Bubble Tea with the Boba Guys

TaiwaneseAmerican.org’s Ho Chie Tsai and his bubble tea tasting team visit with The Boba Guys, Andrew Chau and Bin Chen. In late 2011, they launched their “pop-up” bubble tea shop in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District to rave reviews. Guest correspondent Kristina Lin from Taipei, Taiwan joins the team and shares her thoughts about the experience. Watch the video, and read on!

Having lived six years in Taiwan, the motherland of Pearl Milk Tea / Bubble Tea / Boba, I tried my best to avoid consuming any here in the States, lest it diminish my love for this national beverage. But when I heard that TaiwaneseAmerican.org was interviewing the Boba Guys down on 18th Street, San Francisco, CA, I thought it would be really interesting to tag along as a part of their film production crew. What better way to bond with my fellow Taiwanese Americans than over fresh-made bubble tea?

Located at the entrance of the restaurant Ken Ken Ramen, the Boba Guys’ drink shop was where we conducted our interview. I was rather intimidated when I first met up with the team and the Boba Guys, as they were all much older than me, so I resorted to taking photos and recording candid videos. We spent the first half of our time together just getting to know Andrew Chau, Bin Chen, and their enterprise, from the meaning behind their lab coats to the identity of their mascot.

For me, the highlight of the afternoon was when Andrew and Bin demonstrated how to make their version of bubble tea. They performed all their scientific measurements and procedural blend of loose Indian tea leaves, high-quality Straus milk, fresh-made soft but chewy boba, and their special syrup right in front of us. When all was said and done, seven customized mason jars of bubble tea were placed on the bar counter, awaiting our eager and mesmerized team to try. I was pleasantly surprised to find how authentic it tasted! If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that I was drinking something imported straight from Taiwan. Likewise, the rest of my team commented that this was quite possibly the finest Taiwanese bubble tea in San Francisco!

In a mere two hours, I not only learned the steps and recipe for making delicious bubble tea, but I also learned a few neat tricks in film production, including the use of multiple cameras and external recorders, verbal and physical cues for the interviewer, and positioning, angles, and lighting. It was fascinating taking part in the behind-the-scenes action that I would normally not have experienced!

Friendly, easy-going, and open-minded, the Boba Guys are a real inspiration to the Taiwanese American community. Their obsession with milk tea drove them to find and create the best tasting boba possible, pursuing their passion despite the competitiveness of the food industry and their parents’ initial disapproval. We (and our stomachs) are extremely lucky to be able to benefit from their endeavors as they share this pride of Taiwan with the world!

Leaving 18th Street with a cup of fresh-made bubble tea in my hand, I am thrilled to say that I’ve found a taste of Taiwan, a taste of home, in the midst of busy San Francisco.

Be sure to check out the Boba Guys:

Website: http://bobaguys.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bobaguys
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BobaGuys
GOOD: http://www.good.is/tag/meet-the-boba-guys
Other reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/boba-guys-san-francisco

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