Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TCB = Them Chew Balls = boba drinks

Years ago, I remember seeing various restaurants and cafes and places where they advertised selling boba drinks. The menus would be ginormous, and I'd see people go in and order whatever and leave, and I had no clue what it really was. No one I knew at the time was really into it, at least to the point where they'd mention it or ask me if I'd had it, so I figured it was something like the shaved ice craze that had come before it. Yeah, I'd had shaved ice, but I didn't really get the excitement - it was good, but it was basically a high-end snow cone.

Cut to 2008. One of my friends would mention boba drinks periodically, and then came the occasion when boba drinks then became known as Them Chew Balls, forever after now to be nicknamed simply TCB.

When I was in her neighborhood one day, I decided to try it. The husband had had it before, so he kind of explained to me how it's ordered and such. We dropped into Aloha Boba, and he suggested that the best way to ease into it would probably be to get a slushie or a smoothie, I forget which, so I think I ordered the mango variety of one of those, with boba. The drink was pretty tasty. And it comes with a huge straw because the boba pearls have to be able to fit through them. So you're drinking liquid and periodically, you also suck in one of the balls. And then you chew them. Yeah, I know, simple. I don't really notice any particular taste associated with the boba pearls themselves. I thought it was a little weird to be drinking and then stopping periodically to chew. I enjoyed the drink but didn't really see what the fuss was about.

And then the incidiousness set in. I found myself wanting to try more boba. When I was at lunch at The Boat with a friend, she suggested having their lychee drink, which had lychee jelly in it, kinda like boba, but differently shaped. I love lychee, and the drink was very tasty indeed. That made me even more interested in boba again.

Another time after that when the husband and I were at Diamond Plaza, we went into one of the tea houses there. And I looked at the menu. And it had a ton of different drinks on it. And I was confused and rattled and frightened, and I decided it was too much to deal with, so we left without me getting a drink. Yeah, I know, I can hear you laughing. Especially YOU.

And then, I made another visit to Aloha Boba. And I read through their drink menu, and the one that caught my eye was the Almond Milk Tea, which consisted of almond, English Breakfast tea, creamer and sweetener. Mmmmm, I like almonds, and I *love* English Breakfast tea, so I ordered that with boba. The drink was YUM-MY. Here's a link with a menu that someone has put up.

Some random blog that I found includes Aloha Boba as one of the best boba places in Los Angeles. Pretty cool, even though it is a random blog. I like the little picture of the boba drink that it has at the beginning of that page as well. A few places I've been to have the domed cover, kind of like an icee, but more of the places have this thing where they hermetically seal a thin piece of plastic over the cup, and then you just poke through it with the straw, so the only opening in the plastic seal is the one you've just made with the straw, so your drink is still very protected. That's pretty cool.

I really like Aloha Boba because the people there are friendly and very nice. They also have free wifi, which the husband and I had noticed in case we have some kind of problem with our internet at home. I also like the many varieties of loose tea that they sell, but I don't think the husband is going to let me buy any more tea.

I think I'm even ready to go back to the place at Diamond Plaza that scared me enough to leave.

So, Aloha Boba is well and good, but I work on the west side of Los Angeles, so Aloha Boba isn't always very convenient. I oftentimes go to the area on Sawtelle Blvd. just north of Olympic for lunch since they have various ramen and tofu places and such. I noticed one little cafe that had tea drinks and figured they would have boba. I tried that out a couple weeks ago and was not impressed with the flavor of the tea. Disappointment.

Then yesterday, I was in the area again and noticed Volcano Tea - hey, they have TCB! They have a fairly large menu as well, but emboldened as I am now, I didn't let that scare me away. I simply took a few minutes to peruse the menu - and I ordered the almond milk tea. Hey, get what you know, right? They had the little plastic seal thing, and the tea was delicious. Their boba pearls are smaller, so they actually fit through the straw pretty good. The pearls at Aloha Boba are a bit bigger, and towards the end of the drink, the pearls are hardening from the ice and sometimes don't fit through the straw anymore, so I end up using the straw just to spear them. I am noticing that when I'm having TCB, I tend to end up finishing the liquid part before I finish the pearls, so I'll have pearls left over at the bottom of the cup that I just end up eating separately. Hmmm, I'll have to investigate and do some more experimentation to see if I'm doing this right.

Here's another page for Volcano Tea. I don't know what the deal is with their official website, but it doesn't work for me. Volcano Tea appears to be a chain as I've seen listings in other cities, though the comments for the other locations don't seem to be all that good. So now, I'm happy that I've found a location close to work where I can get my fix of TCB, though I think I'm going to have to figure out what else to order other than the almond tea. I don't generally drink a lot of things with sugar in it - I usually drink diet soda rather than regular soda, and I don't usually put sugar in my hot tea or iced tea. (That's not to say I don't get my share of sugar in other food items.) I may have to figure out if I can get the boba drinks with some kind of artificial sweetener rather than sugar - or maybe they're already using that, and I just don't know. Hmmm, more investigating and experimenting. There is one other danger about that particular Volcano Tea location. It's in the same mini-mall as a store that I found which could prove to be *very* dangerous. But that's a topic for another post.

I just had to point out that I'm loving the following sentence from the wisegeek article I included earlier.

While the idea of sweet, chewy spheres in one's drink may seem strange to the uninitiated, most newcomers to boba are pleasantly surprised.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

Just so you know: I wasn't laughing at you. I was just smiling a LOT.

Almond Milk Tea is my favorite drink at Aloha Boba. I hope that you got one of their frequent buyer cards, so that you can eventually have a free boba!