It’s a reliably bad idea to go looking for an edible specialty of the last place you lived in your new hometown. Not only are the search results bound to be disheartening, but the whole endeavor’s unfairly dismissive of local culinary culture. At least that was my stance until Saturday, when I really wanted a coconut bubble tea.
Bubble, or boba, tea originated in late-1980s Taiwan, possibly when a teahouse staffer impulsively poured her tapioca pudding into her iced tea. Whether or not the story’s true, flavored tea with chewy tapioca balls is now slurped compulsively across East Asia and in North American cities with significant Asian populations. In Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley, an entire subculture has sprung up around boba shops.
In downtown Charleston, though, there’s only one source for bubble tea: Chopsticks House, a quick-service Chinese restaurant which got into the boba biz about 18 months ago. Continue reading