Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Taro Milk Teas from Chai-Yo

We all get random cravings.  I eat a wide variety of foods, snacks, and drinks and any given day, so really strong random desires for things are not actually very common for me.  But when they hit, they hit hard.

And today, I woke up desperately needing a taro milk tea.  I wanted it cold and iced, and I wanted boba.  The closest option, Out The Door, was a definite no, given how much I really disliked the last one I had there.  I considered going back to Miss Saigon, for their taro boba smoothie, that I claimed was even better than regular milk tea, since it was like a taro-boba-milkshake.  But I decided I wanted the classic.  I certainly could have returned to Quickly, as I've always enjoyed my taro teas from there.

But instead, I decided to be adventurous, and seek out a new location.  I also decided to play with more new technology.  Paypal and Eat24 have partnered to allow you to order online through Eat24, embedded in a Paypal app, and the payment obviously goes through Paypal.  I gave it a try.

It worked ... ok.  The Paypal app crashed several times while I was trying to complete more order, but luckily it saved most of my state.  In the special comments section, it converted all of my words to starting With Capital Letters, Which Made Me Feel Very Obnoxious.  But besides that, it was easy to browse the menu and order in advance.  It did make me miss GoPago though, as that app worked much better (unfortunately, shut down in San Francisco for some legal reasons).

I enjoyed my drink the first time, and returned a second time.  Since I just got my drinks togo, I didn't stay in the restaurant, but it was small and the food looked good.  I'd like to return sometime for an actual meal.
Taro Milk Tea, Iced, with Jelly.  $3.50.
They offer milk tea, aka, "flavored tea with non-dairy creamer", in a variety of flavors.  I obviously went for taro.  It is available hot or cold. Since I had a very specific craving on my first visit, I got it cold.  But those were all of the options.  Flavor, temperature.  No mention of boba.  Uh oh!

So I did what any good researcher does, and pulled up the full menu on the Eat24 website, rather than the Eat24-in-Paypal app.  There it said,  "Add Free Jelly, in any drink for free. Request it, in the special instructions!"

Phew.  It wasn't boba, but jelly would do the trick!

I arrived before the drink was ready, so I got to see her mix it up.  Made with a taro flavored powder, which I expected.  Well mixed, delivered to me nice and frothy.  It only had a few tiny ice cubes however, so I did ask to have more added.

The drink was good, milky with taro flavor, but I wanted to taste the taro even more.  It was the perfect level of sweet, which for me, at that moment, was not that sweet.  I wasn't in a super sweet mood, so I'm glad it delivered.

I actually loved the jellies.  I thought that tapioca was my favorite thing to add, and I thought the taro puddings I tried at Quickly didn't add enough chew, but the jellies were a perfect middle ground.  They added more chew than the puddings, but less than boba.  I sometimes get a little too sick of the boba by the end, and these, even though plentiful, never got old.  I'm not sure what they were made of, but the jellies were small cubes in assorted colors and flavors.

Overall, this was good, and I enjoyed it, but I think I'd go back to Quickly next time ... and switch to jellies there.  At $3.50 it was a bit more expensive than others, and the taro flavor wasn't as strong as I wanted.  But if I was in the area and craving a taro tea, I wouldn't say no to returning ...

Update: I returned, only the next time, I tried the hot version.  Of course, I ordered through the app again.  However, what was handed over to me was a cold drink.  It was very cold out, and I was really desperately wanting a hot drink, so I pushed back on this.  The person who had made the drink said, "oh, but I made it cold."  I pointed out how on the paperwork it even said hot.  She then followed up with, "ok, so you want a new one?"  I felt obnoxious, but yes, I wanted a warm drink.

I'd never seen warm taro milk tea before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  It came in the same type of cup as the cold one, which was strange for a hot beverage.  However, it wasn't that hot, so it wasn't a problem temperature-wise to hold.

I think there is a reason why we don't see hot milk teas more commonly.  It was just a bit strange.  You want to sip a warm drink, not suck it up through a straw.  And of course, I added the jellies, and that is really strange in a hot drink.

I'm not sure if they follow a standard recipe that is different for hot vs cold teas, but this one was also way too sweet.  The sweet jellies made it even worse.

The hot drink really did not work for me.  I kept trying, but alas, it was a lost cause.  I had an empty travel mug with me however, so I dumped it into there, and served it over ice when I got home.  Much better.  The way it should be.   Guess I should have gladly accepted her original cold version instead.  At least I know now, get these iced, always :)
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