Milwaukee hasn’t been as quick to embrace bubble tea as other cities. Many locals don’t even know what this drink (also known as pearl tea, tapioca tea or boba) is, let alone where in the area to get it.
The drink traces its origins to Taiwan, where tapioca pearls made from cassava starch, a South American root vegetable, are used as a topping for desserts. The balls, called boba, sink to the bottom of the drink and need to be slurped up through extra-wide straws. Bubble tea is a sweet drink – typically a base of black or green tea mixed with sweetened milk and/or a fruit syrup such as watermelon, guava or lychee.
Where it gets more complicated is with toppings. Shops offer add-ins ranging from fruit-flavored popping boba – the term may refer to the balls or to the drink itself – to sweetened cubes of grass jelly, which despite the name is not made from grass but a plant in the mint family. There is even a mousse-like topping made from powdered cheese, whipping cream or milk and salt.
Where to Get It:
1. Asian Fusion 1609 E. North Ave.
2. Bento Xpert Eleven25 at Pabst, 1125 N. Ninth St.
3. M.Y. Bubble Tea 6300 N. 76th St.
4. SereniTea 1414 W. Wells St.
5. Xankia 222 W. Wells St.