Log Cabin Chronicles

Royal Orr

How about a nice cup of tea?

ROYAL ORR

Food fads are like waves on the beach. And in Quebec's Eastern Townships, Stanstead County is high above the breakers, up on the dunes where the salt grass grows.

And sometimes, we should be grateful for that. Consider, for a moment, bubble tea.

I believe I first heard mention of bubble tea on some hipper-than-thou CBC Radio program, the stuff they put on Saturday afternoon when nobody listens except people stuck in cars in remote areas of the country with no other radio choices.

In classic CBC Radio style, no one explained what it was. It was just dropped into the conversation as an indicator of how stylish and stylin' the groovy host was.

It stuck in my mind.

Walking down Bishop Street in Montreal the other day, there was a chalkboard in front of a cafe. "Bubble Tea!!!" it enthused. You could tell it was hip by the exclamation marks.

So I went in and, I swear to God, this is what it's all about.

For three bucks, you get a cup and a half of sweetened tea -- hot or cold, your choice -- that's flavored with a variety of things: fruit juices, vanilla, coconut. And the bubbles are a small handful of tapioca balls tossed into the mixture.

But it's not pearl tapioca. This tapioca is brown and each ball is the size, well, the size of rabbit droppings.

You drink this mixture through a straw (I am not making this up). A large, industrial-size straw.

It's a challenge to draw them up at first but as they soak up the tea and get more and more gelatinous, the chewy brown spheres start slipping happily into your mouth with a minimum of suction.

In the interests of participatory journalism, I finished half my bubble tea. The rest of the sickly sweet, increasingly cloudy mixture got dumped in a city garbage bin.

I am told that this fad began in Taiwan and it's now sweeping the world. If it gets to Knowlton, Quebec then we know we're in trouble.

Keep your eyes peeled and your powder (and your tapioca) dry


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