By Joyce Chin and Yumitra Kannan
Greetings! Today, we bring to you Echo Eats: Battle of the Bubble Teas (Part 2), experienced and written by two people on each extreme end of the Bubble Tea Consumer spectrum –
- A Boba Expert
- A Bubble Tea Noob
So we’ll start off our second round of Boba reviewing with what makes a good Bubble Tea:
Criteria 1: The milk tea, the usual go-to Bubble Tea drink for mainstream Boba drinkers, is meant to achieve a perfect balance between tea and milk. Neither component should overpower the other and it definitely should not be watered down by ice.
Criteria 2: Tapioca Pearls, once again the go-to component of Bubble Tea, has to be on-point. The chewiness of the pearls are the key here as it shouldn’t be too chewy, tiring the consumer, nor too soft, sucking the life out of the ultimate Boba experience.
Criteria 3: We’re all aspiring health freaks as much as we make significantly bad decisions when its comes to food choices which is why the standard sugar level in each Boba drink is another factor we consider when reviewing Bubble Teas around Sunway.
Criteria 4: As students, it’s important our addiction (or curiosity) for Bubble Tea shouldn’t leave a dent on our wallets (or burn a hole right through), so pricing is an important and the final criteria in the crowning of Bubble Tea King by Echo Eats.
Now let’s get started.
Introducing the contestants for this round of our Boba Review –
1) Xing Fu Tang
Tea quality: 3/5
Xin Fu Tang (XFT) is notorious for their Brown Sugar Boba Milk. However, what’s bubble tea without the tea amiright ? So we opted for the Brown Sugar Boba Milk Tea instead. Honestly, it was nothing exceptional but it was not terrible either. Moving on.
Boba texture: 4.5/5
Despite the tea being mediocre, the pearls were the star of the whole drink. Not gonna lie, XFT has some of the best boba pearls we’ve had. And we’ve tried a LOT of boba. What makes them so good is their distinctive texture; the hybrid of bouncy and chewy. While they certainly have a bite to them, they feel tender at the same time, unlike some of the jawbreakers we’ve had. Although the pearls are pretty large in size, we found them quite addictive.
Sugar level: 2/5
Hear us out. We know that some of you love sweet things, but XFT’s drinks are overwhelmingly sweet. And the downside is that the sugar levels are fixed, and given that their pearls are soaked in brown sugar syrup already, the drink as a whole is just layers and layers of sugar. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
A cup of their Brown Sugar Boba Milk Tea costs RM 11.50. Although not super pricey, the amount you get is quite little for its price.
Average score: 3/5
- Matcha Boba Milk (comes with strawberry-flavoured pearls!)
Tea quality: 3.5/5
The taste of green tea doesn’t come at you gently and doesn’t leave without an aftertaste. But that makes the Sakura Pearl Green Tea even more enjoyable. Having stricken a decent companionship with its counterpart – milk, the tea comes across as quite the wholesome choice for a long day ahead. Fashion it with your preference of ice cubes and sugar levels for a better experience.
Boba texture: 3/5
The first few mouthfuls of pearls were warm (a pleasant surprise) and came with a floral tinge to it but the more I consumed, the less impressed I was. In fact, I found the pearls to be a bit too tasteless for my liking. With a softer chewy layer on the outside and a slightly more crunchy yet equally chewy core on the inside, my introduction to these Sakura pearls just was not pleasant and it was honestly just a tiresome affair.
Sugar Level: 4/5
I chose to take only half of the regular sugar level for this drink and very quickly wished I went for the full sugar level because my sweet tooth was overwhelmed by the unexpected bitterness in the milk tea and thought the other choice would’ve been more suitable. Alas, the bitterness of the drink did make for a refreshing and out of the ordinary choice among signature Boba drinks around town and left a lasting impression.
RM 10 for a large cup of bubble tea? I’d say “okay!” Given that the upgrade from a regular drink to a large one is just RM 1(like any other Boba joint), choosing the large cup would be the smarter choice. Once you’ve explored and found your favourite drink at Chawanjia, the cost factor can be pushed to the list of pros instead of cons.
Average score: 3.5/5
- Black and White
- Rainbow Pearl Black Green Tea
Tea quality: 3/5
Their Signature Milk Tea had the standard Oolong Tea taste but there wasn’t anything particularly outstanding about it. But hey, you know what they say, you can’t go wrong with the classics.
Boba texture: 4/5
To our surprise, their pearls were quite delightful (certainly a contender for the best pearls in the game, try a little harder and XFT might start quaking). They’ve nailed the chew factor and bouncy texture. The boba pearls were submerged in a beautiful brown sugar concoction that coated each pearl with a subtle oomph of caramel.
Sugar level: 4/5
Holatea is pretty generous with their sugar level options, the cup we had was at 50% sugar level. “Perfectly balanced, as all things should be,” as Thanos would say. However, depending on your sweet-tooth, you can customize the sweetness to different levels or even opt for no sugar because the pearls are already sweet on their own.
