World’s Most Expensive Bubble Tea

How would Bubble Tea taste with unlimited time and unlimited resources?

Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea

Plastic. Powdered. Questionable. This is our fight. This is our luxury. Because tea can be so much better. We challenged ourselves and our expert friends in culinary to reimagine Bubble Tea; optimizing harmony between color, aroma, taste, and texture. ⁠

Originating in Taiwan and seen in the hands of many on a hot day, bubble tea first appeared in the 80’s.

Also known as “boba”, “PMT”, and “BBT”, bubble tea is now a global beverage where chewy tapioca pearls are poured into a glass of iced, sweetened tea. Today, the drink has gained popularity around the world, however many of the ingredients used to make it are not ideal—from low-quality tea using non-dairy creamers, corn syrups and the dust and fannings of the tea leaf, to powdered and artificial flavors—which has tarnished the beverage’s reputation in certain markets.

The World’s Most Expensive Bubble Tea project isn’t about masking the ordinary with diamond-encrusted straws and gold chalices, but is a challenge for us all to elevate expectations, quality, and the standards of ingredients and techniques, using bubble tea as an example—to ‘shake up the status quo’ and ‘question everything.’ Not an end-destination, but a representation of continual aspiration.

It’s about craftsmanship in the art of tea and culinary, and the never-ending pursuit of perfection.

-TEALEAVES CEO, Lana Sutherland.

The result is the birth of a new world-class beverage: the Boba Teashake.  TEALEAVES’ Master Blenders created a Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea blend of whole tea leaves blended specifically for ice to serve as the bubble tea’s base. As a beverage cools, its aroma has less impact on the overall intensity of the palate. Taking that into consideration, our Master Blenders amplified the color and taste to provide the best experience for the senses. Indian, Chinese, and Ceylon black teas were blended with the natural oils of lychee and passionfruit for a delicate aroma, even over ice.

When ice is immediately added to typical hot black teas, clouding of the beverage occurs as a natural reaction where microscopic air bubbles emerge due to the tea’s low pH levels.  The Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea blend was blended carefully in small batches by hand while examining the tea’s acidity so that it can withstand cold temperatures when “shocked” with ice to reduce the chance of cloudiness. The overarching goal is to achieve a clear liquor reminiscent of scotch on the rocks.

“When creating the Boba Teashake, the Lychee Passionfruit Bubble Tea blend was prepared with proper infusion times and temperature to achieve the best expression of taste, terroir, and nuanced flavor, while preventing the over-extraction of bitter tannins typically found in regular, over-steeped bubble tea,” says Executive Chef Franck Desplechin of The St. Regis San Francisco. “We infused the tapioca pearls with TEALEAVES Mountain Berry herbal tea to add an extra dimension of taste and texture, and paired it with a passionfruit coulis, sea salt caramel foam, and fleur de sel. The name of the Boba Teashake is an homage to the technique of using a cocktail shaker to cool the beverage and create the signature bubbles, instead of the typical method of letting the ice melt inside, which would dilute the flavor. We wanted to unearth bubble tea’s true potential by using the highest quality ingredients and five-star culinary techniques to create something unforgettably delicious.”

The entire project can be explored here.