In 2001, The Chicago Tribune ran a story with the headline “The bubble fad.”
In the article, Molly Spence wrote, “Are you looking for a drink with more substance? For more than two years, teens and twentysomethings in Westwood, Brentwood and other Los Angeles enclaves have been gathering in light and airy, techno-pumping spaces to slurp bubble tea, a catch-all phrase for an assortment of cold drinks with chewy, black tapioca balls lurking in the bottom. Why? The gelatinous little balls, or pearls, are oddly appealing. They slip up a wide, brightly colored straw, adding a new dimension to drinking — chewing.”
And the way that the Midwest adopts trends from the coasts, we only have to fast forward a mere 16 years later to see Dayton’s first bubble tea food truck — Billie Gold’s Bubble Tea — opening in October 2018, and 17 years later to find Dayton opening its first authentic bubble tea shop in summer 2019.
Located next to the delicious Kung Fu Noodle on Dixie Drive, Blossom Juicy Bar serves up bright, colorful bubble teas packed with chewy, flavorful ingredients.
Milk tea (medium $4.50, large $4.75) options include: Milk black tea, milk green tea, macha milk tea, Oolong milk tea, almond milk tea and, my personal favorite, taro milk tea. Fruit teas ($4.75) include pineapple, grapefruit, whole lime, lemon black tea, lemon green tea and raspberry green tea. Smoothie ($4.50 medium, $4.75 large) options include: Taro milk smoothie, mango smoothie, green apple smoothie, raspberry smoothie, blueberry pomegranate smoothie, pineapple coconut smoothie, vanilla milk smoothie and mocha milk smoothie.
Pick the type of smoothie or almond, milk or green tea, and top it off with a topping or two or three (50 cents each) including bubbles, various types of jelly, pudding, organic milk foam and flower essence. If you need a recommendation for your first visit, go for the mango bubbles that burst and release a sweet mango flavor.
Bubble tea came to life in Taiwan sometime in the 1980s. It has traditionally been milk-based and dressed up with toppings to make it a a tasty sugar-fueled refreshment with a little snack on the bottom. This is a refreshing, textural beverage that can offer up a kick of energy or a bit of a hangover remedy depending on the need you find yourself in over the holidays. If it’s your first time having it, sip slowly so that you get used to drinking your tea with the chewy bits that come with it.
If you’re a bubble tea novice, ask for recommendations based on flavors and textures you enjoy to create a bubble tea that will best satisfy the flavor profiles you favor.
Bubble tea can be served up cold during the summer, but also hot during the winter. Think hot mango fruit tea with bubbles or a warm taro bubble tea that tastes savory and creamy.
Blossom Juicy Bar is extremely small and just has a counter to order, so plan on taking it to go. Hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and orders are available for delivery through doordash.com.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
If you do decide to make a visit, plan on getting your drink and grabbing lunch or dinner at Kung Fu Noodle next door. The restaurant specializes in handmade Lanzhou noodles, full of flavor and history with origins that date back to China’s Tang Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago.
The restaurant’s specialties include steamed cold noodles ($8 with ground pork added for an additional $1), Kung Fu mung bean noodle ($6.50), thin vermicelli noodle in chicken broth ($6.50), thick vermicelli noodles in chicken broth ($8) a fantastic chicken broth wonton soup ($10.95) and, the restaurant’s delightful Dan Dan noodles ($6.50), which is a personal favorite of mine. These kicky noodles mixed with finely ground pork, pickled long string beans, sesame paste and spicy garlic sauce are totally wonderful and addictive.
The classic aromatic Lanzhou beef noodle soup has a pile of hand-stretched noodles topped with braised beef, sliced white radish, green garlic and cilantro ($11.95 for a regular portion, $14.95 for the large). It’s warm, tangy, satisfyingly, simple and perfect for the winter months.
Sausage stir-fried noodles ($9.95 for lunch, $12.95 for dinner) are filling and satisfying thanks to a pile of noodles mixed with zucchini squash, carrots, onions, eggs and sausage. You can get chicken, pork or vegetable stir-fried noodles if sausage isn’t for you.
It’s a simple restaurant with simple dishes that should not be underestimated. And with bubble tea before or after or during, it’s a great treat that I’m so glad to have in our town.