As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I couldn’t have imagined the grasp that bubble/boba tea would have on the American consciousness as it does now. HBubble tea(or boba) is not just popular amongst the costal cities, but even amongst the greater rust belt, deep south or even Des Moines, Iowa one can find a cup of satisfying, milky, goodness. We can definitively say – boba has arrived.
In the Bay Area, boba shop grand openings are as ubiquitous as 49ers losses – which is to say, pretty much expected every week. To stay competitive in the crowded Bay Area market, boba shops have resorted to importing trends and concepts from our very progressive cousins back in Asia. We’ve seen trends such as cheese tea and specialty boba cups that have made its way over stateside. God knows I’ve single-handedly supported the Fremont Happy Lemon by filling up an entire punch card in three days with their damn delicious cheese tea. Damn you Happy Lemon, damn you.
In this exciting and ever changing world, we’ve spotted the next big boba trend that will surely make its way over here to the US.
The Rise of Fresh Milk Boba
If the thought of boba without tea is like getting burger without fries then the hottest trend in Taiwan and Hong Kong is bound to throw you into a tizzy. In fall of 2017, while the rest of Taiwan was coming off an unexplained love for green mung bean paste desserts, fresh milk boba became a thing and propelled itself to the forefront of Taiwan’s beverage culture. All around Taiwan, shops were jumping into the frenzy, launching and relaunching their own version of fresh milk boba. From Tainan, Taichung and Taipei, countless number of boba shops seemingly sprang up overnight all serving the exact the thing.
Fresh milk boba, or more specifically brown sugar fresh milk boba (黑糖珍珠鮮奶) contains absolutely no tea. From afar, we might ask what is boba without tea? Well I’ll tell you what it is – frickin heaven thats what.
Instead of just pouring tea into a plain plastic cup and throwing some tapioca pearls into it. This new age boba drink has gone galactic on us by taking things one step further. The inside of the cup is smeared with this wonderfully sinful, but uber delicious roasted brown sugar syrup. The fresh milk is then added into the cup so that it picks up on the brown sugar syrup creating this frothy, milky drink that is akin to essentially, caramel milk. When you throw in the boba that has been basking in brown sugar syrup for hours on end, you have this drink that I’ve fallen madly in love with the first time it touched my lips.
The best part is the white and brown colors mix together so effortlessly you’ll surely pick up a few followers on your account in no time.
With so many options, where do you turn to?
In this author’s opinion, the place to know for fresh milk boba is Tiger Sugar老虎堂. Tiger Sugar has been aggressively expanding outside of Taiwan into Hong Kong,Singapore, China and other parts of Asia. At each spot, wait time of two/three hours are not uncommon, even after the thrill of the grand opening has subsided. In fact, even when Hong Kong was hit by the strongest storm of the year in Typhoon Mangkhut, that had gusting winds over 150 mph, people still lined up beforehand to grab a cup before they headed indoors.
If people are putting their lives on the line you know its got to be good.
What Now? What if I am not in Asia?
Until Tiger Sugar decides to make its way here to the US, we’ve found one place that serves high quality fresh milk boba. Meet Fresh is a great alternative if you are looking to try it for yourself and you aren’t looking to make a weekend trip out to Asia. They currently have a buy one get one free promotion so your butt out to one of the Bay Area locations before this great deal goes by the wayside. For others living in Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Plano, Manhattan and Chapel Hill(woah!) you have Meet Fresh within your vicinity. Plus, its only a matter of time before we see a million copycats start cropping up.
If you are in Taipei, check out either Tiger Sugar or Kebuke to get your fix. That is not to say there isn’t other boba shops that serves brown sugar fresh milk tea all around the city, these are just our picks.
For a video explanation, click below.