If you know me, you know I love bubble tea. It’s the Starbucks of the Asian-American community. I grew up indulging in this drink. My mom introduced me to it. I remember my mom would occasionally take my sisters and I to Oasis in Chinatown and order 3-4 drinks for us to share. She'd always order the classic taro and strawberry milk tea. It was always a treat and still is in my adult life. The only differences is that now, I buy it for myself, there are waaaay more bbt cafes, and it’s a whole hype. I mean, I recall when in middle school, one of my classes walked down to Chinatown for a field trip, and I had one of my non-Asian friends try bbt for the first time. She could not understand the texture of the boba and thought it was the grossest thing. It is slimyyyyy. And chewy. And back then, pretty bland. Fast forward 13 years, bbt is now BOOMING and is a trend.
As a Seattle native, I’ve witnessed the evolution of the city, which naturally involves a sudden growth of bubble tea cafes to match the population growth and diversity. There are now soooo many that exist — chains and independent stores alike. Now that I’m funemployed, I’ve made it a mission to visit as many as possible...mostly the independent ones because let’s be honest, they need the love. I might order from a chain here or there — just to fully live out my bbt joy, but will try to focus on lesser known ones. I promise none of this is sponsored. It’s for fun! And because bbt gets me through tough times...like being laid off.
Since bbt has SO much sugar, I need to watch myself. I will limit myself to 1 bbt drink a week (max), so new additions to this blog will be added overtime. And to keep it consistent (you know...reduce variables 🤓), I’m gonna order the “Signature drink” from every cafe with the same amount of sugar and ice where possible. Follow oolong!
Cafes on my list
Don’t Yell At Me
Mai Chi Lin
Ding Tea (chain)
Signature Milk Tea - $3.75
Boba - $0.55
25% sugar, normal ice, regular size
Ok, I know I said I'd stay away from chains, but I was already in the U-District and decided to check out Ding Tea since I'd never been 🙈. Ding Tea is a Taiwanese chain, but not as widely known in the Seattle area as others like Sharetea and Kung Fu Tea.
My take: 8/10 rating
Ding Tea had a bit of a wait (15 mins post order) because they had to prepare the tapioca pearls (aka "boba"). Bubble tea isn’t bubble tea without the boba, so we opting into waiting. I was a bit surprised when I saw the drink because the boba was golden brown instead of black. I wasn’t sure if it’s because I had waited too long and perhaps the boba lost its color...so I asked why it’s brown and indeed, that’s how it just is! My guess is that the tapioca is house made. The first sip of the drink was perfect — not overly sweet, just the right coldness, obvious classic milk tea flavor, and perfect chewiness from the boba. The boba wasn’t bland. It was a tiny bit sweet, which was perfect to balance the lessened sugar of the drink. I wish the drink had more boba and the milk tea flavor was a tad bit more potent.
I've always been a very curious and reflective person, and this blog serves as place for me to track and share some of those thoughts. Lately, I've been sharing more about travel, so follow along if you're interested in learning tips & tricks or just want inspo.