Some of the most ingenious inventions are borne out of boredom. Take boba (aka bubble tea), for example. According to legend, in the late 1980s, a Taiwanese woman poured her tapioca dessert into her tea during a meeting. Today, bubble tea is ubiquitous in Asia and is becoming more common in metro Detroit, especially with the addition of Tou and Mai, which recently opened in Midtown this past spring. Here’s a look at the beverage and a few of our favorite spots to get our fix.
Where to get bubble tea in metro Detroit
1. Tou and Mai
It’s difficult to find spots in the city proper to stock up on Asian foodstuffs such as Pocky, miso, and sushi rice. It’s also difficult to get boba tea. Not anymore. The owners of Go! Sy Thai recently opened the charming Tou and Mai, which offers sweet tea made with green tea and milk tea made with black tea. The fun part is adding a base garnish (see below for more choices). 4240 Cass Ave., Suite 102, Detroit, facebook.com/TheSweetLifeofTouandMai
2. Detroit Bubble Tea
At this Ferndale shop, you can customize your drink in three steps, which can be overwhelming since there are so many options. But the friendly staff is there to guide you. First, choose your flavor; options include traditional flavors such as strawberry, taro, and Thai tea as well as not-so-traditional such as cake batter, cinnamon bun, and cotton candy, then drink type and finally topping. 22821 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-239-1131; detroitbubbletea.com
Started by a quartet of Vietnamese sisters in California, the Bambu chain opened a Michigan outpost in Madison Heights. They specialize in chè, which means homemade beverages, dessert drinks, and pudding in Vietnamese, and also offer boba milk teas that can be customized to your liking. For when you hit the 3 p.m. wall, the Vietnamese coffee with boba and coffee jellies will perk you right back up. 30804 John R Rd., Madison Heights; drinkbambu.com
Part of the fun when it comes to drinking bubble tea is chomping on a toothsome add-in. Here are some ideas other than tapioca pearls that you can include.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the flavors, from pineapple to pandan (an herbaceous plant).
This trendy superfood is also super fun to eat. Basil seeds form a coating when immersed in water.
Made out of fruit juice, these pearls burst when you bite into it, upping the flavor of your drink.