Do you remember the summer of 2012? It was the summer of “Call Me Maybe” and McDonalds started to sell bubble tea at their McCafés in Germany and Austria. That summer, bubble tea was everywhere in the city, every skinny storefront, every empty U-Bahn shop, every former sausage stand started to sell sugary muck filled with gooey little balls. The thought seems to have been: Sure, it might only be teenage girls growing out of their Tokio Hotel phase that are lining up for the big-strawed fix now, but soon, soon they would introduce it their moms, maybe even their boyfriends, brothers, dads!
It was not to be, of course, as we’ve seen from the empty shop shells all over town; mere months after McDonalds rolled out the “Trendgetränk des Jahres”, scientists in Aachen ‘proved’ that one unnamed chain’s bubble tea contained all manner of icky toxins. Though this turned out to be an isolated incident, quickly disproved in Taiwan, the lines dissipated and teenage girls flocked to new distractions. Yet here we are, a year later, and I’m recommending a bubble tea shop in Mitte.
You see, I was once much like those teenage girls, being dragged to a place on Grand Street in New York some eight years ago, eager to try the drinking sensation that was sweeping the nation, and soon I was a convert. In the years since, I’ve enjoyed the chewy drink hot and cold, in Asia and abroad, and the purple taro milk tea has become a comfort drink of the sort that I imagine frappuccinos are for coffee drinkers—a reward after work well done or something soothing after a bad start to my day.
Come Buy, a Taiwanese chain operating in six countries, claims to sell half a million cups of such soothing tea a day. And what makes their bubble tea the best in town is that they don’t focus on the brightly chemical fruit flavors that drove the teenage traffic elsewhere. Instead, they mostly stick to actual brewed tea (not powders or syrups) to which you can add milk or a variety of chewiness (tapioca pearls, passion fruit, basil seeds!). Key is that you are asked to specify how sweet you want your beverage, how much ice you want in it; in short, they take their shit seriously and I’m very glad they stuck around even after the bubble burst.