Friday, February 22, 2019

Wat-U-See Foods

Wat-U-See Foods is a manufacture that makes snacks.  Healthy snacks.  Not usually my thing, but, you know I like to try basically anything, and I am an avid snacker after all ...

Their product line is called "chickpeatos", which might give you an indication of what they are made from.

Chickpeatos

"Our Chickpeatos are tasty and powerful snacks to make everyday better. They crunch like a pretzel, snack like a potato chip, and fuel you like nothing else!"
Yes, I love snacks.  I love to munch on things.  But you know what I don't like?  Legumes.  Beans.  CHICKPEAS.

And yet I tried Chickpeatos.  Bear with me on this one.

Chickpeatos come in three forms: crispy (roasted in olive oil), popped, and, uh, as breadcrumbs.

The crispy style looked the least interesting, as they stayed true to chickpea form, but, they did have some interesting flavors (including ... "cinnamon toast"?)

Popped Chickpeatos

"Baked green peas and chickpeas come together to make a smart, craveable snack for everyone. These all natural puffs are packed with protein and popped full of so much bold flavor you'll almost forget that they're good for you!"
I however went with the popped variety.  They are available in three varieties: simple salted, zesty ranch, and sweet caramel sea salt.
Zesty Ranch.
"You'll want to savor the flavor of Zesty Ranch to keep your tastes buds dancing and the party going strong."

I went for the Zesty Range first, assuming the ranch would be most likely to mask the flavor of chickpea.  Shutter.

And it did.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The shape was a bit funny, not quite balls like cheese balls, but not long like cheese puffs either.  Somewhere in the middle.  But the texture?  Totally exactly like your favorite orange colored snack food.  Light, airy.  Very snackable, indeed.

The base, the chickpea and green pea, really didn't taste like peas or chickpeas.  At all.  It was just light and airy, just like a rice or wheat based snack.  You'd never know they were made from chickpeas.

The balls were all well coated too, in what was indeed zesty ranch flavor, herby, I think onion-y, and pretty tasty.  Very herb forward.

It appears that I found a fairly healthy snack that I kinda like ... that said, I didn't exactly crave more of these.
Caramel Sea Salt.
"Enjoy all of the sweet, sticky goodness of indulgent Caramel Sea Salt without any of the guilt."

Next I went for the sweet offering, caramel sea salt, although, again, I was skeptical about the chickpea qualities.

These had promise.  I have a serious caramel popcorn problem, and I'd be thrilled to find a healthier alternative.  And the Zesty Ranch weren't *that* bad ...

But ... a big no to these.  These were not successful.

Not only were they about as far from "sweet, sticky goodness" as you can get, in that, well, they weren't sticky, they weren't well coated, and they weren't even really that sweet, but they also tasted like chickpea/green peas this time around.  They were not only not indulgent, they were also just not tasty.

No, no, no.
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Thursday, February 21, 2019

SusieCakes

Update Review, January 2019

Sure, I've never been in love with SusieCakes cupcakes before (see my original review, or update review from 2016), but, I was actually *really* craving cupcakes one day, when ...
Cupcake Box!
I walked into a micro kitchen at my office and found an abandoned box of cupcakes, many of which had been cut into halves or quarters, meaning I could try several kinds!

Thank you, random person who brought in extra cupcakes.
Red Velvet.
"Deep red, moist cake lightly flavored with cocoa, topped with traditional cream cheese frosting."

I first went for the red velvet, dressed up a bit for the February holidays (even though it was only January!).

It was better than I remembered, a moist cake, although the flavor of the cake itself was fairly muted.  The cream cheese frosting was rich, creamy, and had good cream cheese flavor.

A very decent, standard red velvet cupcake.
Lemon.
"Vanilla cupcake with lemon buttercream frosting." 

I moved on to the yellow sprinkle topped one, which I worried might be lemon, and, indeed, was.  Boo, hiss.  I dislike lemon desserts.  Luckily, there was one of these cut up and that is what I went for, just a tiny chunk.  If it wasn't lemon, or I loved it, I could take the whole one, otherwise, leave it for someone who will appreciate!

