My watermelon bubble tea was a refreshing treat and a welcome reward after running a lot of errands in a hot car.
After receiving my second Covid shot — hurray! — picking up a CD of an X ray and buying a few groceries, I was ready for some liquid refreshment and stopped at Sonny’s Frozen Desserts in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. This was not my first time getting a bubble tea and not my first time getting a bubble tea at Sonny’s, but it was my first time with this particular flavor combination.
This was a watermelon flavored bubble tea. I asked for popping boba instead of the usual tapioca pearls, and the only flavor option for those at the time was mango. My favorite bubble tea flavor lately has been Thai tea. Thai tea is orange in color, slightly spicy and sweetened with condensed milk. It is often spiced with star anise but can also be flavored with orange blossoms or tamarind. Also, previously, every bubble tea I tried has had the tapioca pearls.
This time, I wanted the popping boba, these little bubbles (made with seaweed) that are filled with fruit juices and burst in your mouth. They seemed more refreshing and thirst quenching than the tapioca option. I then decided they would work best with a fruity flavored bubble tea.
My watermelon bubble tea reminded me, in a good way, of watermelon Jolly Ranchers. It was definitely recognizable as watermelon flavor but seemed significantly sweeter than watermelon is naturally. It was a milky tea as you can see from the photo. I was not disappointed in the popping boba. They did seem refreshing, a lot more so than tapioca would be. After the liquid disappeared from my cup, I had a big collection of boba left in it. I didn’t mind eating this alone, and, eventually, used a spoon to finish them off. Even though they were mango flavored, they didn’t seem to clash with the watermelon flavor and actually seemed to absorb some of that flavor. I was still tasting watermelon as I was getting the last bits.
Bubble tea is a trend that has been around in the U.S. for quite some time. It originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It caught on first on the West Coast of the U.S. and slowly gained popularity elsewhere. It is a mixture of tea, milk, sugar, often fruit juices and, of course, the tapioca pearls. If you haven’t yet experienced it, it may seem a little strange to you. When I first learned about it, some years back, I was curious and intrigued but wondered if I would really like sucking up chewy solids in my tea. It may take some adjustment, but I’m sure you have experienced ice cubes and probably fruit pieces or other solids in drinks before.
Each bubble tea vendor may have a different menu of flavor options. At Sonny’s, you have your choice of Thai, chai, Earl Gray, mixed green, milk, vanilla milk, almond, taro, coconut, strawberry, honeydew, watermelon, peach, mango and chocolate.