Boba. Bubble Tea. Tapioca Pearl Milk Tea. Whatever you call it, if you have had it before, you know why the hype is real. There is something about the chewiness of perfectly cooked boba, complemented perfectly with that sweet, refreshing tea, that makes you want to drink more.
As an avid boba lover, I have dreamed about working at a boba shop for years. So, when I heard that my sister started working at a Taiwanese boba shop, I was so ecstatic. Wanting to be a boba know-it-all, I asked her about the boba secrets, so read on for the inside scoop.
1. What are the top 3 most popular drinks?
Most people order the Signature Milk Tea (aka Boba Milk Tea), which is a store's most generic milk tea with boba. That is always a go-to as it does not require you to choose from teas you didn't even know existed, and it is always delicious.
Another very popular drink is the Taro Milk Tea. If you have ever seen purple milk tea, that was most likely taro milk tea. Taro. That's a root, so this is healthy, right? Not exactly—most tea shops use taro powder, which does not have the same nutrients as fresh taro.
Either way, taro milk tea has and always will be a favorite milk tea of mine. Also, if you happen to love actual taro, not to worry; most boba shops offer taro chunks as a topping.
At this specific chain, there is this mango drink that everyone loves called the Mango Sago. It has freshly cut mango chunks and small tapioca swirled throughout the drink.
2. What are the top 3 most popular toppings?
Of course, boba is #1. This common add-on is made of tapioca and when cooked perfectly, these balls are chewy on the outside but firm on the inside. Think al dente little black balls
Coming in as the second most commonly ordered topping is egg pudding. Just fyi, egg pudding is like flan but without the caramel taste. If you haven't tried it before, add egg pudding to your must try boba list.
Falling very closely behind is herbal grass jelly. Don't let the weird black-green coloring and name of this add-on fool you. The texture is like that of Jell-O and, although it is called herbal grass jelly, it does not actually taste like herbs or grass. Instead, it just has a slightly sweet taste and no real potent flavoring.
3. How often do you make fresh boba?
At legit milk tea stores, fresh boba is made whenever there is a need for it. Specifically at this boba shop, boba is cooked every hour or so, depending on the flow of customers.
4. What happens to leftover boba at the end of the day?
I have heard horror stories that boba is cooked in bulk and stored for days until a store runs out or the boba goes bad. Luckily, boba stores discard boba at the end of the day. So don't you worry, day old boba is not a thing.
5. Do most customers personalize everything?
Customers usually either trust the boba shop to create the perfect blend of tea and toppings (which they should, in my opinion) or just forget they can customize drinks unless they are explicitly asked what sweetness or ice levels they want. However, people regularly change or add toppings.
6. Why can't you customize some drinks?
Some drinks are not customizable sweetness wise because the drinks use flavored syrup for the sweetness. If there's no sugar, then there's no flavored syrup and the drink will have no flavor.
Ice-wise, drinks may not be customizable because the recipe makes just enough to fill the cup with standard ice. Therefore, if you get a slushie, which calls for blended ice and juice, not only will the texture be off, but your drink will not fill the cup. So, both the lack of sweetness or ice customization are ultimately for the better.
7. What is the best part of working at a boba shop?
Understanding what goes into each type of drink is one of the best parts of working at a boba store. It's so fascinating to see how different beverages, even though they are all based off of tea, taste so different. Deciding which drink suits people after knowing their preferences is also always exciting.
What surprised me the most from this tell all was that the boba is freshly made every hour. That's a lot of boba being made and consumed. Overall, my sister loved her experience as a tea maker. Sure, there are always those picky customers, but come on, being around boba all day, that's the dream.