Apparently, a couple of years ago, you couldn’t find bubble tea in Seoul. However, bubble tea has been creeping into Korea for awhile and now, one can find this particular chain all over the place in Seoul. Gong Cha is a bubble tea shop franchise originating from Taiwan and it has spread throughout Asia and Australia. The tea shops here in Seoul are usually small with a couple of seating areas by the counter and more seating on the upper floors.
When you order your drink, there are a few steps that you take to customize your bubble tea. Some of these steps aren’t necessary for certain drinks they have, like the smoothies. The steps are English-friendly with diagrams. The steps include: choosing your drink, deciding the size of your drink, adding a topping (tapioca or pearls, jellies, aloe, basil seeds), deciding how much sugar you want (I usually go with 50%) and then choosing ice level (50% again).
As a frequent customer, I was happy that they had a point card. Ten drinks and you get a free large-size drink. Guess who has a free drink~
I thought about trying the entire special menu. Until I realized that I didn’t like 50% of the special menu. In which case, I’ll share some of the drinks that I usually get (the black tea with pearl and the mango smoothie) and some that I’m willing to try.
The Mango Smoothie: Just enough mango. Just enough smoothie. This is a really nice drink to have especially on hot days. The only thing I found is that I have to try to drink it all before all the ice melts and the smoothie just becomes mango-flavoured water.
Black Milk Tea with Pearls: This is my usual go-to drink but in an attempt to feel less tired, I got my sugar than I’m used to. Although it was only a 20% difference, I could still tell the increase in sugar the minute I took a sip.
Grapefruit Green Tea. It took me two tries to get the combination I liked. 70% sugar and less ice. I tried 50% sugar at first but the sourness of the grapefruit overwhelmed the drink experience. With 70%, it’s sweet enough but not sweeter than the grapefruit taste.
I’m a creature of habit and so, I’ve decided to end my journey through the Gong Cha menu prematurely. I like my black milk tea with pearl; mango smoothies in the summer time. That’s that.