Review: Bubbleology Bubble Tea in Soho
Published 6 June 2011
It is interesting to see how trends ca rise and fall in different parts of the world, independently, and when you least expect it. Back around 2002, Bubble Tea was all the rage in Asia. Having originated in Taiwan, it quickly spread to Asian Countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.
But as quickly as Bubble Tea cafes mushroomed, they also quickly died out as the fad moved on. London was never part of the fad, being thousands of miles halfway across the world. Sure, there were a few restaurants and cafes in Chinatown serving it.
Hence, it was a surprise, for me at least, when Bubbleology (what a mouthful!) opened in Soho a few months ago. This quirky, geek-themed cafe on Rupert Street just serves one thing – bubble teas.
For the uninitiated, a traditional bubble tea is a chilled milky Chinese tea, with little tapioca “pearls” added to it that provide some texture to the drink. The straw provided are bigger than usual, and are used to suck up the tapioca balls, which are chewy but usually not flavoured.
At Bubbleology – the traditional bubble tea has come far, and is supplemented with flavoured teas, such as taro, coconut, or almond tea. There are also fruit infusions available, such as mango or strawberry. In addition, instead of having the round black balls of tapioca, you can get flavoured jelly added to your bubble tea. Lots of choices – all very exciting!
On my visit to Bubbleology on a Saturday afternoon, it was moderately full, with several people in the queue before me. It took what felt like ages to get to the front of the queue. I ordered the almond pearl tea with traditional tapioca pearls (reg: £3.25), and my partner went for the taro pearl tea with lychee jelly (large: £3.75 + 50p extra).
Both took a long time to be made – it did seem that the three staff behind the counter were quite disorganised and kept getting in each other’s way. There was also this manager in a suit just standing around there watching – I wonder if he felt it was below him to help his staff out or at least get them organised!
Nevertheless – our orders arrived – but my partner’s bubble tea didn’t have the lychee jelly! So another few minutes wait for that to be fixed.
Even with just the first sip, I was disappointed with my almond pearl tea. I think I made the wrong choice with the almond flavouring – it was very artificial like, and the texture felt too strange as it was so liquid. Normally with any sort of almond drink you expect it to be more milky. My partner’s taro pearl tea was really good though – I’m definitely getting that next time I go back.
A pearl bubble tea is definitely something unique in London, and I do recommend everyone to try it at least once. Of course, if you’re traveling to Asia soon, get the authentic stuff while over there. But these bubble tea drinks from Bubbleology aren’t that far off from the originals, and there’s some interesting combinations available too.
I hear they’re expanding and have opened a branch in Harvey Nichols – so now there are two places to get your bubble tea fix in London!
Bubbleology Bubble Tea Cafe
Address: 49 Rupert Street, Soho, London W1D 7PF
Tel: +44 207 494 4231
Opening Hours: 11am to 10pm (Mon to Thurs), 11am to 11:30pm (Fri), 11:30am to 11:30pm (Sat and Sun)