Most people enjoy bubble tea for a few reasons, but usually, people love it because of its tapioca pearls (you might call them boba or pearls for short). Having boba offers a different texture to the drink with the added enjoyment of chewing on something while drinking.
As a fan of bubble tea since I learnt of its existence, biting into a chewy pearl is now a textural experience I look forward to every time I get a bubble tea. However, while you can change drink flavours, the flavour of the pearl seldom changes… until now, that is.
Tealive is introducing a brand-new pearl to their menu that offers a bit of a different experience, or dare we say, a flavour pop.
Popping pearls aren’t exactly new, but we haven’t really seen them on the menu for a mainstream brand.
What’s Poppin’, Good Lookin’?
As the name suggests, Pop Pop Pearls introduces pearls that’ll ‘pop’ in your mouth as you bite into them. Think bursting meatballs, except these are not meaty, but fruity and smaller in size.
The drink features two specific flavours of Mango and Strawberry. If you get the drink with the Mango Pop Pop Pearls, the drink will come along with Strawberry Milk Tea.
But if you get the Strawberry Pop Pop Pearls, it will be accompanied with the Mango Milk Tea instead.
We managed to get a hold of Fiona, the Head of R&D for Tealive, and asked her what inspired Tealive to make this drink.
If you can’t guess by the colours of the branding, the drink was heavily inspired by Pop Pop Firecrackers and Popping Candy, things that we enjoyed during our childhood.
A reason this drink was created was to make you feel like a kid again, and they even encourage the customers to play with their drinks (in a non-destructive manner of course).
Roll the pearls around in your mouth, stir them around in your drink, pop 1 in your mouth or pop 20 at one go—you get a chance to drink it any way you want.
Taking A Pop At The New Drink
The first drink I tried out was the Mango Pop Pop. With the popping pearls at the bottom, I tried the milk tea first without stirring. Surprisingly, the milk tea was quite rich and it actually went really well with the pearls.
According to Fiona, the milk tea is the same rich locally grown highland tea that you’ll get from Tealive’s Black Diamond series.
Once everything was mixed, you’ll taste a hint of strawberry in the milk tea. The taste wasn’t overbearing nor too sweet. And yes, you can also reduce sugar levels.
The star of the show, the Mango Pop Pop pearls, have a slightly matte texture, unlike a gooey chewy pearl.
The outer part of the pearl is actually tasteless. However, biting into the Pop Pop pearl was an easy task and it revealed its contents of mango.
It was a literal burst of flavours on my tongue and I enjoyed its tanginess. You will definitely have to prepare your taste buds because you’ll get hit with fairly intense flavours.
If you’ve ever eaten and enjoyed ikura (salmon caviar), the texture of the “skin” and the sensation of the liquid bursting onto your tongue is remarkably similar.
The Strawberry Pop Pop was more or less the same, but with an intense strawberry fruity taste instead. I did feel that the mango milk tea had more intense flavours compared to the strawberry version and because of that, I do personally prefer this instead.
Having Fun With A Drink
The development of the two drinks took the team about half a year.The team even played with the pearls by throwing it against the wall to see if they would bounce or pop, and it did actually pop!
After hearing that, I had to try it out for myself. Unfortunately, the pearl didn’t stand a chance against a concrete floor and burst without even making a pop. Guess my expectations were a little off.
Note: You might have thrown those little Pop Pop firecrackers onto the ground (and at each other, when mom wasn’t looking), but we do think it’s a waste to throw these juice-filled pearls onto the floor.
Tailored to the Malaysian market, the pearls are halal and the outer layer of the pearl is made of seaweed extract.
As to why they chose mango and strawberry as their first flavours, they wanted flavours that would pop, both in terms of taste and colour and it’s something that most people would be familiar with.
The Pop Pop Pearl drinks are fairly nice to consume, but it would be better if you have someone to share it with because there’s a special discount if you do!
So what are you waiting for? Pop by your nearby Tealive to get a taste of these juicy and tarty balls, and maybe rediscover a piece of your childhood while you’re at it.
Mango/Strawberry Pop Pop Pearls @ Tealive
Price: RM7.90 (Regular) RM 8.90 (Large) / RM15 for 2 Regular drinks / RM17 for 2 Large drinks
Pop Pop Pearls will be available nationwide (Peninsular Malaysia), with Sabah and Sarawak to follow by December 2019.
This article was written in collaboration with Tealive.