Bubble tea or boba tea bobbled into the beverage world in the 1980s in Taiwan. Created initially as a fruit-flavored iced tea sold by street vendors, in 1983, Liu Han-Chieh added tapioca pearls to the mixture. The fan base for this beverage spread to Hong Kong, Canada, the West Coast of the United States and beyond. In 2012, McDonald's introduced it in Germany with more than 250 possible flavor combinations. Chan McTi is the "Ronald McDonald" for the boba tea menu.
This street drink of Taiwan is now part of a seasonal cold beverage program at Collective Coffee in Mount Pleasant. Intelligentsia, their coffee roaster, has created a blended chai tea mix that is sweet and gently perfumed with cinnamon. This forms the base of the bubble tea, which is infused with vanilla and spices and the "pearls" of tapioca. It's served in a glass jar with a straw whose diameter is wide enough to allow the tapioca pearls to be drawn up into your mouth.
It is low in caffeine, and the tapioca adds a gummy-bear texture to your drinking pleasure.
This novelty tea resonates with a younger audience looking for something fun. Interesting to note, bubble tea is also finding success in the U.K.
Collective Coffee hopes that fans of its iced chai latte will find favor in bubble tea as well as the curious who have heard about bubble tea but have not found a spot to try it.
Collective Coffee at 766 S. Shelmore Blvd. in Mount Pleasant is brewing bubble tea. Expect to pay $5 for 16 ounces. You can also find bubble tea at Single Smile Cafe in Summerville, Riso Noodle House in West Ashley and Chopsticks House in downtown Charleston.
"Surprising, unusual, fun"- Jessica, a customer
"Heaven, extremely delicious" - Hoagly, a customer