The frosting was sweet lovely buttercream, but alas, very strongly lemon flavored.  If you like lemon desserts, this was probably great?
Seasonal Special: Banana Chocolate Chip.
"Banana cupcake baked with chocolate chips, frosted with cream cheese buttercream."

And finally, I went for one that I had no idea what it was.  It looked like it might have some kind of chocolate component, I could sorta see something darker in the cake, and it did have the chocolate sprinkles on top.   It turned out to be the seasonal special: banana chocolate chip.  Doh.  I can't say the idea of a banana cupcake excited me, except for the brief moment I thought, "hmm, can I save that for breakfast to have like banana bread?  It isn't like it has that much frosting on it, and the frosting is like cream cheese anyway ..."

So, uh, yeah, I saved it for morning, and pulled out alongside a cup of coffee - *after* I had a small bowl of cereal, I'm totally responsible!  The frosting was good, the same thick, rich, cream cheese frosting from the red velvet.  But the cake?  Sure it was moist, sure it was studded with regular size generic chocolate chips, but it was also ... banana.  I do not care for banana flavor.

Not the cupcake for me, but well made, and I liked the frosting.
Strawberry.
"Vanilla cupcake with strawberry buttercream frosting."

Finally, I went for the pink frosted one, not sure if it was the "vanilla pink" or the "strawberry", as both feature vanilla cake and pink buttercream.  I believe this was the vanilla pink, as it matches their photo of the vanilla pink, although the frosting just tasted like fluffy sweet buttercream, tasty in a very sweet way, but not strawberry.

The cake was fine, dense, vanilla cake.

I appreciate the generous amount of frosting SusieCakes uses, in particular, it tends to extend down into the cupcake a bit, as if quasi-stuffed.

Update Review, November 2016

I've encountered SusieCakes several times before.  I wasn't ever impressed with their basic cupcakes, but I did find their sugar cookies to be above average, and their fancy cakes had promise.  So I was happy to try more of their products when we had them for an event.
Election Day Assortment.
For election day, our office got voting themed cookies and cupcakes.  I was a bit disappointed by the assortment, since I don't ever really like cookies and  didn't like their cupcakes before, but I still eagerly dove in.

We had one type of cookie (iced sugar cookie) and 4 types of cupcakes: red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, and flourless chocolate.  The flourless chocolate turned out to be amazing.
Frosted Sugar Cookie.  $3.25.
"Thin, buttery and tender cookies with decorative royal icing."

The cookies were simple sugar cookies coated in icing, the same as I had before, just a different themed shape this time.  Sweet cookie, sweet icing, fairly classic.  Nothing earth shattering, but actually a pretty good sugar cookie.
Red Velvet Cupcake.
"Deep red, moist cake lightly flavored with cocoa, topped with traditional cream cheese frosting. "

The red velvet cupcake was, well, a standard red velvet cupcake.  Moist enough cake, although fairly plain tasting.  It had a slight red velvet tang from what I imagine was buttermilk, but it wasn't particularly strong.

The cream cheese frosting was great though, very cream-cheesy, and there was plenty of it.

Overall, a solid, but standard, cupcake, and since I'm not a big cupcake lover, it was just kinda ok.
Red Velvet (May 2017).
I had another red velvet a few months later, and was even less impressed.  There was no tang or interest to the cake (although, it was moist).  The frosting, while it tasted like cream cheese, also wasn't great.  Everything about this was highly mediocre.

The decorations, for Easter, were cute though.
Flourless Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream.
The flourless chocolate cupcake however was glorious.

The cake was a rich, dense, very chocolatey cake, more like a brownie than a moist cake, which makes sense, since it was flowerless.  The top was slightly crispy, just as I like.

The frosting was just sweet vanilla buttercream, but it complimented the rich cake very well.  And there was plenty of it.

Overall, a fantastic cupcake, and I'd gladly eat a dozen myself.

Update: We had plenty of these left over, so I ended up saving and freezing some.  I defrosted one in the fridge overnight, and it came out great.  The cake was still dense, chocolately, and fantastic.  The frosting though, just sweet.  Meh.  I actually removed most of it, and just enjoyed the cake, which is a bit miraculous, given that I only usually eat cake for 1) the frosting or 2) accompanying ice cream.  Which, actually, probably would have gone great.

