Let me preface this review by saying that I love bubble tea. For those of you who are unaware of bubble tea, it is a chilled drink that can be made with either tea or milk powder, and which has “pearls” or “bubbles” (usually tapioca) added to it. I first had it in Kampung Ali a few years ago, and have since sought it out whenever and wherever I could. I have tried bubble tea in London, New York, and Amsterdam, but never have I had better than at Chatime. The shop itself is quite small, with limited seating, but is nevertheless bright and welcoming.
The menu is extensive, almost overwhelmingly so, but thankfully the staff are both helpful and knowledgeable. One thing I appreciated most about Chatime is the fact that most of their drinks are actually made with tea. Aaron, the manager, explained to me that they source all of their ingredients and equipment from Taiwan in order to provide the most authentic bubble tea possible.
I was unsure of what to go for and struggling to choose when so many options appealed. Aaron very kindly offered to just provide a selection and so the Bear and I had the Chatime milk tea with regular tapioca pearls, matcha milk tea with red bean paste, lychee black tea with rainbow jelly, and Oriental Beauty tea also with tapioca pearls. You can also adjust how much sugar and ice you want in your drink. We had regular sugar in all but the lychee black tea, which was half sugar.
The Chatime milk tea was creamy and delicious, not too sweet but still with the aromatic flavour of tea and perfectly complemented by the tapioca pearls. The matcha milk tea I found could have done with slightly more sugar as I find green tea to be quite a savoury flavour naturally. The red bean paste, however, was sweet and delicious.Lychee black tea was fruity and refreshing, sweet enough without much sugar at all, and the rainbow jelly was a colourful mix of fruit and coconut jelly cubes.The Oriental Beauty was most reminiscent of a standard ice tea, having been freshly brewed. It was a full flavoured black tea that I found very thirst-quenching, perfect for a hot day.
I’m quite glad that I don’t live closer to Chatime, as I would probably be in there every day trying all the different iterations of tea and toppings. With eight different toppings to choose from as well as a long list of teas, you could never get bored. If you find the menu a bit daunting, you need only ask the staff for help and they will cheerfully recommend something to suit your palate.
Chatime’s Edinburgh branch can be found at 14 North Bank Street, Edinburgh