Tea..with and without bubbles

As they say in England, would you like “a cuppa“?

Traditional afternoon tea is always a treat.  Both Katie and Jackie had friends from CT visit in the past week, and tea was always on the “menu”. 

Katie met up with her friend Sarah at The Connaught, a beautiful traditional hotel in Mayfair.  Tea was served in the lovely conservatory with tiered towers of finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts.  We each ordered our jam a la carte with yummy offerings such as Figgy Rum and Pear Vanilla.

One week later, Jackie was ensconced with her friend Bridget in a cozy corner booth at Brown’s Hotel, another venerable Mayfair institution.  We all enjoyed another  tiered tower of tasty treats.

These wonderful mother/daughter outings are reminiscent of Old World traditions.  However, we live in a Brave New World in which the invitation to enjoy “a cuppa” is being replaced by the desire to slurp “a sippa“.

Bubble Tea is the latest craze among teenagers.

We have the Taiwanese to thank for this tea creation.  As the rest of the world was solving by Rubiks Cubes and recording new romantic mix-tapes for friends in the 1980s, tea tipplers in Taiwan were busy chewing and slurping this new tea craze.   The promotional materials for the Bubbleology store explain that:

Bubble Tea is the name given to the wide variety of  flavored fruit teas and milk teas served ice cold or piping hot with chewy natural tapioca balls or flavor bubbles that you suck up through a big fat straw! Yum!

Or “Yuck!” if you are a middle aged person with any taste buds whatsoever.

Boba balls

The tapioca balls are ephemistically referred to as “Pearls”.  I sampled one and found it to be less like a precious pearl and more like a disgusting pulp, chewy like a bad mussel with a synthetic sweet taste.  The flavor balls are referred to “Boba”.  They look like fluorescent colored salmon roe.  These balls pop in your mouth, emitting a strong sweet flavor burst, kind of like Bubble Yum (that gum from the ’80s stuffed with liquid flavors that squirted out with each chew).

Again, “Yuck!”

At each store, the bubbleologists are outfitted in serious scientific white lab coats.  After all, it’s not a drink, it’s a science!

These bubble barristas create the customized teas by measuring ingredients in bright beakers and then vigorously shaking them up in high- tech mixing machines to achieve small floating bubbles, hence creating the Bubble Tea effect.

The barrista analogy is apt;  tea is to Bubbleology as coffee is to Starbucks.  Just as one may purchase a “iced half-caf double skinny caramel black eyed misto with extra foam”….one can order a “kumquat green tea with mango and strawberry boba and ginger pearls on ice”.   Do I even need to say it again?…


Having dipped my dainty spoon in the Old and my fat straw in the New World traditions, I’ll stick to ye olde English version…

…hold the bubbles.  Add the scones.

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