Original Review, January 2015

SusieCakes is, you guessed it, a cake shop, or more accurately, a chain of cake shops, located throughout both Northern and Southern California.  They are known for their speciality and custom layer cakes, including "Susie's Famous Southern Red Velvet", but they also make cupcakes, cheesecake, puddings, pies, brownies, and cookies.  When you enter the shop, it is hard to look past the cakes though, as most are 4-6 layers, quite impressive looking.

The San Francisco location is located in the Marina, right on Chestnut Street.  Service is always fairly friendly, and they generally have a sample of one of their specialty cakes out on the counter, which I of course love.  The cakes I've tried have all been quite tasty, and I like their cookies, but the cupcakes I didn't like.

I'd love to return though to try their pudding, since I love puddings, and theirs come complete with whipped cream.  I also just saw whoopie pies on the menu, which always bring back nostalgia for me.  And, if I were ever ordering a full cake, I'd definitely consider SusieCakes, since, as I said, I've liked the cakes.

Cookies

Pumpkin Halloween Sugar Cookie.  $3.25.
"Thin buttery and tender cookies with decorative royal icing."

I'm not generally one to gravitate towards cookies, but a co-worker brought in assorted decorated cookies for Halloween, and they were too cute not to try.  Plus, look at at the icing!

It was a very classic sugar cookie.  Nice and soft, not hard and crisp like they sometimes can be.  There was shiny, sweet icing on top, a bit crunchy, but I liked that.  Sprinkles ... for fun and more sugar.

It was a cute shape, nicely decorated, and was quite tasty for such a simple cookie.  I'd eat another (and in fact, went back and had a ghost shaped one later, which was just as tasty).  I've seen adorable turkey cookies for Thanksgiving too, so they clearly have fun with seasonal shapes.

It was a large cookie, but $3.25 for such a basic cookie did seem steep, although I guess the decorating time is really what you pay for.

Cupcakes

Mini Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting.  $20/dozen.
Another day, someone brought in mini cupcakes from SusieCakes.  Again, not my favorite dessert item, but, how do I resist trying a dessert?

I love frosting, but there was just way too much of it on this cupcake.  It was just sweet, I didn't taste any vanilla, and didn't have a great mouthfeel.  It tasted like ... butter.  Just butter.  Ok, sweet butter.  The cake itself was somewhere in-between moist and dry, just kinda there.  It also didn't have any flavor.

I did not like this at all.
Mini Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting.  $20/dozen.
I was so disappointed by the vanilla, that I also tried the chocolate version.

It was better than the vanilla, but only slightly.  Again, the cake was somewhere in-between moist and dry, just kinda there, but at least it had decent chocolate flavor.  The frosting was also better, again it had a decent chocolate level, so there was something to it.

But overall, not a winner, and I wouldn't get again.

Cakes

[ No Photo ]
Tropical Coconut Cake. $6.25/slice.

“Vanilla cake layered with pineapple accented coconut filling & topped with fluffy coconut buttercream and shredded coconut”.

This was actually pretty good, and I bought a slice after trying the sample.  So enticing!

The cake was moist and fruity from the pineapple and coconut filling.  There was perhaps too much shredded coconut on top, so it somewhat overwhelmed.  The buttercream was also quite good, which makes me think that something may have just gone wrong with the batch I had on the vanilla cupcake?  I'm not sure how it could be so good on the cake, and so very bad on the cupcake.

The price for this was rather high though, $6.25 for a single slice.  Full sized round cakes are also available, $36 for 6", or $49 for 9", or you can go the sheet cake route, $215 for a full sheet, $110 for half, or $75 for a quarter.
Vanilla Celebration Cake. $49 / 9 inch round.
"6-layers of vanilla cake baked with colorful sugar confetti, filled & frosted with our signature retro-blue vanilla frosting."

To celebrate a co-worker's birthday, a co-worker brought in the aptly named "Celebration Cake".  It was a beautiful, 6 layer high creation, fairly stunning, particularly when sliced so you could see the confetti throughout the base cake.

