To me, bubble tea is daily beverage that I never get bored of. Originated in Taiwan in the eighties, “pearl milk tea” has taken both Asia and North America by storm. I am not surprised to see these teashop franchise putting down roots in the Chinese-populated city of Toronto.
After having congee in Chinatown, my Asian friends and I decided to check out Chatime. When it comes to bubble tea, I am not an expert. Yet, I am DAMN picky.
Frankly, I can’t name the top Bubble tea place in Toronto. But I heard good things about Chatime. So I decided to give it a try.
The moment I walked into the store, I instantly had this nostalgic feeling. “I see Asian people!” I whispered. That’s how you know it’s legit. I walked towards the counter and was bewildered by the number of flavours they offered.
Seriously, not even Starbucks can top that! I nudged my Taiwanese friend and asked what she recommended. “Stick with the green leaf!” She urged. I glanced over the top left section and my eyes travelled to the price. “R and L?” I scratched my head and tried to figure out why the price varied between R and L. I nudged my friend and asked, “What is that? Right and Left?”
And everyone broke into laughter. Even the cashier smirked while taking another person’s order.
“Ya. If you hold the cup with your left hand, that’s extra 50c!” she chuckled.
I rolled my eyes and walked towards the cashier. I ordered original milk tea with tapioca. The cashier asked indifferently, “What size?” I said Regular. She inserted my order in the computer and looked up through her buddy holly glasses. “How do you like it? Sugar?”
Oh my god, here comes the coffee ordering nightmare. I breathed, “Mm. Regular.”
She squinted and asked, “3, 5, or 7?”
Huh? What’s that? Why did she ask me that? Is that a math question or something? I looked over to my left to see if my friend was there. Holy she already left me with her bubble tea. I panicked and slowly turned my head back to the cashier. Damn it, she’s still waiting my answer. I weakly replied, “15?” She squinted her eyes even more and looked so confused. She diligently asked me again.
I answered, “4.5?”
I think she’s loosing it. She glanced over to the people behind me and simply responded, “HOW SWEET DO YOU WANT?” Oh. I replied confidently, “Regular.”
1 minute later, I finally got my milk tea bubble tea. Later, I sat down with my friends and asked them about the number thing. They kindly explained to me how the customizing bubble tea works. I thought it’s some kinda Asian morse code or something. Turn out that 3, 5 and 7 are the level of sweetness the customers prefer. WOW, how am I supposed to know that?
To be honest, despite the complicated ordering system, the bubble tea that I ordered was absolutely delicious. I like it because of its hidden sweetness and the silky texture. Most importantly, it’s beyond any powdered tea you have tasted. I’m so gonna visit it again!