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Tea Industry

7 Teas Items That Prove Restaurants are Upping Their Tea Game

February 12, 2018

Restaurants are seriously stepping things up when it comes to tea. Consumers are no longer satisfied with a boring black tea bag or a simple iced tea. They want cool flavor combos, natural sweeteners, memorable accents, texture, and document-worthy experiences. To meet the high demands of foodies across the country, these restaurants are offering creative tea options. From chains to independents, check out these menu items to see how operators are elevating the tea sector:

1. Plum Ginger Hibiscus Iced Tea – Panera

This iced tea from Panera combines flavors of hibiscus, apple, blackberry, rosehip, pump, carob, and ginger for a complex, sweet profile. Ginger is hot hot hot right now in the culinary world, and mixologists are finding creative ways to combine and showcase it, like this. Flavor for the win!

2. Raspberry, Mango, Pomegranate, and Kiwi Iced Tea – Applebee’s

These iced teas from Applebee’s reflect the rising demand for unique flavors in the tea world. Applebee’s diners can choose between refreshing glasses of raspberry, mango, pomegranate, and kiwi iced tea.

3. Fruit and Milk Teas – Panda Express

Panda Express has an entire tea bar catered to your Asian-inspired tea needs. Choose from fruit or milk/boba teas. Fruit teas include: Strawberry, Raspberry, Hibiscus, and Passion Fruit. Milk teas include: Thai, Matcha, and Crème Brulee. To meet consumer expectations for customization and the rising demand for textured beverages, Panda Express offers the following add-ons to any drink: honey boba, jelly (coffee, tea, or grass), fruit jelly (rainbow or lychee), aloe vera, pudding, and chia seeds. Talk about thorough options!

4. Blackberry Tea Thyme – California Pizza Kitchen

Consumers want twists on the familiar, and California Pizza Kitchen delivers with this modified Arnold Palmer, which combines freshly brewed Gold Peak iced tea with lemonade and accents it with blackberry and thyme sprigs. The chain also features many flavored iced teas (Mango, Peach, Strawberry, Raspberry) and a Passion Fruit Mango Iced tea bursting with tropical flavors.

5. Rooibos Tea with Coconut Milk and Maple Syrup – Sqirl

LA foodie haven Sqirl is the place to look for what’s trending in the food and drink world. Their tea menu includes this iced tea, which exemplifies the natural sweetener and alternative milk trends by sweetening rooibos tea with maple syrup and adding coconut milk for a non-dairy boost. The restaurant also features a Laura Palmer, which satiates consumer demand for unique flavor combinations and updated classics by pairing black tea with grapefruit juice.

6. Matcha Limeaid – Bon Matcha

Washington, DC matcha haven Bon Matcha serves up a refreshingly sour take on the earthy flavor with its matcha limeaid. Limeaid is having a moment, and what better to pair with it than tea’s reliable rising star, matcha?

7. Earl-Grey Infused Whiskey – Steak + Whiskey 

Tea continues to elevate cocktail menus, like it does at Steak + Whiskey in Hermosa Beach, California. The cocktail named Bill The Butcher pairs earl-grey infused bourbon with Americano and velvet falernum. Elsewhere on the cocktail menu, the O-Ren Ishii pairs matcha with vodka, yuzu, mint, and orgeat. All over the place, mixologists are turning to teas and tea-based syrups to specialize alcoholic offerings, so be on the lookout!


Types of Tea

Everything You Need to Know About Boba Tea

March 14, 2016

By now, you’ve probably either tasted or heard of the dessert-like tea drink known as Boba (also commonly referred to as bubble tea or pearl tea). A couple years ago, it seemed to take the country by storm, with new Boba shops popping up everywhere and well-known restaurants opting in to selling the tasty tapioca treat. But where exactly did this trend come from? We’re here to give you all the facts and answer all your questions about the popular drink.

It originated in Taiwan.

The first ever boba tea drink was invented in Taichung, Taiwan in the 1980s. Although no one’s certain exactly where the idea came from, the most circulated story credits Liu Han-Chieh as the mastermind. The founder of Chun Shui Tang Teahouse, he wanted to experiment with the possibility of serving tea cold – a new style that ended up propelling his small business to massive success. He mixed the cold milk tea with creative additions like fruit, syrup, candied yams, and tapioca bubbles, which resulted in the creation of the popular Boba tea drink as we know it today. The drink became popular in many parts of East and Southeast Asia during the 1990s before making its successful debut in the US and other countries around the world.

There are multiple ways to make (and drink) Boba tea.

In general, Boba tea recipes call for a tea base (green, black, etc.) mixed with fruit or milk, to which tapioca balls are then added. This will result in two main types: fruit-flavored teas and milk teas, although many shops now offer a hybrid of the two, combining the fruity mixtures with milk (or non-dairy creamers/milk substitutes). The flavoring is added in the form of syrup, powder, fruit juice or pulp to the hot tea, which is then chilled. Both variations can be served over ice or blended. The cooked tapioca pearls are added as a final step.

Choosing a flavor can be difficult.

The countless flavors for Boba tea can be overwhelming. They range from popular fruit flavors like strawberry, grape, and watermelon to more exotic, adventurous fruits like passion fruit, avocado and jackfruit. They also come in non-fruit flavors for a richer, creamier drink. Some popular types include taro, rose, almond, ginger and Thai tea. Although the drink is defined and often characterized by the black, marble-sized balls that sit at the bottom of the cup, there are many variations on the type of “bubble” you choose as well. The spheres can vary in color depending on the ingredient of the boba – options include green tea, aloe, custard, sago and taro. The chewy tidbits also don’t always come in the form of balls. Jelly is formed in the shapes of cubes, stars and rectangular strips with flavors such as coconut jelly, lychee, grass jelly and mango.

The straw is a dead giveaway.

Chances are you’ve already indulged in one of these delicious drinks, but if you haven’t (or let alone seen one), there’s one surefire way to know whether it’s the real deal: the straw. The oversized, often colorful straws must be large enough for the pearls to pass through; therefore, they can typically be spotted from a distance. Otherwise, the packaging of Boba tea can vary. Some cafes use plastic, dome-shaped lids while more customary Boba shops use a machine that seals the tops of the cups with plastic cellophane. These are often customized with the shop’s logo, only to be pierced by the straws. A benefit to the latter method: it’s spill-free, allowing patrons to shake up their drinks directly in the cup or save them to enjoy later.