IT’S BUBBLE TEA REIMAGINED.
Appropriately named the “Boba Teashake”, the World’s Most Expensive Bubble Tea project seeks to “make the ordinary, extraordinary.” On June 22, Franck Desplechin, executive chef at The St. Regis San Francisco, will present the Boba Teashake at San Francisco Design Week.
Bubble tea, also known as “boba”, “PMT”, and “BBT”, is a common beverage of Taiwanese origin that first appeared in the 1980s, of which chewy tapioca pearls are poured into a glass of iced, sweetened tea. Today, although the drink has gained popularity around the world, oftentimes the ingredients used are not of the highest standard—from low quality tea using non-dairy creamers, corn syrups, and the dust and fannings of the tea leaf to powdered and artificial flavors—which has tarnished the drink’s reputation in certain markets.
“With this project, we asked ourselves, ‘How would we reimagine bubble tea with unlimited resources and time?’” says TEALEAVES CEO Lana Sutherland. “The World’s Most Expensive Bubble Tea project isn’t about masking the ordinary with diamond-encrusted straws and gold chalices, but is a challenge for us all to elevate expectations, quality, and the standards of ingredients and techniques, using bubble tea as an example—to ‘shake up the status quo’ and ‘question everything’. Creating the World’s Most Expensive Bubble Tea is not an end destination, but a forever-aspiration. It’s about craftsmanship in the art of tea and culinary, and the never-ending pursuit of perfection.”
To serve as the tea base for the Boba Teashake, TEALEAVES’ Master Blenders created a Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea blend of whole tea leaves blended specifically for ice, using an approach completely different than that for hot tea. As a beverage cools, its aroma has less impact on the overall intensity of the palate, so the color and taste of the blend were amplified to provide the best experience for the senses. Indian, Chinese, and Ceylon black tea were blended with the natural oils of lychee and passionfruit for a delicate aroma, even over ice. When ice is immediately added to typical hot black teas, a natural reaction occurs where microscopic air bubbles emerge due to the tea’s low pH levels and clouding of the beverage occurs. The Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea blend was created carefully in small batches by hand while examining the tea’s acidity so it can withstand cold temperatures when “shocked” with ice to reduce the chance of cloudiness. The overarching goal is to achieve a clear liquor reminiscent of scotch on the rocks.
After months of tastings and experimentation, the TEALEAVES x The St. Regis San Francisco World’s Most Expensive Bubble Tea blend, Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea Black, is available for $23.95 USD/100g.
“When creating the Boba Teashake, the Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea blend was prepared with proper infusion times and temperature to achieve the best expression of taste and nuanced flavor, while preventing the over-extraction of bitter tannins typically found in regular, over-steeped bubble tea,” says Executive Chef Franck Desplechin of The St. Regis San Francisco. “We infused the tapioca pearls with TEALEAVES Mountain Berry herbal blend to add an extra dimension of taste and texture, and paired it with a passionfruit coulis, sea salt caramel foam, and fleur de sel. The name of the Boba Teashake is an homage to the technique of using a cocktail shaker to create the signature bubbles and cool the beverage, instead of the typical method of letting ice melt inside, which dilutes the flavor. We wanted to unearth bubble tea’s true potential by using the highest quality ingredients and five-star culinary techniques to create something unforgettably delicious.”