Gather round children. I'm about to let you in on a secret pleasure of mine...bordering on an obsession. It's not quite there yet, but it's brewing, so to speak.
It all started off innocently enough back in the wintertime when two parents at Tali's violin school were drinking a foreign beverage. "What's that?" I ask. They explain in far too much detail for me to recall, words sticking out such as taro, cassava root, black tea, tapioca balls - the last bit I remember, "bubble tea". They boasted of its energizing quality and smiled enthusiastically about its taste. They then pointed me in the direction - a certain Chinese Bakery on Main Street in Flushing, Queens where I could procure the drink.
Off we went in search of. The first stop landed us in a Chinese Bakery but when I asked what type of tea they served - they offered up a Lipton. No thanks, says I but lean in a bit conspiratorially and ask "Say, where can I get a bubble tea?"
"Oh bubba tea!" they say enthusiastically and point me in the direction of a Tea Shop on the opposite side, corner. Off I go and sure enough go into what seems to be the mecca of Bubble Tea .
After I place my order and wait, my very own Bubble Tea arrives. The first sip goes down a little hard, with a tapioca ball catching in my throat. With each sip, the flavor becomes less foreign, the chewy tapioca balls less...chewy. I enjoyed the drink but was not abandoning Starbucks any time soon.
Springtime comes and I stop by to get another Bubble tea which Tali and I laugh sounds like it's being pronounced "bubba tea" which actually isn't far off I've come to learn. I'm really enjoying this - just the refreshment the afternoon calls for.
I find myself thinking of bubble tea and wondering when the next time is I'll be in the neighborhood. Last weekend seemed to be a good time. I hit the spot at around 11:30 am, get out of my car, feed the meter and walk up - what's this? Closed? It's almost noon! Back into my car. I decide to check out another possible purveyor of bubble tea, closer to home. Park, get out - what's this? Relocated to 80-02 Roosevelt Avenue!? That's out of my way! I feel a bead of sweat forming and tell myself I could go home now without a bubble tea and be just fine. Instead I walk around the block to the last possible location that I know of. Score! There in all its lovely Asian minimalist aesthetic is a new Bubble tea shop! I go in and order, trying not to appear too anxious, casually asking about how long they've been here as they begin to make my tea (all the while muttering under my breath..."come on, you're not going to Taiwan for the bubbles, let's go man"). On the surface I am cool as I get handed the tea and good wishes for my day. I turn for the straw the size of a garden hose and head for my car.
I sip, it's not as good as the original bubble tea place from which I originally scored. Not bad - just not as good.
It's a little out of my way, but I'll drop by tomorrow on my way home to see if the original tea shop is open for business again. My worst nightmare is that the Board of Health has shuttered the place, although there seems no evidence of that.
Just the same, I'll ask around the neighborhood to see what I can find out.
Do yourselves a favor - don't have a bubble tea. No good can come of it.