Many weeks ago I blogged about those simple little things in life that bring joy. My niece Rosie suggested bobas. Have you ever tried a boba? You really must the next time you get a chance. Often referred to as "tapioca balls" or "boba tea," it is a refreshing drink that I think originated in Taiwan. It is usually an iced sweetened tea, mixed with milk or half-and-half. In the tea are these dark brown balls, almost black, about the size of a large pea or small garbanzo bean. These balls are the "boba" or "tapioca balls", which are roughly the texture of gummy bears and sweet, but not fruit flavored like gummy bears. When you get the tea, they seal it off so it has a plastic coating on the top, kind of like the kind that comes on a yogurt or cottage cheese. They give you a straw with a large circumference, about a size 15 knitting needle. You poke the straw into the plastic and suck up the tea and bobas. It took me awhile to get used to it. Maybe about two sips. At first I thought they were creepy and clammy, like fish eyes or frog eggs. After about the third sip and chew, I started enjoying the sweet chewiness along with the icy smooth drink. By the end of the drink I was hooked. The next day, when I actually found myself craving a boba, I wondered if maybe they didn't put something in it that makes you addicted. Like the same thing they put in Starbucks coffee. How else can you explain the mass mania? I mean sure, the coffee is good, but sometimes it surprises me the lengths I will go to to procure a Starbucks coffee. Or a boba.
Boba tea houses are really interesting. They are usually very clean establishments and are like a cross between a Jamba Juice and a Starbucks. The menus are always staggering with all these different choices, most of which you don't even know what they are. But if you go, I recommend that you try a boba milk tea (basic black tea sweetened and mixed with half and half and then with the boba) or try a boba snow bubble. A snow bubble is kind of like a smoothie and come in an array of flavors, most of them fruit, but with some others like chocolate and green tea. They are very slushy and creamy like a smoothie, but there are the bobas at the bottom. I know, I know, it sounds weird. But you have to try one.
You can find them in LA and San Francisco where they are very popular. There is often a line going out the door and I notice that it is not only Asians waiting in line for their boba-fix. There is a boba place in Isla Vista, the college town near UCSB. It is an unusual place that also sells Indian food. At first I found this very strange, but the food at the Indian place is actually very tasty.
So try one next time you get the chance. Or don't. You may get hooked.