Holatea’s Signature Milk Tea (Large) with added pearls costs RM 10. It’s not the cheapest per se, but for the large cup, we’d say it’s a pretty good deal. Plus, they have student discounts for us broke boba connoisseurs which could help you get your fix without breaking the bank.
Average Score: 3.6/5
-Fresh Fruit Tea
Tea quality: 4.5/5
Honey Golden Pearl Green Milk Tea was the drink our taste buds taste tested ⎼ it has remained one of Daboba’s signature drinks too. For tea lovers, this drink will tingle your senses with a refreshing yet fragrant green tea aroma.
Boba texture: 4.5/5
Daboba is the pioneer for Honey Golden Pearls. In our opinion, they certainly deserve the title. After so many brown sugar pearls, these boba pearls were absolutely refreshing. Compared to the normal black pearls, these tasted much more natural due to the absolutely refreshing nectarous honey.
Sugar level: 4/5
Surprisingly, the sweetness was not overbearing. The honey cuts through the milky beverage and adds that special hint of sweetness that tastes…dare i say… healthy? (it really is not as bad as regular ol’ sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, so we’ll let this statement slide)
Price: 3.5 /5
At RM 9.90 per cup, the pricing is pretty justified for the quality of the tea and all other factors considered above. Thumbs up!
Average score: 4.1/5
- Roasted Brown Sugar Pearl Fresh Milk + Cheese Topping (super rich,decadent and creamy)
5) Yum Cha
Tea quality: 3/5
Your first gulp of the Signature Golden Cha is a strong, sharp shot of black tea. However, the lingering taste of the tea after every gulp does not justify the watered down milk and cubes of ice that accompany it. The richness of both tea and undiluted milk that one expects with the name “Signature Golden Cha” was unfortunately absent. But what was noteworthy was the sole richness of the tea which would be much more enjoyable if its companions were on point as well.
Boba texture: 2.5/5
The pearls were relatively small in Yum Cha but were enough in quantity. Alas, the balance between being a chewy fantasy and a tiring battle was not struck. By the end of the drink, I was left with some pearls at the bottom of the cup with no energy to consume them.
Sugar level: 4/5
Yum Cha apparently uses natural sources for sugar and this is quite evidently shown through how the glucose does not hit you in the face with an overpowering level of sweetness. It accompanies the black tea in a classic, subtle way. Commendable!
With RM 8.00 for a regular cup, Yum Cha’s Signature Golden Cha falls on the affordable side of Bubble Teas and compensates with its aesthetically pleasing drinks and natural ingredients. However, is the price alone enough to make us want to buy a cup? Especially when the generous serving in this drink is its ice cubes.
Average score: 3.4/5
- Hot Cocoa Bo
- Gula Melaka Dirty Milk Cha
6) The Alley
Tea quality: 4/5
The Alley’s brew of tea has a fine taste to it. Upon contact, you don’t just taste a delicious balance between tea and milk but also the subtle aroma of tea leaves which leaves a pleasant impression on your palate. And surprisingly, it keeps getting better as you slurp the large cup to emptiness. Having opted for less ice, I certainly avoided any chance of being served a diluted mess and by far, this has been the most pleasant introduction to any bubble tea brand for this bubble tea noob.
Boba texture: 4.5/5
Deerioca (The Alley’s special term for their pearls) on point! Honestly, I’ve not enjoyed Tapioca Pearls as much before. With just the right amount of chewy and crunchy, The Alley strikes the right cord for my personal preference of gooey tapioca starch. What’s a pleasant surprise with these small sized, hand-made Deeriocas is the light sweetness that accompanies it.
Sugar level: 5/5
The Alley uses Sugar Cane syrup and I believe that’s the reason why a large cup of milk tea with less ice and full sugar level still delivered a delightful drink. The sweetness complimented the tea in a pleasant way and made the experience whole; fret not you health conscious lot, you can always choose to have your drink with half sugar or none at all.
RM 10.70 for a large cup of Milk Tea with less ice and added tapioca toppings? I think it’s a pretty decent deal and definitely worth the money for what’s being served. #TeamAffordableGoodBobaOverCheapSadBoba
Average score: 4/5
- Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk
- The Alley Trio Milk Tea
Nuf’ said. After much deliberation and extensive coverage via our Boba Rubrics/Criteria, we conclude that the winner of Battle of the Bubble Teas (Part 2) is…drumroll…
It was a very,very close call but nonetheless, Daboba emerges as champion with The Alley coming in at a close second and Holatea in third place.
It’s time for Daboba to take it all (our money, our abs and our dream bodies). We at Echo had lots of fun testing out Bubble Teas for you! As the curtain closes, so will our wallets. Leave a comment below and tell us if you agree with our final verdict! We’ll see you soon, a boba cleanse is due for the both of us!
Read part 1 here.