The cake itself was just a vanilla cake, although studded with the pops of color.  It was just basic cake, not too dry, not too moist, not very exciting.  The frosting was a cool minty-blue color, so I thought it was flavored, but alas, it was just flavored sweet.  It was creamy, good enough frosting, but still, just plain sweet frosting.

This cake wasn't bad, but it was far more exciting looking than it tasted.  Festive, but boring.

Update August 2017: Another birthday, another celebration cake.  I felt exactly the same way about it.  The cake was ... fine, but boring.  Not too dry, but not interesting.  And the frosting looked far better than it was, it was just sweet, sweet, sweet.

[ No Photo ]
SEASONAL SPECIALTY CAKE: Berry Vanilla.

"Four layers of our vanilla cake with a light vanilla pudding, fresh strawberries & blueberries topped with whipped cream."

This was ... fine.  I liked the ideas behind it, but the fruit itself wasn't particularly flavorful, juicy, or ripe, and the whipped cream and pudding were unremarkable ... as was the plain vanilla cake.

Overall, everything was made well, moist cake, etc, but, it didn't add up to anything special.

SusieCakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Rice Workshop, Sydney

I eat a lot of ice cream in normal life, but, my ice cream consumption increases pretty dramatically, even for me, when I'm in Sydney.  My breakfast usually includes gelato (its not my fault its part of the buffet!), lunch concludes with ice cream novelties from the office ice cream freezer, and evenings are filled with adventures seeking out more ice cream.

The beautiful warm weather inspires it.  The high quality ice cream everywhere inspires it.  The unique flavors inspire it.  I have no choice.  So be it premium gelato from Messinanovelty ice creams from Streets  or the long slew of excellent soft serve ice cream places offering unique flavors (Aqua S, Oh Matcha/Chanoma Cafe, Good Times Artisan Ice Cream, etc), I find myself eating a lot of ice cream.

And sometimes it comes from unexpected places.  Like, the mall food court.

Rice Workshop is a Japanese fast casual chain with a location in the Westfield Mall, right near the hotel I frequently stay.  People seem to like the rice bowls, the curry bowls, the ramen.  The lineup of fried snacks looks pretty good too.
Cones.
But I was there for one thing only: soft serve ice cream, available in matcha or black sesame.  One size only.  Cup, cake cone, or waffle cone ($0.50 extra, matcha or black sesame flavors).  No toppings available.  Also, um, only $2.

So, yes, I sought out Rice Workshop, even though only a few blocks away are Aqua S and Oh Matcha, both known for their soft serve.  Why?  Well, I had Oh Matcha's black sesame soft serve my first day in Sydney, and although it was good, I found myself craving black sesame soft serve ever since.  And I happened to walk by Rice Workshop earlier in the week and see the sign that they offer soft serve ...
Black Sesame Soft Serve in Black Sesame Cone. $2.50.
For a $2 ice cream (+$0.50 for the black sesame cone), this was actually an impressive treat.

Only one size available, but it was a very reasonable size - big enough to enjoy, not feel like it was too small, but not a monster like the soft serve places where I grew up.  I liked the size.

The ice cream was rich, creamy, and intensely black sesame flavored.  Some nuttiness to it.  I think the flavor was better than that at Oh Matcha, although the Oh Matcha texture might have been slightly better, creamier.  I did also try a sample of the matcha, but didn't care for it, it was fairly grainy.

I'll give credit to the beautiful looking swirl as well.  My server looked like she could care less, and when I asked if the cones were just colored or actually flavored she had no idea and seemed like she'd never served an ice cream before, but, she clearly knew how to make a nice looking cone.

Speaking of the cone, I picked the black cone because I was worried the green one was matcha and might have caffeine.  I didn't really taste any distinct flavor, but, it was a fresh waffle cone, not too sweet.

Since Rice Workshop didn't have toppings, I brought my own sprinkles, which I applied using a lid from their ramen bowls, and rolling my cone in sprinkles on it.  It looked far less pretty after this, but, I loved having the crunch from sprinkles.

Overall, I was pleased.  For the price, it was incredible.  But even not considering the bargain price, the flavor was great, texture good, and very convenient.  I'd return again without hesitation, although I think the lack of flavor variety or toppings will keep it from being a regular for me.

