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Of teas and bubbles

The Alley is the new kid on the block

The bubble tea craze resurfaced last year with an entire slew of shops popping up all over the city. Whether in malls or at BTS stations, bubble tea shops are everywhere, and if the trend keeps growing, we may see bubble tea shops the way we see 7-Elevens -- at every corner.

Jumping into the tapioca-filled fray is The Alley, a bubble tea shop from Taiwan. Despite being in the Big Mango for only a couple of months or so, The Alley is in numerous locations around the world, spanning four continents with stores in Toronto, Canada, Paris, two in Australia and a slew of others in Asia. Obviously, they're doing something right -- all these stores were opened in a span of three to four years -- and I was curious to see what the fuss was about.

They've definitely got Bangkokians curious because the queue was pretty lengthy when I visited their CentralWorld location. But of course, it could all just be curiosity and for the sake of following a trend. A glance at their menu shows that they've got a pretty wide selection to choose from. Opt for their signature brown sugar drinks, a must-try, or you can choose from a range of teas. They've also got teas with no milk for those of you who prefer to drink it that way.

I was able to try three of their drinks so I started off with a signature, the Brown sugar deerioca & fresh milk (B100). By the way, don't get nervous about "deerioca". It's just their fancy name for tapioca pearls. This brown sugar drink has the right amount of sweet and the milk isn't heavy so that it completely overpowers the sweetness of the brown sugar. You can drink it unmixed, leaving the sugar and pearls at the bottom with the milk on top, or you can stir it up. I preferred the latter.

Next, I tried the common favourite of all: their version of the bubble milk tea. The Royal no.9 milk tea (B110) at first glance may seem like your typical bubble milk tea, but a sip of it reveals that they use a stronger tea than the other shops. I preferred this because it's not overly sweet or watered down. You can always tell them the level of sweetness you prefer. Finally, I tried the Uji matcha latte (B100), which weirdly tasted like coffee when unmixed. Stirring the drink makes the matcha rise to the top and gives it a new flavour profile and taste, one even non-matcha drinkers will like.

The Alley is not just a great addition to the numerous bubble tea shops but it also offers a different taste. It also offers a different setting with seats where people can hang and chill. With two locations opened in the span of two months, here's hoping they open more so they'll be accessible to more Bangkokians. g

The Alley has shops in Siam Square One (4th floor, next to Somboon Seafood) and CentralWorld (6th floor, next to Isetan). Visit TheAlleyThailand.com and fb.com/TheAlleyThailand.

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