Food & Drink | KONBINI WATCH

FamilyMart is making bubble tea more summer-worthy ... by freezing it

by Patrick St. Michel

Contributing Writer

Teens are going wild for bubble tea, with adolescents (and a smattering of other curious consumers) lining up across Tokyo for the tea with the tapioca balls. Now the concept is mutating and arriving in convenience stores.

FamilyMart recently unveiled a tapioca tea latte kakigōri (shaved ice), transforming the trendy drink into a fully fledged dessert. Each cup (¥198 after tax) packs a bunch of tapioca balls into a milk tea ice-filled cup, with milk-flavored ice cream in the center.

So far, the release has been a hit; finding it at FamilyMart stores can be a challenge, with most outlets sold out.

It’s worth seeking out to try, but don’t go over the top hunting one down. The ice cream is a pleasant enough milk flavor that will go down great on a hot day. And the tapioca is a solid bonus, managing to maintain a good level of squishiness considering that the whole item is essentially frozen. But taste wise, the balls don’t add much to the dessert, and work more to change the texture than anything else. It’s good, but far from a substitute for the real deal.