Bubble tea taste-off : All the contenders

Filed Under (coffee, food, local) by rinnah on 10-02-2012

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When I first came to Singapore, I observed a strange phenomenon at the place where I stay. There are many shops all selling bubble teas within the same vicinity. In fact, on a routine walk to/from the MRT station, I pass no fewer than five different shops specializing in bubble tea drinks (not counting the drink stalls at the food court).

There are many contenders for the title of best bubble tea and in the name of blog research (and pure curiosity) I tested a few of the more popular/well-known brands – Koi Cafe, Gong Cha, Chatime and Ochado. The irony is that I seldom think of buying bubble tea back home in Malaysia, but yet in Singapore, here I was, standing patiently in queue with 15 other people for bubble tea. To ensure fairness of my taste test, I ordered the same drink from all franchises – no fancy schmancy specialty teas, just plain straight up milk tea with pearls and less sugar.

koi bubble milk tea
(Erm, I have no photo for Gong Cha, Chatime and Ochado simply because I forgot to take one. #bloggerfail)

What did my not-so-epicurean tastebuds think?

Chatime’s tea seemed to be least refined (tasted like they used cheaper tea leaves to brew) of the four contenders. Ochado’s roasted tea version was the smoothest and most to my liking. Koi and Gong Cha were better than Chatime, but ultimately forgettable. Despite my order of half-sugar, Chatime was also the sweetest mix (maybe to hide the taste of cheaper tea?) and therefore got booted down to the bottom of my bubble tea list.

I can safely say that I prefer the quality and texture of Koi’s pearls (tapioca balls) overall. Gong Cha’s pearls were a wee bit rubbery, as were Chatime’s. Ochado fared slightly better due to the smaller size of their pearls and I even tried their famous pop-egg pearls (which contain coffee syrup). While I liked the concept of the pop-eggs, it was way too sweet for my liking – like taking swigs of syrup straight from the bottle.

Now, if only I could merge Ochado’s roasted milk tea with Koi’s pearls I would be one very happy bubble tea drinker. :P

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