Rice Workshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bar Pulpo by Movida, Melbourne Airport

Bar Pulpo by Movida.  It sounds fancy right?  And it might actually be, although it is a tapas bar in the Melbourne International Airport (Terminal 2, after security near gate 4 and 6), so, airport standards are in full effect.
Dine In Menu.
Bar Pulpo is mostly a dine-in establishment, with what looks like a legit line up of tapas, beer, and wine.
"Busy, bustling and popular for its rambling Spanish and Australian wine list and extraordinary tapas, Bar Pulpo is the ideal airport dining experience."
But, I didn't dine-in, nor have tapas.

Bar Pulpo also has a little cafe counter with grab and go baked goods and sandwiches.  I opted to just grab something to take on my flight, but, if I had more time in the Melbourne Airport, and I *didn't* have Qantas First Class lounge access (review coming soon! thank you random seatmate who granted me access!), I'd check it out.  Or maybe I'd just stop by for churros with dipping sauces?
Display Case.
The muffins actually looked decent.  They had four kinds - one savory, two sweet, one healthy-ish - and they all looked fairly good.  So, I got them all.  $5.20 each.  The cashier asked if I'd like them heated, which I declined.

I brought them on my flight to consume rather than the in-flight meals, as the timing of the meals was going to be odd, and I know that I often just crave baked goods.   I hoped these would be better than those served on board.
Savoury - Spinach & Feta.
I started with the savory muffin, spinach and feta.  It was dry.  Very dry.

The base had no flavor.  I didn't find much spinach.  Eh to huge chunks of feta, salty, and just not a flavor I enjoy.

This was not a good muffin.
Blueberry.
The blueberry was slightly better.  Big juicy berries to give a bit of flavor and moisture to the otherwise still pretty dry, hard topped muffin.

Eh.

Raspberry & White Chocolate.
Next, the raspberry and white chocolate.

It also was not a very good muffin.  Very, dry.

The berries were fine, very fruity, and gave it some flavor.  It was a bit sweet too, but mostly just pain "vanilla" cake.

Eh.  Not worth getting.
Apple & Muesli.
And finally, the "healthy" option, a muesli muffin.  This one I got mostly because at that point I wanted to round out the selection, and I suspected something slightly hearty and not too sweet would be nice in the "morning" on my flight, when I was supposed to be transitioning into afternoon or evening.

It was a decent muffin.  Again a fairly dry muffin, hard top.  The base had a bit of flavor to it, a slight heartiness.  It had some oats in it too.  I expected fruit and nuts inside, but, they seemed to mostly just be on top, a few little bits of dried apple and raisins.  That said, I did kinda like the flavor to it, and didn't really mind not having lots of mix-ins.

I think that warmed up, and with butter, this could actually be an very good muffin.  Still, I enjoyed it in the morning.
Bar Pulpo By Movida Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, February 18, 2019

Bubbleteas from Sharetea

Sharetea is a bubble tea chain that originated in Taiwan in the early '90s.  Since then, they have expanded internationally, now with more than 450 stores.  In San Francisco, they have at least 3 locations that I know of (the Metreon, Westfield mall, and Geary).

My visits in person were all in 2017, to the Metreon location, where I tried two taro creations, since, I kinda have a thing for taro.   I liked them.

But I didn't go back, I'm not really sure why.  Then, in February 2018, I  attended an event with a selection of bubble teas catered by Sharetea.  This was exciting (yay, bubble tea!) but also meant that I did not select the items myself.  I've grown sick of standard black tapioca boba and prefer jellies, puddings, etc, and all the choices had boba in them.  And I also usually go for less sweet, and most were full sweet.

That said, of course I was excited to try these too, given the taro drink success.

The Menu

The menu at Sharetea, like most bubble tea shops, is broken down into Milk Tea, Ice Blended, Fresh Milk, Fruit Tea, Creama, and simple Brewed Tea.  They show their top 20 prominently around the space, to help guide you in decision making.

