Summer is just around the corner, and whether you call it bubble tea, milk tea, boba, or some other name, it’s the perfect drink to fend off the heat!
There’s so many boba establishments nowadays that it can be hard to pick a drink, not to mention the variety of bubble tea drinks and toppings! Thankfully, establishments will have some staple products; milk tea is standard. Here I rank my top five bubble tea toppings!
1. Milk foam
I’m committing boba blasphemy for not ranking tapioca rank first, but milk foam is near and dear to my heart. Not to be confused with cheese foam, this whipped and airy topping does not taste like an explosion of cream cheese, but like a slightly cheesy, salted topping.
This is another hot take, but I enjoy milk foam because I don’t like cheese. If I enjoyed the taste of cheese, I’m sure cheese foam would top the list.
Milk foam is salty, which contrasts well with the sweetness of milk tea, and the airiness of the topping adds another layer of texture to the drink. If you’ve never tried it, I would highly recommend trying this topping (or cheese foam if you enjoy cheese)!
2. Tapioca Pearls
It should be no surprise to see tapioca pearls rank high. It’s what the ‘boba’ in boba is! If done right, the pearls should be bouncy and soft, but not slimy. The boba should be cooked evenly all throughout; no hard centres allowed here! When cooked right, the texture of chewy pearls elevates the gentle creaminess of a milk tea.
There’s many variations on pearls, but tapioca pearls are classic. There are fun variations on tapioca pearls as well, including ‘brown sugar boba.’
Boba is one of the constants in my life, though me and like-minded individuals may need to switch to an alternative soon. Whispers of a boba shortage have been going around, so get this topping while you can!
Pudding can be a contentious topping. It’s cut in large chunks and slippery without much texture.
The size of pudding is similar to the size of grass jelly, which I don’t enjoy in milk tea. Grass jelly tastes too grassy for milk tea, though it goes great with other desserts. Pudding tends to be an observer in milk tea without altering the taste of the drink itself, but adding just a bit of surprise when a large piece is suddenly sucked up the straw. Its slight sweetness and richness from the eggs land pudding in the middle of this ranking.
4. Lychee Jelly
Lychee jelly made the list because it’s a topping that’s easily accessible at home. You can get a large quantity of lychee jelly and make fruit slush yourself, and the taste of fruit slush pairs well with the chewy jelly and fruity lychee.
The only downside to lychee jelly is that its fruity taste usually clashes with milk tea, which is why this topping ranks low. Otherwise, it’s definitely a winner!
5. Red beans
This topping is usually a hit-or-miss with audiences, but I’m a fan of red beans. Though I can understand adverse reactions to this topping because of the powdery texture of the beans, it can add a subtle sweetness to a drink. The waxy outer layer of the red bean can also be a fun texture.
Red bean pairs well with sweet drinks, so a slightly bitter milk tea isn’t the drink to try it in. Try it in slush; freezing doesn’t affect the texture of red beans as negatively as it does boba!