Amongst people I know and people I’ve chatted to on Twitter, bubble tea seems to be a bit like Marmite: you have those who rave about it, those who can’t understand cold tea “with chewy bits”…and a vast number who have never tried it before.
Now, nice and centrally on Nelson Street, there’s a venue that caters for all three groups in the form of Babocha: the new bubble tea bar now open on the ground floor of Chinese restaurant Shanghai Nights. Fans of the Taiwanese drink and bubble tea virgins alike can choose from a range of both fruit and milk teas with a variety of “textures”, while those who aren’t so keen can enjoy a selection of handmade ice creams or sip on a smoothie or milkshake.
For me (definite fan – bubble tea is the one thing I break my no caffeine rule for) and the bubble tea virgin I dragged along, it was all about the tea. But how would we decide? With a choice of fruit teas or milk teas, a plethora of flavours of each and a variety of “textures” in the form of tapioca pearls or fruit juice filled “pobbles” (alginated bubbles filled with various fruit juices), how were we to decide?
The only way, in my eyes, was to ask for a recommendation – which led to me being presented with a passionfruit fruit tea with tapioca. Each bubble tea is served in a large plastic cup with a sealed plastic lid (they have a special machine that does this), and a straw wide enough to suck up any tapioca/pobbles that have been added to the drink.
It may not be the most attractive-looking drink in the world (some of them are amazingly-coloured – see their Facebook page for pictures) but it’s certainly tasty. Think slightly sweeter than an iced tea, using real fruit and with the added bonus of chewy tapioca balls (which, I admit, are an acquired taste – I have a number of friends who loathe them!) or burst-in-the-mouth pobbles filled with fruit juice. I was impressed.
Not quite as positive a review from the bubble tea virgin, who went for the matcha milk tea – again, with tapioca pearls. Matcha was probably quite a brave option to go for as a first introduction – the green tea powder is very intense and full-bodied, bitter and very vegetal at first with a hint of sweetness towards the end. I loved it and ended up finishing it off…
At £3 for the tea itself and an extra 50p for any tapioca/jelly/pobbles you wish to add, it’s on par, price-wise, with a cup of coffee at many Bristol coffee shops – and we were also lucky enough to enjoy the “2 for the price of 1” offer that was on over the opening weekend. At the time of writing, there was also talk of Babocha launching a loyalty card scheme…
As I mentioned earlier, there’s also a range of options for those who don’t fancy/don’t like bubble tea. Various fruit-flavoured smoothies are priced at £3.50 each, and there’s also the option of “virtually fat-free” frozen yoghurt (£3.50 small/£5 large) which can be served with a variety of sauces and toppings.
When I next head over, I’ll definitely be trying their ice cream! The Yee Kwan handmade ice cream (£2.50-£2.80) is sold by Babocha in a variety of flavours, from the standard (strawberry, chocolate, vanilla) to more adventurous options such as black sesame, lychee and chocolate & chilli. I had a little taste (I was intrigued…) of their wasabi ice cream while we were there, and the sweetness of the ice cream with the kick of the wasabi is an odd but strangely satisfying combination. Definitely one for me to enjoy next time!
And if those don’t appeal? Well, then try a shake (£3.50), made with either yoghurt or ice cream.
Judging by comments on Twitter when we announced the opening of Babocha early in August, the venue is going to be a hit. Nearly 20 varieties of bubble tea, shakes, frozen yoghurt, smoothies, ice cream…there’s something for everyone. A great refuelling stop with a difference for those heading to Broadmead or Cabot Circus. Recommended.
Find Babocha on the Bristol Bites Directory…