I have a few weaknesses for sweet things. Not many, but a few.
Custard tarts, cherries, chocolate, peaches. And bubble tea.
For the uninitiated, this is a Taiwanese drink that has bubbles – chewy tapioca pearls in the bottom. They’re sweet, and slightly addictive. For me (when I’m not on a restricted training diet) bubble tea is my drink of choice with sushi at some restaurants.
And that’s how it’s stayed. There have been a couple of bubble tea stands around, but even I have to admit that Chatime is a whole other ball, or boba, game.
Chatime is one of the biggest chains in the world. Starting in Taiwan, over the last ten years it’s grown across the world, into Canada and America and now in Manchester – in a little corner of China Town.
And when myself and Emma popped by for a visit, it’s clear it’s already proving very popular. A steady stream of customers came in to take advantage of their range of fruit, black and green teas and the associated bubbles – or even herb and coconut jellies.
The menu is much more comprehensive than I’ve seen before, fruit teas, milk teas, green and black teas, new jellies, mousses and teapresso. I couldn’t wait to dive in, as there were so many I haven’t tried!
Emma picked one perfect for summer, the peach black tea, with coconut jelly. Chilled, sweet, refreshing, the coconut jelly had a texture that reminded me of tinned pineapple – it’s very hard to describe, but was almost softly crunchy.
I went for a milk – the Chatime roasted milk tea, with both grass jelly and the tapioca pearls. It’s a roasted green tea (unlike those made in Vietnam which tend to be black) and it takes away the bitterness of the green tea, leaving it much more palatable, sweet, milky and slightly biscuity. The jelly was surprisingly good and it’s herbal flavours went really well with the tea. Definitely one to have again.
For our second sample, Emma went for the green lychee with tapioca pearls – a little less sweet than the peach tea, and definitely her favourite.
My second tea was the brown rice green milk tea – thought to be a bit of an acquired taste, it’s proving very popular in Manchester, and I can see why. It’s almost like a cereal rinsed milk, biscuity, malty, and sweet. Possibly my favourite so far – and I’ve tried a lot!
What I really love is that everything is customisable. You can pick what topping you have – pearls, mousse, jelly (I might need to try rainbow jelly), how much ice and, more importantly, how much sugar. The drinks are sweet, as are the jellies and pearls, so if dosing down the sugar is better for you, then simply ask, and the reverse is true too.
With plenty of space, lots of sockets and usb ports if you need to work, and open til 10pm, this might just be student and freelancer paradise.
All I know is, I need more tea.
With thanks to Nicholas for letting us sample some great tea and for a look around. I can’t wait to head back for more.