Bubble Tea Tests and Reviews


My personal reviews and opinions of various bubble tea flavors and products.  I've tried to avoid anything repackaged (like in shiny mylar bags), private-labelled or thinly available to US markets, and I have a strong preference for Taiwanese over mainland China manufacture.  As 3-in-1 products are usually the worst value (creamer and sugar shipped from Taiwan) I've been slow to review them, but some are quite reasonable, finely-crafted products.

General notes

Some of the products are so surprisingly bad they must have never been tested (on humans).  Test everything and if you don't love it, don't sell it!  I'm still amazed by operators who sell product they know is bad.  "Wow, this banana bubble tea tastes like crap, why do you sell it?"  "I know, but some people want banana."  Maybe if you work in an airport or county fair and don't ever expect to see the customer again maybe this is an effective strategy for business development, otherwise you are a fool.

In my experience most bubble tea powders really aren't that good.  What can you expect?  They need to be shelf stable & cheap.  (How cheap?  About $5/kg.)  My personal interest is in doing a good Taro and a good Lychee.  I've found a Lychee concentrate that is cheap, stable, and blows any powder out of the water and I've found several very good Taro powders.  I've noticed that Taro powders are very oxygen sensitive, it's important to find fresh ones and store them in airtight containers.  But in summary, if you need a Bubble Tea Powder, the Neptune Ice (BobaMate) product is overwhelmingly the best powdered product I've tested.

What is "X powder" when listed as an ingredient?  It's not what you might think, say, ground up X.  Coconut powder, taro powder, etc, aren't those things ground up and powdered, it's a neutral base (say, glucose, whey, etc) with flavoring (artificial or natural) applied. The same applies to "X juice" when listed as an ingredient, the translations for the technical ingredient terms simply aren't that precise.  My Trojan "Passion Fruit Juice" lists "passion fruit juice" as the third ingredient, you can bet that "juice" is a cocktail of fillers, sweeteners, artificial and natural flavors and may or may not contain any actual passion fruit juice.

If you use an all-in-one (3-in-one) mix you are mostly paying to ship creamer and sugar.

1 fl oz = 2 US Tablespoons = 15 cc

Feel free to write me, krellboy <at> gmail <dot> com

Bolle

  • Lychee Juice
    Not awful but the Trojan is significantly better.

  • Mango Juice
    OK, the mango notes are weak but no off flavors.

  • Green Apple Juice
    Satisfactory if you like green apple..

  • Passion Fruit Juice
    Flavorful, bright and fruity, unfortunately doesn't taste anything like passion fruit.


Possmei/Trojan


Taiwanese manufacture. Possmei/Trojan make the best Lychee (syrup) I've found so far. 

Their syrups are widely available and of decent quality, their powders are AIO and in general I don't recommend AIO because you can't adjust them (most of theirs are too weak).

See The Great 2011 DEHP Plasticizer Food Scare of Taiwan.  Their products are safe now (if they haven't been sitting around for a year).

"Popping Boba"


These aren't so great.  Not recommended.


"Concentrated Juices" (flavored syrups)
these are in 2.2L jugs

  • Kiwi
    Nothing like Kiwi, artificial tasting.

  • Litchi
    Good, you'd need an actual juice, jam or concentrate to do better.

  • Peach
    Not entirely repulsive but not very peach-like either.

  • Passion Fruit
    Very Good, captures true passion fruit flavors.

  • Strawberry
    Better than Peach, but pretty bad.

  • Mango
    Not terrible, but the Bolle is much better.




Powder

Note: The powders all appear to be AIO and the flavors are a little weak, you may (and I did) have difficultly in adjusting the product to taste.

AIO instructions:
Cold: 2 oz powder w/hot water, add 1/2 cup water and 1 cup ice
Hot: 2 oz powder in 16 oz water
Frozen: 2 oz powder, 1/2 cup water or milk, 1 cup ice, blend


  • Coconut Powder - PURE  (not a bubble tea, just a drink ingredient)
    Very strong and true coconut flavor, but has a soapy aftertaste to me.



  • Coconut
    Same true coconut flavor (& problems) as powder above w/bubble tea creamer & sugar.

  • Red Bean
    Good, although not very strongly flavored.

