Tea drinks, much like baths and nightmares about drowning, are always better with a few bubbles in them. Experience the brightest side of froth with today’s Groupon: for $12, you get a five-item punch card good for bubble tea, smoothies, snacks, and other treats at Tapioca Express in Berkeley (up to a $25 value).
Tapioca Express merges quality tea leaves, fresh juices, and authentic Taiwanese boba pearls to forge a slate of more than 100 drink varieties alongside sizzling Asian fusion snacks. A traditional Taiwanese treat, bubble tea is peppered with glassy balls of tapioca, which accompany each sip through an oversized straw to regale tongues with a sweet and chewy surprise more gratifying than an appointment with a gummy-bear dentist. Elixir alchemists mix authentic brews and add in creamy milk or gummy boba or leave the cups simple and unadorned to let flavors such as jasmine green tea, chocolate milk tea, or mango peek through. An icy melts over roaring tongue fires in flavors such as fresh watermelon or exotic red bean, and milk, yogurt, or soy milk join in to form a creamy Snow Bubble concoction. Meanwhile, the scents of french fries and crispy chicken twirl above authentic dishes of fried pot stickers and steamed buns, which serve as savory companions to sweets like Rainbow Brite’s surly accountant sidekick.
Tea Leaf Bistro
Since debuting in Taiwan in the 1980s, sweet tapioca pearls have traveled the world, jockeying for the title of America’s next taste sensation upon landing in California. Made of sweet potato, cassava root, and a hint of brown sugar, each pearl is soft on the outside and chewy on the inside, much like a nerf ball filled with creamy mashed potatoes. Tea Leaf Bistro captures the gems in more than 100 frosty, fruit-flavored bubble drinks and velvety milk teas—crafted from authentic ingredients imported from Taiwan and hand-selected tea leaves—in flavors such as mango, lavender, almond, and strawberry. The pearlescent bubble drinks pair with a menu of Taiwanese snacks, including garlic fried chicken, crispy calamari rings, and an assortment of potstickers.