All the standard offerings are available, black, green, and oolong tea for the base, fruity flavors like mango, kiwi, passion fruit, strawberry, and more.  The toppings/mix-ins selection is extensive, with all the classics and then some: pearls (mini, large, mixed), jellies (ice, lychee, rainbow), aloe vera, pudding, taro chunks, red bean, and even ice cream.  They also have a few items more accessible to those who have never had bubble tea, like an Oreo or Coffee blended drink (which, to be fair, I actually really liked my Oreo smoothie at Home Plate Boba).  You can customize your level of sweetness and amount of ice.

My favorite menu item, just from the name, is the "QQ Happy Family Milk Tea", loaded with pearls, grass jelly, pudding, aloe, and red bean.  What is QQ?  Who is the Happy Family?  Don't ask me.

The Space

The Storefront.
The Sharetea I visited is located inside the Metreon, alongside several other establishments.

Every time I've walked by, the place is bustling.  The ordering setup is efficient though, with a clear space to line up, order at the register, pay, get your number, and then wait on the side.  Orders are called out on the far side, by number, with a display showing which order number they are on (just like at the deli!)

Behind the counter is the drink processing station, with staff working quite efficiently.  Everything is laid out and just quickly assembled to order.  The space isn't large, but, they use it well.

Sharetea is also on OrderAhead (or, was, until OrderAhead shut down), so I was able to skip the line and order from the app before I arrived.  However, the soonest "ASAP" option was 25 minutes, not quite what I was hoping for.  For OrderAhead, they call your name rather than number.

There is no seating dedicated to Sharetea, but there is general food court seating, along with plentiful outdoor space in Yerba Buena Gardens just outside the door.

Drinks - 2017

Taro Ice Blended with Pudding. $6.85.
For my first drink, I skipped past standard bubble tea, as it was a crazy hot day out, and I wanted something more like a milkshake.  This desire lead me to the "Ice Blended" section of the menu, where I had a few options.  For me though, the choice was clear: taro!  I'm a huge fan of taro (real and powdered), so this was a no brainer.  I was much like a "Slush" from Quickly, which of course I've had before, or the fantastic taro smoothie from Miss Saigon.

Interestingly, the drink comes pre-defined with pudding as the mix-in.  I could add on another mix-in, or perhaps sub it out (although that wasn't an option anywhere I saw), so, I stuck with that suggestion.  I was leaning towards red bean, but, hey, if they put this on the menu as a standard drink, why not?

I opted for 50% sweetness, knowing how crazy sweet these drinks tend to be.  Besides that, I stuck with the defaults.

I'm not entirely sure what was in this drink.  I assume it was taro powder, and non-dairy creamer, plus ice and the puddings?  Some of the ice blended drinks say they have ice cream in them, this one did not list it, so, I think it did not have ice cream?  But I'm not sure.

Anyway, my drink was good.  It was perfectly blended, no ice chunks, no separation.  The taro flavor was also good, although I'm pretty sure this drink uses the powder.  It was a lovely shade of fake purple.  50% sweet was definitely a good choice, as it was still pretty sweet, and I'd actually lean towards only 30% for next time.  I can't imagine this at 100%!

The puddings were interesting.  Basically, big chunks of ... custard pudding, like flan, crème brûlée, or any other custard pudding.  They added a very smooth texture and additional sweetness.  They sucked up easily in the straw.  You'd think I'd love these, as I love pudding, and I like having texture, but, I got pretty sick of the puddings.  Ojan however loved them.  Next time, I'd try something else, like the red bean I originally wanted ...

So, overall, definitely good and I'd get another.  I'd likely tone down the sweetness more and try a different mix in.  Also, the $6.85 price really does seem kinda high for powder and ice thrown into a blender.
Warm Fresh Taro Milk Tea with Red Bean. $5.00.
Next, I went for a hot beverage.  I've only had a hot beverage once before from a bubble tea place, when I got a hot taro milk tea at Chai-Yo, which wasn't very successful.

It was a cold day, and I wanted a hot drink to warm me up.  In the OrderAhead app, there was a section for "Hot Drinks".  It contained one item: fresh taro milk tea.  Since I love taro, this sounded good to me.

