- Matthew Schniper
With something like 200 locations worldwide, Kung Fu Tea feels about as pre-packaged as the drinks they’re handing over the counter, fresh out of a machine that seals the lid with a wrap you pierce with a bubble-tea straw. Which is to say the outfit smacks modern, tidy, organized, efficient and actually quite stylish, in every aspect from decor and packaging designs to creatively conceived drinks.
It’s my first time to visit one, so I step out of line to study the menu, and ask the cashier a slew of questions before I decide on a couple items. Some ingredients are new to me (fun!) and I learn several drinks don’t allow for substitutions (like regular dairy instead of Lactaid). Although, by contrast, drinks can be customized by the type of boba used, as well as ice and sweetness level (a welcome option for those not desiring a sugar bomb).
I take a recommended yogurt orange juice featuring Yakult probiotic drink, to which I add Nata jelly — a cube-shaped boba made with pineapple-flavored coconut pulp. It lands somewhere in a realm close to an Orange Julius, refreshing and a little frothy. Next, my sesame matcha beverage comes with black boba (dark tapioca pearls) and tastes totally unexpected and interesting, approaching a savory drink. The first punch of flavor tastes like toasted sesame oil bound for a wok, and black sesame seeds float at the top of the sea-green infusion. It middles with the bitter, powdered green tea essence and finishes a touch sweet, quite enjoyable.