Originally created in Taiwan, bubble tea has become hugely popular in the UK during recent years. If you wander around central London (particularly around Oxford Street and Chinatown), it's very likely that you'll bump into someone holding a transparent cup of this delicious drink: this isn't surprising since literally every street in the West End has at least one bubble tea cafe.
Although bubble tea is still quite hard to find outside central London, Boba Bar has rectified this by opening up in Hampstead. Finchley Road may seem like an unusual location for a bubble tea bar, but its varied menu and Instagrammable decor (which you'd usually associate with cafes in Chelsea and Notting Hill) has proven to be a hit with local teenagers and bubble tea enthusiasts so far. The grass-covered bar and walls lined with puffins will make you feel like you're in a tropical destination rather than a busy city.
When I visited Boba Bar a few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by the number of drinks available. The menu is quite varied and ranges from classic fruit and milk tea to smoothies to more indulgent boba shakes. While the boba shakes did sound rather tempting, the honeydew melon fruit tea on the specials list caught my eye, so I decided to go for that. As I was allowed two toppings, I chose mango jelly and peach popping balls. I definitely made the right decision – the honeydew melon tea was absolutely divine and authentic, and the toppings were tasty too: the mango jelly was soft and slightly chewy, and when I bit into the popping balls, sweet liquid oozed out.
Opening a new business just before a pandemic must be tough, but it seems that Boba Bar has done an excellent job. The staff are all really friendly and provide superb customer service. If that wasn't enough to tempt you to try bubble tea from Boba Bar, it's worth pointing out that the baristas use recyclable straws and 5% of the profits are donated to African villages to build water wells. Boba Bar is also participating in the #EatOutToHelpOut scheme, where you can get a 50% discount from Monday to Wednesday throughout August.
With Boba Bar being easy to reach by foot from my house, there's no doubt that I'll be returning, very soon. Maybe I'll try one of the boba shakes…