FRESH TEA & JUICE
ARRIVES IN BROOKLYNBy Sophia Hsu Photos by Amit Chaffee
Summer has arrived and so have all of the wonderful refreshment options that come along with the heat and humidity. New York teems with shops offering bubble tea, but few are as authentic and committed to perfection as CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice. Founded in Taiwan (bubble tea’s country of origin) in 1997, CoCo has an international presence with chains across Asia, the Americas, Europe, and even Africa. Now, the team behind all of the CoCo locations in New York is finally bringing the brightness of whole leaf, freshly brewed tea and fruit picked at the peak of ripeness to Brooklyn. Having started out with just a single location near Baruch College and now expanding across Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, CoCo has come a long way since they first stepped into the five boroughs in 2012.
At the International Franchise Expo, I met up with the CoCo team where they served up samples of their original milk black tea with tapioca pearls and a mango green tea with coconut jelly. What stood out from the flavors of the samples was that they were consistently delicious. The tea was bold without being bitter. The fruit was pleasantly sweet and aromatic but not saccharin. The tapioca pearls were exquisitely chewy without being mushy or crunchy. No tapioca pearl should ever be crunchy. The CoCo team attributes the clean tea flavor and the wonderfully bouncy bubbles to high standards from consistent standard operating procedures across all of the shops.
Everyone is capable of making tea, but not everyone can make it great. Timing is everything when it comes to making great tea from quality ingredients. Did you know that you can steep black tea leaves a little longer than green tea leaves or that you should never leave the leaves in the tea? Steeping either type of tea too long gives the drinker a very bitter aftertaste. When it comes to the bubbles, there has to be a balance between soaking and cooking, timing and temperature to reach al dente perfection. Too hot for too long, you get a mushy texture that may or may not look like a bubble anymore. Too hot for too short of a cooking time, and you get a hard marble surrounded by a slimy, sticky mess. Regardless of which CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice you walk into, you can expect consistently high quality and attention to detail from every drink.
Visit the new Brooklyn location or any of the CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice locations in New York City. Also, for news of new locations and specials, follow CoCo on Facebook Coco Bubble Tea NY Official or keep checking their website at cocobubbletea.com.
A Quick Bubble Tea Primer
Milk Tea: usually black tea with milk or creamer
Black Tea: younger tea leaves are picked, dried, rolled, and then allowed to be fully exposed to the air causing oxidation; also known as red tea in Mandarin-Chinese
Green Tea: the same young tea leaves used for black tea are heat or steam-treated before drying and stored in airtight conditions at cool temperatures – this process helps keep the leaves original green color
Tisane: infusions made from steeping herbs, fruits, and/or flowers and naturally caffeine free; also known as herbal tea, fruit tea, flower tea, or an infusion
Slush: a blended ice beverage
Smoothie: a blended ice beverage with dairy like milk or yogurt
Aloe Vera: the juicy, slightly sweet flesh from inside the spiny aloe leaves
Grass Jelly: also vegan-friendly, herbal gelatin that appears black in color and silky in texture
Jelly: vegan-friendly gelatin bits that come in a wide variety of flavors, predominantly coconut
Pudding: a flan-like, solid egg pudding that is lightly sweet, kind of vanilla, and a lot of fun in milk tea
Red Bean: typically used for desserts in Asia; also known as adzuki beans
Sago: usually tiny in size; also known as saksak, rabia, sagu, or sabudana
Tapioca: usually large in size; also known as boba, bubbles, or pearls