Nephew of Taiwanese Bubble Tea Maker Brings Boba to Charleston

boba

jessaax

Tapioca fans may be impatiently awaiting the opening of Terry Hung’s downtown bubble tea shop, but Hung’s relatives are even more anxious for Tapio to start serving soon.

“Our whole family, they’re pretty superstitious, and they’d like to make sure we open before the New Year,” Hung says.

Hung wouldn’t reveal the exact date which his relatives have selected as the most auspicious day for Tapio to open its doors, but says “we’re pushing as fast as we can.”

Although Hung and his brother were raised in Atlantic City, N.J., Hung’s extended family is still in Taiwan, where his aunt runs a bubble, or boba, tea shop. Bubble tea — a late-1980s Taiwanese invention which may have evolved from a teahouse staffer spontaneously pouring rice pudding into her iced tea — is a highly competitive business in Taiwan, but Hung says his aunt’s edge is correctly-cooked tapioca balls. Continue reading

Boba Tea Spotted in Summerville

jessaax

jessaax

My recent post about the difficulties of finding bubble tea in downtown Charleston drew plenty of sympathetic e-mails from fellow boba tea drinkers. But my latest correspondent had a lead on where to find a quality version of the souped-up beverage: “Summerville, of all places,” she writes.

According to Phillis Mair, Single Smile Cafe is serving bubble tea with all the fixings: “They have popping beads, jelly and traditional chewy tapioca,” she reports.

Mair and her husband started searching for bubble tea after first trying the drink in Atlanta, and the Singe Smile version so satisfies their cravings that they’ll now plan day trips around a boba run.

Since the Single Smile tip’s just a few hours old, I haven’t yet had the chance to make good on it. But I’d love to know if other boba fans are equally smitten with what’s served at Single Smile. In the meantime, I was thrilled this weekend to discover that McCrady’s makes a cocktail with St. Germain boba: The gin drink‘s a tad pricier than the average tea shop slurp, but it’s marvelous.

Chopsticks House Succeeds as City’s Only Bubble Tea Outpost

bobamenuIt’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