It’s week 23 of my eating at every food stall at Norwich Market, this expedition was to Thai Bubble Tea. They specialise in, it’s no surprise to note, bubble tea which first became rather on-trend in the UK during 2021 and 2022, with many shops popping up.
The menu board which seems clear, although I must admit that these drinks are somewhat alien to me. However, nothing ventured and nothing gained with there being plenty of choice. Indeed, one of the advantages with this arrangement is the variety that can be offered in a single drink, something which might encourage customers to return. As I understand, the drink has a tea base which is then mixed with milk and a little ice, with the popping balls then added.
The stall isn’t entirely logically laid out as food service is from the other side only despite menu boards being located on all sides. I didn’t realise this, although then another customer told me as she said she’d found out the hard way. James went around to order for us whilst I reserved the seating, but better signage might prevent the confusion. I’m not sure that James knew what he was doing either, but the team member was helpful and patient, guiding him through the ordering process.
I’m sure that there was almost some alchemy going on here, with so many ingredients around the place.
Not really knowing what I was doing, I ordered the banana milk tea, but I was asked what popping balls I wanted in it and so I went for blueberry without realising I had a choice.
James went for a waffle and the bit I tried seemed to taste fine, although I think he had hoped for something slightly more decadent and rich in flavour. What was evident at this stage was the long delays in service, with the sole team member having taken 19 minutes to serve this.
29 minutes after ordering, my drink arrived. I felt sorry for the sole team member as she seemed to be managing things efficiently and remembering who had ordered what. I wasn’t in any great hurry, but I think some sort of warning of service times might have been useful as this is by far the longest we’ve waited at any market stall.
But, onto the drink. It’s an odd experience as I’ve never had bubble tea before, but the little bubbles (which are more precisely known as tapioca balls) at the bottom go shooting up the straw and they then burst. In terms of adding texture and innovation to a drink I found them rather appealing and the rest of the drink was just a tasty banana milkshake. The drink cost £4.50 and they accepted card purchases.
James was worried about choking on the popping balls and then promptly nearly did as we walked back, adding to everyone’s amusement, or perhaps it would be better to say bemusement. I will say that as soon as there’s no liquid left, they do become more of a challenge to deal with. It’s fair to say that these drinks should be consumed carefully by children or irresponsible adults, preferably under the supervision of a responsible adult.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience but thought that that the service time was excessive for a market stall where no warning was given of the potential wait. I liked the engagement of the team member and she was working hard, although ideally there would have been someone to help here. The stall was clean throughout and everything seemed organised, with the atmosphere feeling inviting and warm. It’s not necessarily something that I’d rush to again, but I enjoyed the experience and it’s worth trying at least once.