Pearl tea, or bubble tea, or tapioca tea is hot or iced tea of various flavors with little balls of gelatin at the bottom. Yes, you drink this. Or, you eat this. Well, you both. The first time I tried pearl tea was when I moved to Northern California about 11 years ago. I thought it was the freakiest thing, and the big looming question I had in my mind was a simple "Why?!"
Why oh why would anybody see fit to add little balls of gelatin to a drink? Why would anyone want to chew while they're trying to drink?! I can't even remember the second time I tried it, and what drove me to do that after such a haunting initial experience. I don't remember how that happened or if it was at that point that my opinion of the whole thing changed. But at some point a switch flipped in my mind and I decided that yes! I DO need more gelatin in my diet. I DO like to chew while I drink. Anything requiring this size of straw is a-okay in my book!
It's hard to describe. But yes, it's a tasty experience and one I would recommend.
The only thing is that I always order the exact same thing. Depending on which of two big tapioca chains I'm at, I order either iced green milk tea or iced jasmine green milk tea with pearls, small ones in they have them. But the menus at both of these places are expansive. Take, for example, the offerings of Tapioca Express, one of which is located just two doors from my new work branch. That gigantor list of drinks doesn't even mention all the different jelly options. In addition to gelatin pearls, there are about 15 different kinds of things you can decide to having floating at the top or kicking it at the bottom of your tea.
Today's New Activity: Changing Up the Pearl Tea Order
I've mentioned before (in fact this whole blog started with the mention of this) that I've been the kind of person who likes to go with the tried and true. I don't like to have disappointing food and drink experiences, so when I find something I like, I generally go with it for all time.
Or I *was* that type of person anyway.
Today I decided to branch out and I ordered pudding milk tea with coffee jellies instead. I expect that you'll glean absolutely nothing from the below picture, but I'm putting it there anyway, just because I can.
I've gotta admit that while I've so far found that my new experiences were enlightening and repeatable, I can not say so for this one. The tea was actually just regular iced black milk tea with big globs of jelly-like pudding floating in it. I liked that okay...the texture was an acquired taste but the flavor was good. The coffee jellies, however, were not-so-good. They were really small and too hard. Waaayyy, too much chewing on the chew-to-drink-ratio. The little bit of coffee flavor the jellies added to the tea was good, however, so after I let it sit for a while I did drink the tea.
I would like to try other menu offerings, perhaps some of the frosty drinks when summer hits, but for next time I'm going back to the usual order, if only to overwrite the memory of tiny bits of coffee-flavor jelly stuck in my teeth. :P