Kung Fu Tea Shop
Kung Fu Tea Shop may just win the Most Adorable Bubble Tea Shop Name non-award. The newest entry in the recent deluge of Taiwanese bubble tea franchises branching out in Toronto, the cafe on Dundas near University exudes a sleek, simple, and cheerful atmosphere.
In the middle of a Tuesday afternoon business is steady even though the friendly manager points out they do most of their business during evenings and weekends.
A relatively modest player in the crowded Taiwanese bubble tea landscape (the part of the world that birthed heavyweights such as Ten Ren, Chatime, along with smaller players such as the also-recently opened Latte Mei), Kung Fu Tea is arguably the cutest.
With their mascot of a cartoony Shaolin warrior monk, along with bright pastel colours and friendly greetings adorning the cafe's wall, this is a tea shop designed to elicit awwws from even the most hard-hearted skeptic.
The manager mentions to me one major fact that separates Kung Fu Tea from the other players: they don't use sugar here. Instead, all the drinks are sweetened with honey and portions can be adjusted based on your preference.
I opt for one of their standard and basic best sellers: the Oolong Milk Tea ($4.10 for a regular size). It has a strong milky flavour giving the beverage a pronounced creamy smoothness that actually blends beautifully with the characteristic tea flavours.
It's certainly sweet, but sans the bitingly eye-closing sugar rush that usually accompanies many other bubble tea shops' offerings around Toronto.
At no time does the creaminess overshadow the simple, pleasant taste of the tea itself. The result is a beverage that is well balanced: both refreshing and satisfying, light and creamy at the same time.
I am told that the Tieguanyin Milk Tea, another of their trademark drinks and also identically priced, is basically a slight variant of the Oolong Milk Tea, but with crushed ice. Food for thought for those slushee lovers.
Should you be more of a purist, the 38 Milk King ($4.50 for regular size) would be one to try. It's the chain's most popular offering in Taiwan, and with an abundance of pearl tapioca, jelly noodles, and grass jelly all vying for space inside a creamy milk tea, it's not hard to understand why. It's practically a full dessert in itself.
The manager also points out that the shop runs weekly specials that change, well, weekly. Apparently there will be a BOGO offering coming up in the middle of August, with back to school specials to follow soon after.
Full details on these upcoming deals are still a bit vague, so I guess I'll just have to crane-kick my way into this Dundas St. cafe in the coming weeks to find out more. After all, they do have free WiFi and are open from 11:00 am to 11:00pm 7 days a week. Hai-YAH!