Bubble tea has been around since the 1980s in Taiwan and is fast becoming part of popular British-Asian culture too. There are many variations, and the Chatime menu boasts most of the classics with a few modern additions. Similar to an iced tea but with more choices on flavours and textures – definitely one to try this summer.
What is bubble tea?
Known as hunhan tea, pearl milk tea or boba milk tea, the Taiwanese tea-based drink was invented in Taichung and has since become a global phenomenon. It’s known as bubble tea because of the foam created when the tea is shaken. The term bubble also connects to one of the most common toppings, chewy tapioca balls nicknamed bōbà. The balls are also known as pearls, especially when they are smaller in size and these are the types used in Chatime’s blends.
The more classic blends contain a tea base mixed with milk, however, many of the ice-blended versions are usually mixed with fruit, or syrup. The better toppings for these drinks are fruit pieces or jelly pieces flavoured to match the base blend.
What does Chatime offer?
Chatime has 12 tea blends, 63 variations and 8 toppings, leading to an infinite number of possible combinations. The core tea blends include: Black Tea, Jasmine Green Tea, Brown Rice Green Tea, Roasted Tea, Oolong Tea, Sakura Sencha, Gyokuro Genmaicha, Oriental Beauty, Alishan Jin Syuan Tea, Anxi Tieguanyin Tea and Chrysanthemum Pu-Er. Toppings include: Pearl, Grass Jelly, Pudding, Red Bean, Coconut Jelly, Coffee Jelly, Rainbow Jelly, Aloe Vera and QQ. Each drink can be made to your taste or you can order one of the recommended combinations. You can even choose the level of ice and the level of sugar added to your beverage.
What did we think?
Here at Tasting Britain we tried a selection of the recommended flavours that the Chatime team picked out for us. The ‘Peach Green Tea‘ with Pearl was fresh and a flavour sensation, the perfect thirst-quencher for a hot summer’s day! This had the essence of a traditional iced tea, but it was much fruitier and juicy, which in my eyes was far more satisfying. I found the pearl balls a bit odd in this one though and actually think it would be far better just with fruit. The ‘Lychee Black Tea‘ wasn’t refreshing in the way of the other fruity one. It has a drier taste, as lychee generally does and the black tea is a strongly taste than the green tea. Again, we weren’t big fans of the jelly in this and liked the drink better without it. Perhaps it’s something more suited to Asian palettes? My favourite was ‘Chatime Milk Tea with Pearl‘. Never before have I enjoyed cold milky tea in this way, it embodies everything you look for in a classic cuppa but with a twist – the pearl tapioca bubbles. Initially I found this the most bizzare experience, sucking up a chewy ball through a straw, but once you get into it, you realise that the subtle, creamy tapioca taste matches perfectly with the milky blend.
In summary: the teas have far more flavour than most British blends, but a few of the toppings were a bit outside of our comfort zone. Ask the team in-store to help make recommendations on your preferences and if it’s the first time you’ve ordered bubble tea, definitely stick with a pre-chosen combo or you’ll be way out of your depth.
Where can I find them?
Chatime had four store in London and one in Nottingham.
For more information on locations, menus, best sellers and more, check out the website here.