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I vividly remember my very first bubble tea experience. I was in elementary, and my parents had just returned home from a Costco run. My siblings and I helped unload the car, lugging heavy detergent bottles and piling on top the lighter snacks. That’s when my eyes spotted something colorful with the word “Bubble” boldly written across.
My favorite childhood drink that’s perfect for a hot Hawaiian day.
My mom told me that was an ingredient used to make honeydew and strawberry bubble tea – something I had never heard of or tasted before. We went into the kitchen, and I watched as she threw the green and pink powder into the blender, along with ice and other ingredients and…VOILA! My taste buds were forever transformed, with the honeydew flavor topping my list of favorites.
This isn’t your average “tea” but rather a cold slushy concoction of milk, fruit or both! And it’s a sure way to cool you off on a hot day in Paradise. Bubble tea is most known for the marble-sized tapioca “pearls” or “boba” that sit at the bottom of your cup. Many mistakenly think bubble tea gets its name from these “bubble-shaped” pearls; however, the name comes from the little foamy bubbles that float to the top after it has been mixed.
Some fancy the tapioca pearls for their chewiness, while others appreciate their slippery texture. But I have heard from a few people that they like them for the simple pleasure of shooting them out of the straw. (Yes, the drink comes with an extra-wide straw!) Be careful not to get too excited when slurping the drink. You could accidentally suck up a pearl and choke.
Caution! Make sure to keep a watchful eye on children drinking bubble tea.
Bubble tea, originating in Taiwan, has been a favorite among Hawaii locals for more than a decade. Flavors range from more well-known ones like, honeydew, strawberry and chocolate to exclusively local ones, such as coconut, guava and mango. I guess you could say it’s one of Hawaii’s earliest “frozen treat crazes.” Today, we mostly hear about acai and frozen yogurt.
You can still find bubble tea almost anywhere in the islands, from local teahouses to coffee shops to crack seed stores. Everyone has their favorite place for this refreshing treat, so ask around. My favorite is Rainbow Crack Seed store near my house in Kaneohe. Here are a few places to get you started:
RAINBOW CRACK SEED • 45-480 Kaneohe Bay Dr., Kaneohe, HI 96744 • 808-235-5553
AYAKA BUBBLE CAFE • 474 Ena Rd., Honolulu, HI 96815 • 808-945-2737
CAMELLIA SEEDS • Queen Ka’ahumanu Center – Kahului, HI 96732 • 808-877-5714
BIG ISLAND OHANA CAFE • 179 Kilauea Ave., Hilo, HI 96720 • 808-854-7968
*We welcome Ariel with her first post to the blog! She’s currently pursuing a nursing degree but has always had a passion for writing since she was an editor at the Kamehameha High School newspaper. Awh, this makes me one proud big sister/editor!