Bubble Tea/Boba Tea/Pearl Milk Tea is the staple drink of the Richmond Hill Asian, who lives among some of the best and most reknowned bubble tea shops in the GTA. Every Richmond Hill Asian recalls the pure childish glee of finally acquiring one such drink after getting an A; recalls this sipping this delicious drink with their high-school sweetheart during the dog days of summer; and into adulthood, still actively searches for the holy grail of a well-made bubble tea that’s also dirt cheap.
In its ideal state, bubble tea should be sweet, but not too sweet; Asians are more interested in the flavour that the drink claims to be. They want to taste the real tangy passionfruit behind a passionfruit green tea with tapioca. Though usually made from powder, the drink should not taste like such. And most importantly, the tapioca should be both juicy and chewy, not overly boiled. There was a time when bubble tea places did not charge an extra 50-80c for tapioca.
One of the first “great” bubble tea shops opened in First Markham Place, located in the neighbouring Markham. Richmond Hill Asians will fondly remember driving to that crowded mall just to buy a $2.50 drink from Tasty House, the OG bubble tea place. It’s still there in the food court today, competing against 7+ other bubble tea stands scattered in the same vicinity and throughout the mall. But take a good look, and you’ll know Tasty House is still THE bubble place. Maybe it’s the Asian-friendly price; maybe it’s the continuous line-up of people there; maybe it’s the store’s ability to stand the test of time, avoiding bankruptcy while its neighbours continually closed down or changed hands.
From the humble origins of a food-court stand, bubble tea in Richmond Hill slowly evolved to encompass lavish tea houses with complete sit-in meals a la Tenren and Go for Tea.
Although Chatime recently opened in Richmond Hill (and many Asians, among other races, consider it to be THE holy grail of bubble tea), a real Richmond Hill Asian knows where it’s at and will still drop into Tasty House for the OG bubble tea from time to time. Although the love and appreciation for bubble tea has extended to people of all races, regions, and so forth, Richmond Hill (and neighbouring Markham) Asians are more spoiled than their multicultural brethren, having consumed bubble tea of the Tasty House calibre since early childhood. As a result, R-Hill Asians are usually more snobby in regards to the texture, pricing, and preparation of bubble tea. Most have an innate, bartender-like knowledge of which flavours to mix and match, and have memorized which store contains the best deals, flavours, and mixtures. Drink bubble tea with a R-Hill Asian for their educational know-how, but be wary if the same Asian tries to stamp YOUR purchase into their free drinks stamp card!
A few tips from the humble R-Hill Asian of average bubble tea knowledge:
1) Tenren, Go for Tea, Destiny’s… places that serve bubble tea with food will often rip you off, charging exorbitant prices for food and calling you to pay tip for severely lackluster service. Get Chattime instead and go to a friend’s house.
2) Bases: Milk and black tea go together; green tea’s on its own. The former tends to go better with “milkier” flavours like coconut, taro, strawberry, mango, or anything sour that you’d like to neutralize. The latter goes well with things like passionfruit and kiwi. Get honey if you can.