  • Green Apple
    Passable, but not very green apple-like, slightly candyish. Compare to the excellent Glace.
  • Mango
    Good, has some surprisingly natural mango notes, but flavor is a bit weak.

  • Papaya
    I'd be hard pressed to identify this as papaya, candy/artificial flavor.

  • Pineapple
    Not very true, but not awful either.   Slight candy/artificial flavor.  Compare to the excellent Neptune Ice.

  • Strawberry
    Awful.

  • Black Milk Tea
    Most are much, much better.

  • Taro
    Not a bad taro at all.
  • Honeydew
    Very good for a powder, bright melon notes. Maybe equal to or better than the Neptune Ice.

  • Jasmine Green Tea
    The only Possmei powder I didn't consider weak.  Not awful, but the artificial Jasmine is overpowering.


Lollicup (Tea Zone)

Powders and Fruit Syrups
Direct sales: www.lollicupstore.com

Powder


  • Honeydew Powder (NEW & IMPROVED, white label)
    Really awful.

  • Honeydew Powder (Original, green label)
    Not bad, 2nd only to neptune ice.

  • Taro Powder (Original, Orange Tea Zone bag)
    OK, add more sweetener.

Syrup



Neptune Ice

Brand US Site: www.neptuneice.com
Direct Sales: www.bubbleteasupply.com

Appears to be BobaMate product.

They do have some funny ideas about their powders.  This is from their website (quoted for editorial and review purposes)...

Bubble Tea Question
Is there any sugar in the flavored powder?
Bubble Tea Answer

The flavored powder is mostly made from crushed natural fruit and a bit of non-dairy creamer and sugar. The non-dairy creamer and sugar is added to the natural fruit powder to help prevent the powder from clumping. However, Bubble Tea Supply makes sure that during the manufacturing of its flavored powders, the flavor is the most important ingredient to create a natural and vibrant taste for customer satisfaction. Please note that creamer and sweetener still needs to be added to the flavored powder to make the perfect bubble tea drink.

The chance that there is any "crushed natural fruit" in their powders is near zero.  The chance that they are mostly made from "crushed natural fruit" is zero.  We are talking "liar liar pants on fire" here, not just marketing hyperbole.


Powder


Basic use (16 oz):  1 scoop powder, 1 scoop creamer, 1 scoop sweetener, 3/4 cup water, 1 cup ice


  • Almond
    I would call this Orgeat.  Very good but people might not be expecting the taste.

  • Banana
    Bad.

  • Black Milk Tea
    Pretty good, but compare Glace which both tastes more milky (not more creamy) and has much more tea flavor.

  • Blue Hawaii
    Not good.  Bubblegumish.

  • Chocolate
    OK, but you could do better with your own cocoa or other mix.

  • Coconut
    True tasting but a little weak.

  • Green Apple
    Poor.  Chemical taste.

  • Guava
    Not terrible, but the flavor is very weak.

  • Honeydew
    The best honeydew.

  • Lychee
    Mostly the scent, but makes a great drink. I made mine with tea.

  • Mango
    Borderline, but mayber about the best mango you are going to get.  Just a hint of natural flavor.

  • Orange
    Another creamsicle-ish flavor, not quite on target but OK.

  • Pineapple
    Explosively true pineapple flavor!

  • Raspberry
    Very true flavor, but a little weak, just use more?

  • Strawberry
    An artificial, creamsicle-ish flavor but still mostly OK.

  • Taro
    Good Taro, a little sweet.

  • Watermelon
    Awful.  Funny aftertaste.

  • White Chocolate
    Hideous.

Syrup

Bruce & Clark

Brand US Site: www.bruceandclark.com
Direct Sales: www.bubbleteastore.com

Prices: CFP: $11/lb, SFP: $11/lb

Cream Flavored Powder

'Cream Flavored Powder' on BTD

Basic use (16 oz): 2 T CFP, 2 T creamer, 2 fl oz simple syrup, 3/4 cup water, 1 cup ice, 2 fl oz tea (opt)

  • Lychee Cream Flavored Powder
    Not so great, creamer flavor seemed dominant.

  • Taro Cream Flavored Powder
    Not bad, but the neptune ice is much, much better.

