Bobae Coffee and Tea is a bubble tea shop to not only go for a treat, but to experience. It sits quietly between a beauty supply shop and a chocolate store in an unassuming strip mall in downtown Woodinville. But don’t let looks deceive you.
What is Bubble Tea?
First of all, what is bubble tea? Originating in Taiwan, it’s a drink traditionally made with black tea, sugar and milk. The bubbles (aka pearls or boba) are tapioca balls about the size of blueberries. The bubbles have no nutritional value but add a fun texture in your mouth as you drink your milk tea. There are endless variants to a bubble tea drink: different flavored teas, different types of boba, added fruits, coffee instead of tea, hot/cold/blended, more/less sugar and ice…pretty much anything you can think of.
Bobae Coffee and Tea
Bobae is a special shop for many reasons. To start, everything on their menu is carefully thought out: freshly brewed high-grade teas, locally roasted coffee, fresh-squeezed lemonade, locally sourced milk, housemade lavender syrup and exclusive matcha from a small farm in Japan. Their motto is “Farm to Straw”; you won’t find powdered or artificial flavors here!
Bobae is also the first bubble tea shop to “nitro” their tea (what?!) The nitro option gives the drink a smoother, airier texture not found in other teas.
Another unique thing about Bobae’s menu is its rotating flavors. Besides having a standard, reliable menu, they also concoct a rotating monthly creative menu that is exclusive only that month — so if you miss out you’ve missed out! For example, in February they featured romantic floral-themed drinks like the Sakura and Cosmic Rose. In March, they focused on the azuki red bean and whisked you away to big Asian cities with Tokyo Express-o, Hong Kong Summer and A Night in Macau. You’ve gotta follow their Instagram @bobaeusa to stay on top of their ever-changing menu.
It is also important to follow their Instagram so you can be the first to know when they release their limited monthly boba-filled donuts. You heard that right: boba donuts! No one else does this, either. Again, their flavors change every month, usually in line with their creative menu drinks. However, they are only available two days a month. A box of six must be preordered a week prior to the release dates or you can take your chances and order singles day-of. Once they’re gone though, they’re gone.
Design Your Happiness
Now about the Bobae experience. From the moment you walk in the door you are greeted with a warm smile. They ask if you have ever been in before. If not, they will lovingly give you a rundown of who they are, what they do, and gladly help pick out the right drink for you. “Design Your Happiness” in three easy steps:
1) Choose your drink
2) Choose your sweetness
3) Add toppings
When you pick up your order from the counter they will give you a mini exposition about your drink, like explaining what flavor notes to expect. This makes you feel like you are about to drink something really special and helps you appreciate your drink that much more. If you ordered the ceremonial matcha they will do the matcha pour with you.
As you walk away with your drink, already on cloud nine knowing you have something exceptional in your hand, you’ll notice the sticker on your cup has a little love note like, “You rock!” or “We <3 you!” Bobae doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to details and you shouldn’t miss a chance to visit this experience cafe ASAP.
Photos: Bobae USA, Tabitha Bailar.