Side note: I later learned that many other drinks, listed in the other sections, are available warm too, that is just one of the customizations you can apply, just like sweetness level, ice level, etc.  For my selection however, I didn't have any customizations available, besides add-ins.  No way to specify sweetness, which concerned me slightly.  I did opt for an add in, and randomly went with red bean, since the others all seemed like they'd be strange in a warm drink and I was sorta trying to be responsible and add some protein instead of just sweet jellies.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure what this drink was.  It isn't actually listed anywhere on the menu at Sharetea itself, which I found very strange.  "Taro pearl milk tea" is a drink, available warm or iced, but that is the style where you specify sweetness, and, I believe is made with black tea.  "Handmade taro with fresh milk" is also an option, iced only, but it too lets you specify sweetness, and costs $1 more.

So what was this?  Was it the warm version of the "taro pearl milk tea", sans pearls, and with default sweetness?  I'm really not sure.  It did kinda taste like it had black tea in it (whoops! I didn't want caffeine!), but, I also thought that the taro milk tea used powder, not real taro, and, this sure seemed to be real taro, aka, it wasn't bright purple and had big chunks of taro in it.  More on that soon.  Was it a warm version of the  'handmade taro with fresh milk", just, cheaper and without letting me say how sweet?  Maybe?

My drink came in a opaque paper cup, unlike the cold beverages that come in clear plastic, revealing their color and mix-ins.  And since the top was sealed like a bubble tea, I had no idea what was inside, which added to the mystery of what on earth I was getting.  It was also interesting in temperature.  The cup was sorta hot on top, but, cold on bottom?
Taro and red beans!
So, how was my mystery creation?

A mixed bag.

I think that the milk was warmed up, but, the mix-ins were cold, which cooled the whole thing down.  So, it was lukewarm from the moment I got it, and it got colder quickly, given that the base was cold to the touch.  Doh.  I wanted a hot beverage to warm me up!

Still, it was fascinating, particularly since I couldn't see inside, and I wasn't sure what I had ordered.  I put in a bubble tea straw, and took a big suck.  Up my straw came ... chunks of taro!  Yes!  It wasn't just powder.  And then ... whole little red beans.  The taro was kinda mashed, and was a bit strange to suck up through my straw.

The flavor of the milk itself was sorta taro-y and not too sweet.  Once I opened it up, I could see the color was more brownish-purple than bright purple like drinks made with powder, so, I do think it really was just taro steeped milk.  But, I'm confused why this was $1 less than the "Handmade Taro with Fresh Milk", and, why that one isn't available warm.  And why it sorta tasted like tea.  Hmm.  Again, I still have no idea what I had.  It wasn't too creamy, so, I think it used regular milk, not something heavier.

I also poured off the milk so I could see what else was in there.  As you can see here, little red beans, and, mashed up taro. 

Overall, it was ... ok.  The real issue was the lukewarm/cold nature of it.

The "warm fresh taro milk tea" is $4.50, I added red bean for $0.50 more, making this a $5 fascination.

Drinks - 2019

Matcha Fresh Milk Tea / Less Sweet / Tapioca Pearls. $6.75.
At the event, given my limited selections, I opted for the matcha fresh milk tea, with pearls (eh), and made less sweet.

It was a fairly standard matcha milk.  Creamy from generic milk, decent matcha flavor.  The pearls were made nicely enough, not clumped together, not too soft, not too hard, but, as expected, I wasn't quite into them.  This is easily fixed though - just use a standard straw, and sip from higher up.

I enjoyed it, but this isn't what I'd order, and the $6.75 regular price seems really high for what is just a cup of milk mixed with matcha powder and boba.
Classic Milk Tea / Black Tea / Normal Sweet / Tapioca Pearls. $6.00.
The event ended with piles of unclaimed, packaged milk teas, so I grabbed a classic milk tea for the next morning.  This one sadly also had tapioca pearls AND was normal sweet, so I was less excited for it, but, hey, can't waste!

It was a pretty standard milk tea.  Strong black tea flavor, sweet and creamy, same decent enough tapioca balls, if you like them.

Not what I'd get myself, since black milk tea is a bit boring to me, and sweeter than I go for, but, it was absolutely fine.
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