Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Art and Science of Perfect Bubble Tea


Up until recently, unless you were planning on picking up a video from the selection of adult shops, there was no reason to walk up Rupert Street during daytime. But in April, Bubbleology opened and suddenly, there is every reason to be on the street.

From the colourful display of lab apparatus to the wacky scientific equations scribbled on the walls, the interior design is far from authentic (although they do try to redeem this by putting up magazines and books introducing customers to the Taiwanese culture). And whether it is the staff uniform (lab coats labelled Bubbleologists) or even just the size of the cafe, there is definitely something "cute" about the place.

The quirkiness and peculiarity of the cafe is what initially attracts the customers, but their bubble tea is what keeps them coming back.

Boasting to be the UK's first bubble tea specialists, Bubbleology is equipped with professional equipment to ensure that each serving is made to perfection. One thing we noticed was that the "Bubbleologist" samples a taste before sealing and selling each cup: a personal touch which is never seen in your local Starbucks, and reassures the new customers who are led through the door by curiosity.

For the newbies among you, bubble tea originated from Taiwan in the 1980s. Initially being sold from a night stall in Taichung, and gradually spreading worldwide, being served in restaurants; cafes and eventually in dedicated bubble tea stores. Bubble tea is often advertised as being fat-free and a healthier choice than your usual frappuccino; although this is somewhat true, its ingredients and especially the starchy tapioca pearls make it a calorific drink. Depending on the size of your stomach, bubble tea can sometimes be seen as more of a chewy snack than a mere beverage.

Bubbleologist at Work

From almond pearl tea to ginger red tea, to their selection of Monmouth Coffee, there is something sweet to tickle everyone's taste buds at this place. And whilst existing bubble tea cafes only offer tapioca pearls, Bubbleology offers a vast range of flavoured jellies. For me, I have always had a personal preference for the original flavour; there is nothing that can go too wrong or too right with a cup of milk tea. But Bubbleology turned out to the classic example of getting it right.

My mouth had a similar reaction to their Assam tea as the girl in the Listerine advert had to a swig of the mouthwash.

In order to confirm that I wasn't just too easily satisfied, I brought my hardest-to-please friend along one day. Her scepticism was overwhelming even whilst we were queuing. But a sip of her lilac-coloured taro bubble tea sent her quiet like a defeated child. Needless to say, she has since returned on numerous occasions.

Making the perfect cup of bubble tea is apparently all down to the quality of materials; water temperature and timing, and upon entering their science lab of a cafe, you can tell that these essential factors are taken care of. But aside from all the fun and quirkiness, Bubbleology definitely succeeds in serving a seriously convincing cup of bubble tea and at the same time, bringing a slice of authenticity to London. And judging by the queues already, this bubble tea trend is likely to spread through the UK like wildfire.

Prices at £3.25 for regular, and £3.75 for large. Other substitutes for tapioca pearls, add 50p.

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