When my sis first told me about the recent craze over bubble tea on our local shores, I scoffed at the idea of yet another food fad that Singaporeans are so fond of. “I don’t like bubble tea” was what I proclaimed to her. But weirdly enough, I found myself doing a taste test at not just one, but two bubble tea stores recently. And was surprisingly pleased to find that they are not as horrible as I thought they would be!
First up, KOI Cafe—the hottest bubble tea store in town now. It’s a popular chain store from Taiwan and perhaps, the Taiwanese’s version of Starbucks with more than 300 outlets in the country.
And because it’s so popular that there are always long queues, KOI uses a numbering system that works very well. You order, pay, get a number and wait for your drinks, easy-peasy.
My favourite is the Ai-Yu (愛玉) Iced Tea ($3.50), which wins lots of brownie points from me for being so refreshing, with a very light and palatable citrus aftertaste. Another good bet is KOI’s signature—Bubble Milk Green Tea ($2.40), which is very smooth and fragrant. Next time though, I’ll just ask for no pearls cuz the amount of black pearls is seriously too generous (almost half a cup)! I know there are many people who like those tapioca balls cuz they are chewy, starchy and nice to munch on—exactly the same reasons why I don’t like them.
Like KOI, Gong Cha also originates from Taiwan and each has their own loyal fans.
Gong Cha Ali Shan Milk Tea ($2.40) is their signature and what sets it apart from KOI’s version is that frothy milk is added on top after the tea is brewed instead of blending it together. The result is a creamier texture that lingers in the mouth which I’m not too crazy about.
Though no sugar is added, I find the Korean Citron Jelly with Konnyaku Jelly ($2.90) too sweet cuz of the candied peels.
The best out of the lot is Lemon Juice with White Pearl & Ai-Yu Jelly ($3.40)! Bitter, sweet and sour all in one sip. And I’m particularly partial towards Ai-Yu jelly =)
I like my tea to be bitter without any sugar masking the real fragrance of the tea leaves so what I like most about both stores is that I can choose the level of sweetness for my tea (0%, 30%, 50% and so on). These 2 stores look like they are here to stay, at least for awhile. Hopefully, they don’t expand at a “too fast, too furious” rate and neglect QC for the bottom line.