  • Refined Creamer Powder
    Nothing special.

Sour Flavored Powder

'Sour Flavored Powder' on BTD

Basic use (16 oz): 2 T SFP, 2 fl oz simple syrup, 3/4 cup water, 1 cup ice, 2 fl oz tea (opt)


All-In-One (1-Step) Mixes


Their AIO mixes taste exactly the same as the CFP base with sugar, creamer and (maybe) a powdered tea.

All-In-One-1-Step-Mixes on BTD

Basic use (16 oz): 2-3 oz AIO powder, 6-8 fl oz water, add ice to 16 oz mark, blend


Flavored Syrups

'Bubble Tea Flavored Syrup' on BTD

Basic use (16 oz): 1-2 oz FS, 2 fl oz simple syrup (???), 3/4 cup water, 1 cup ice, 2 fl oz tea (opt)



IBC ZENfreeze (MOCAFE)

Brand US Site: www.mocafe.net

Powder (an all-in-one mix)


Supplied me with a 48cc (1.5 oz) scoop.

INGREDIENTS: Sugar, Non-dairy creamer, nonfat dry milk, natural flavors
Blended 16oz: 6oz water (or tea or milk), 2 scoops mix, 12oz ice
Shaken 16oz: 8oz liquid, 2 scoops mix, 12 oz ice

  • Fruit Latte Mix - Honeydew
    Not good, not really awful.

  • Fruit Latte Mix - Plum
    I wouldn't be able to identify this as plum, noticeable jello/artificial flavor.

  • Fruit Latte Mix - Starfruit
    Nothing like starfruit.  I'd be hard pressed to distinguish it from vanilla.

  • Fruit Latte Mix - Taro
    OK, but not immediately evocative of natural taro. Quite different than the neptune ice.


Glace

Brand US site: www.glacelatte.com
Direct sales: store.buyboba.com

Might be Spice Village product.

Powder (an all-in-one mix)

Supplied me with a 70cc scoop, but are product directions for a 60cc (2 oz) scoop?

'Glace Latte All-In-One Powder' on BTD
  • Taro
    A candyish, artificial Taro.

  • Honeydew
    Weak honeydew flavor, same soapy taste as watermelon.

  • Mango
    Candy/artificialish, probably only usable if you added some real mango.

  • Cantaloupe
    Weakish fruit flavor was masked by strong creamer notes.

  • Watermelon
    OK watermelon flavor, but product had a distinct soapy taste.

  • Sour Green Apple
    This was actually quite good (made it as a slushie), I ate the whole thing.  Will be buying more.

  • Black Milk Tea
    Milky, I liked this one, but the flavor is strictly Liptons Instant, don't try to pass this off as real tea.


Tapioca King

US corp site:  www.tapiocaking.com

Might be Baolai product.

Powder


  • Taro
    Good, but not quite as good as neptune ice which has a more multidimensional, real taste.



Bubble Tea Canada

These are all the same company, varying prices, I'd suggest trying the bottom 2 sites.



A few words on Sealing Machines


These of course aren't designed to seal bubble tea cups, they are made to seal things like yogurt and ramen bowls.  There are two manufacturers of any consequence in the market, Yi-Fang and Eton.  Yi-Fang is the real deal (about $1000 in the US), Eton is the Harbor Freight (about $250) version. For fun I own a Eton ET-A8 and despite cutting just about every corner you possible could to make it at cheap as possible, it's still a serviceable unit, I just wouldn't put one in a shop.  Last week I visited a new bubble tea shop in Redmond, WA that bought 2 ET-A8's as their sealers (they also had them mis-threaded and the supply reel tension wrong) and I guess they are happy enough, but the cost of getting a "real" sealer is so negligible compared to setting up a new shop, why would you?



Good Wholesale Resources  (large qty only)

There are 100's of bubble tea suppliers, here are a few good tested ones.

Good source for sealing machines (qty), cups & machines.  Haven't tested their powders and syrups yet.

BobaMate
One of the best powders I have tested.

Join Join/For Star
Tapioca Pearls

Everything, very helpful and knowledgeable in export.



Copyright (C) 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.  May not be used or reproduced, in whole or part, without permission.
krellboy <AT> gmail.com



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