to drink your boba tea slowly, opt for no ice so that the drink doesn’t get too diluted over time.
So are you ready to customize your boba drink like a local? I think I am ready to order an osmanthus oolong with grass jelly, 25% sweet and no ice, thank you very much!
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