Finally, Bubble Tea has made it to the streets of Liverpool! After making a slow-burning impression on to the Manchester foodie scene, it was high time it tested the waters of the Mersey. Cafe de Pearl has replaced the modern Chinese eaterie Tea House (maybe it's the same owners? Who knows.) with the premise that it is a bubble tea joint. However, after visiting twice before I decided to blog about it, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Literally.
Cafe de Pearl reminds me a bit of Ryanair, ie lots of hidden costs. Although it advertises itself as a cafe, it sees itself as a restaurant, the staff shoving food menus in your face and asking about 3 times whether you want any food. And here's silly me thinking it's just a cafe. To be fair, the food looked lovely, but don't advertise yourself as Cafe de Pearl if you don't want people coming in just for a drink.
I ordered a bubble slush at a jaw-dropping £2.80 and I noticed no bubbles were actually in it. I was told it would be an extra 50p for bubbles. Ridiculous. It's like charging for sugar with a coffee. The slush was nothing special, it tasted like a poor quality version of a Blackpool seafront Slush Puppie. The staff here should really work for a budget airline. On my second visit some months later, I tried a mango bubble tea in the regions of £3. The mango taste wasn't evident and it tasted like one of those cold cappuccinos packed with Coffee Mate that you get on Easyjet. The tapioca balls were bland and didn't have the consistency of previous bubbles I have experienced around the world. This was disappointing as I was looking forward to trying this eaterie with so much potential, hopeful that Bubble Tea would catch on in my home city. This fun, quirky drink has won the hearts of many faddy foodies around the world, I definitely thought it would be a good gamble in Liverpool.
I am expecting some sort of catty, defensive commentary about this review, probably from someone called 'John Smith of Liverpool', saying I am a 'jealous rival'. I'm just speaking the truth. I've had bubble tea in Manchester, Toronto and Dubai so believe me, I know my way around a mouthful of tapioca balls.