Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Boba Alternative

I usually don't reach for flavored teas, as I prefer a pure tea taste. The one real exception to this is bubble tea. I have a huge weakness for the stuff. It's sweet and milky, with a chew from the tapioca pearl bubbles (they are called boba). It is a hugely caloric drink, and is usually packed with all sorts of artificial ingredients. I usually shy away from artificial flavors and colors, but again, the weakness. Unless you are making bubble tea from scratch, it is difficult to find it without artificial additives.

I walked past Argo Tea cafe during my lunch hour, and the siren bubble song lured me in. I've only tried Argo once before, but I had a vague memory of seeing bubble tea on the menu. They offer it in different flavors: Mango, Coconut, or Raspberry. When I'm in a bubble tea shop, I usually order the basic 'milk tea' in the hopes that I'll actually get a little tea flavor instead of a burst of fake fruit. So, I asked for just black tea and milk.
Square Boba!
Judging on looks alone, this was no ordinary bubble tea. The boba were square! The appearance reminded me more of a fruit jelly drink than bubble tea. The first sip was a little confusing- it wasn't sweet! Just cold, milky tea.  Not a bad thing, but I was expecting the jolt of sugar on my tongue. But with my next sip I picked up a few of the square boba. Wow, the boba created little bursts of sweet tea flavor. Very cool! Very unexpected. Argo's website mentions that they use Nata De Coco for their boba, instead of tapioca. It is supposedly a healthier alternative. I like that this creates chewy, but not sticky boba. You don't have to barbarically pick your teeth after each sip. I also love that you get a milk choice (2%, skim, soy), as well as tea preference (black, green, or red).

It was nice to have some control over the sweetness of the drink. If you only take a few boba along with the tea, you don't have to get the intense shot of sugar that these drinks usually have (not that I mind the sweetness, of course). It is very user friendly. This is a healthier take on bubble tea that still retains the essence of the drink. I will definitely be trying another one soon. Perhaps with a flavoring.

I have to admit, I was originally turned off by Argo tea's signage in front of the store, so much so that I haven't made an effort for another visit. I am intrigued, and will definitely be back soon. But I still don't like the sign.

Argo Tea Cafe- 1792 Broadway NY, NY 10019

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