Bubble tea was a big thing when I was in high school, but it took me a while and the influence of friends’ obsession with the drink to get me hooked onto the drink back in 2002. Its appearance makes you somewhat wary of how great it could actually taste. I like my sweetened milk tea, but to have black balls on the bottom of your tea that you’re meant to enjoy? I’m not an adventurous person and the sight of my mum chewing on a tapioca pearl and spitting it back out again definitely ruined my opinion of great it can actually taste. Once I got hooked on it though, I was getting one from the local bubble tea shop in Hong Kong at least twice a week, before or after class, during the weekends when I visited my grandparents at the weekends, or when I worked near a bubble tea store, we got one for lunch to go with our meals. In Edinburgh, there are a few restaurants that offer bubble tea, but the quality and taste of them doesn’t really satisfy my pernickety taste buds. Now there’s hope in the name of The Rice Bubble!
Just to give a little background on the drink, bubble tea originally got its name, not because of the tapioca pearls on the bottom, but because of the frothy bubbles that appear at the top of the drink. The tea is put into a cocktail shaker with the sweetened milk tea and ice until it’s been well shaken before it’s poured on top of the tapioca pearls which are already put at the bottom of the cup.
Bubble tea originates in the 1980’s from Taiwan when workers would enjoy a refreshing fruity tea drink after work. From the first fruity addition, they decided to experiment adding tapioca balls into the cups. Bubble tea, as we know it, is a tea-based drink infused with fruit or milk containing small tapioca balls floating in the bottom.
…The tea is creamy and sweet and is flavoured depending on the fruit you select. Each drink has chewy tapioca pearls coated in a sweetened sauce sitting in the base of the cup and the peals are said to have the texture of a gummy sweet
Bubble tea ready to burst onto Edinburgh’s cafe scene, STV
Tapioca pearls, £2.11 from Amazon UK
Especially when bought ready prepared in different flavours, it’s a great experience. The last time I had proper bubble tea apart from the one I had when I was in London for the weekend was 2 years ago when I was last back in Hong Kong. Finding a great bubble tea shop that specialises in the drink instead of just a drink they make on the side in addition to a range of food here is something Edinburgh needs. I couldn’t be happier when my friend told me a bubble tea store was opening near the Mosque Kitchen restaurant on South Bridge, but then I read the article on STV about The Rice Bubble’s market stall on Castle Street, and I knew I had to get one RIGHT NOW!
I finally got my classic original cup last night, but I must admit with the cold weather, it wasn’t really ideal going for a cold cup of bubble tea at this time of year. I admit that I was slightly disappointed it wasn’t prepared the way I was used to and there was quite a lot of ice in my cup, so much so that when the hot tea was poured in the cup and the sugar syrup poured in later, that it was already quite watery in the beginning, then I started to mix it a bit better and it became almost too sweet before it got watery all over again. My OH got the almond bubble tea and it was shaken (not stirred) in the cocktail shaker and he enjoyed it a bit better than mine which was mixed with a straw in the cup. In this weather though, you’re probably better off enjoying the rice pudding to keep you warm!
On another note, the Christmas market on Princes Street Gardens is now open, so browse around the German Market as well as the Christmas market for local and international goodies! The Edinburgh’s Christmas season opened on 22nd November and will be on Princes Street Gardens almost everyday (excluding certain days) until 5 January 2014. Check the programme for more details.