I was invited to the launch on 1st June 2013 to a new store in Angel Islington called Brew Box, specialising in Taiwanese bubble tea. I went never having had bubble tea before, and honestly most attempts by people prior to my visit to describe to me what bubble tea is were confusing/uninspiring. However, it meant I went with an open mind and genuine curiosity about this place I had heard so much about.
I don’t believe in waffling for the sake of it, so I’ll cut straight to the chase – it was a really great experience for a number of reasons:
1. I was treated with so much attentiveness by store co-owner Albert Yanit (below), and his staff, friends, and family, who with their genuine passion for the business of bubble tea, liveliness, and willingness to explain what several things I ate that I’d never tried before were, made me feel really welcome and quite honoured to be around them. The service was impeccable.
2. The bubble tea was awesome. Upon my arrival I quickly confessed somewhat coyly to all who asked, that I’d never had bubble tea before. This was met with shock, and a lot more coherent explanations than I’d had before, of what bubble tea is. Brew Box’s bubble tea is made with black tapioca pearls and you can also put on additional toppings such as aloe vera, coconut and more. By the time I was handed Albert’s suggestion of Honey Dew flavour (below), I knew what the experience of drinking it would be like, but not the taste…and I was really impressed.
I had the Honey Dew and Matcha flavours, however the store does a variety of flavours such as Coconut, Passion Fruit, Mango, Strawberry, Peach, etc, and some combinations of those flavours too. Basically, there is something there for everyone. I stayed in the store for a few hours and got to see bubble tea nearly all the colours of the rainbow being handed out to customers, and judging by the empty cups, happy and satisfied customers. There was a lot of traffic, no doubt helped by the offer of the first 50 bubble teas free, but many people seemed to come back for more and for the other treats also available.
3. In addition to bubble tea, Brew Box were serving homemade Taro, Pandan, Banana and Green Tea cupcakes. I tasted the first two. Taro (which is a kind of yam food – purple) was great, but my one true love has now become Pandan (a kind of leaf – green), which was amazing. What really contributed to how much I liked them as well, was the exquisite softness of the cupcakes. When I say something is great, I never say it just for the sake of it – those were the softest cupcakes I have ever tasted and they didn’t fall apart in your hand. And look at the colour inside! The Pandan cupcake was exactly the same but bright green.
4. Something else I tried for the first time, was Mochi (below). I had no clue what they were at first, and I’m glad I asked after I tasted them as anyone who knows me knows how reluctant I can be to try new foods. Anyway, I bit the bullet…and I’m so glad I did. They were really tasty. My personal favourite was the Mango flavoured one. Divine.
5. Another drink that Brew Box serves, is Flowering Tea. I watched with curiosity and amusement as my tea with a closed flower at the bottom, slowly opened up into a pretty flower after several minutes. I was so impressed by it, I hesitated drinking it alternating between thinking it still had further to grow (perhaps into a tree ??), and thinking that I didn’t want to ruin the prettiness of it all by drinking it; it’d be like destroying a unique artefact. Obviously it wasn’t that deep though, so I drank it. Apparently they are very good for cleansing.
6. What I really love about the shop in terms of design is that it is quite cosy, and the layout encourages you to sit down and relax whilst drinking or eating. There are wooden crates topped with comfy back and bottom cushions, and stools and a long countertop by the window. The decor is pretty cool too including quirky animations by plug sockets, all of which (as Albert informed me), was done by himself and friends. In fact it took them just 3 weeks to get the shop up and running, and they constructed and designed everything in it. I found this amazing and really inspiring in terms of the way friends & family united together to support Albert & Eric Payumo (other co-owner) in their vision of opening the shop.
As someone whose first experience of bubble tea was at Brew Box, I cannot without evident bias say it is the best in London. However, because of the friendly & hospitable staff, the great selection of flavours of bubble tea, and the great cupcakes & mochi, I most definitely will visit Brew Box again, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is into bubble tea, or just wants to try it out. Bubble tea is something different, and a refreshing break from traditional forms of socializing food and drink like a coffee and a cookie in a coffee shop, and Brew Box is a really cool place to experience it.
You can visit Brew Box at this address:
Brew Box Bubble Tea Ltd
120 L/G Islington High Street
London, N1 8EG
If you go and you enjoy it, be sure to let them know 🙂