The cure for the generic coffee shop
As I’m writing this, a deep craving for those squidgy tea-soaked balls has gripped me. It’s a shame (more than that, it’s an itch) as I don’t know any bubble tea places outside the Chinatown vicinity, and the 15-something tube stops to get there just isn’t appealing on this cold, rain-drippy day. My go-to place for bubble tea is Boba Jam, a kitsch purple bubble tea outlet on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Bubble tea is a fairly recent addition to world cuisine, originating in Taiwan, and consisting of jellylike spheres in a milky tea or juice. Boba Jam does a wide variety of both kinds, using bases including coconut, honeydew, mango, and strawberry milk, as well as the more traditional matcha green tea and red bean. The bubbles (or boba) themselves are made of either tapioca or sago pearls, which are gummy and deliciously chewy in texture.
Bubble tea is served either in a glass to slurp on-site, or in a plastic container which is machine sealed with plastic cellophane. A wide straw is used to drink the tea, which ensures mouthfuls of both tea and boba pearls. It’s quite a giggle-inducing feeling, when you take that first pull and feel the jelly spheres slipping into your mouth when all you really expect is tea.
As well as these refreshing beverages, Boba Jam serves desserts ranging from the familiar waffles, sundeas, and pancakes, through to thick wedges of toast topped with fruity, creamy bits and bobs, to the more unusual. One such dessert is Taho, a traditional Filipino snack made of shavings of jellied tofu topped with spongy pearls of sago. Ours also comes with a scoop of matcha green tea ice cream with sticky syrup, and is a very happy bowl indeed.
Complete with a karaoke booth and endless drinks flavours, Boba Jam is as fun and carefree as it looks, and I love it to absolute smithereens. I wish they would stop opening more of the tedious, generic coffee shops with soulless beverages and dirt-cakes, and give us more Boba Jam originality. Service is friendly, average price per person is £10.
Tube: Leicester Square