Food & Drink: Bubble Fun

Boba Nosh puts a healthy spin on bubble tea

Many of us equate boba or bubble tea with a cloyingly sweet concoction of artificially flavored milky tea filled with large, hard tapioca balls and lots of sugar. But if partners Monica Pa and Liz Greenberg have their way, their newly opened Boba Nosh in the Novato Fair Shopping Center will dramatically change the way that we think about bubble tea.

Pa, a longtime Novato resident (originally from Taiwan) who raised her family here and teaches Mandarin to students of all ages, wanted to introduce a “better” version of the popular Taiwanese tea drink. She personally sourced traditional black and green teas from all over the country for her special offerings at Boba Nosh.

Greenberg, a chemical engineer by trade with formal pastry training, worked long and hard on perfecting recipes, which she proudly touts as egg-, nut-, soy- and gluten-free. Together the two women have created an exciting and original concept that may take a bit of educating—especially for the younger kids who have only ever known the hyper-sweetened version of bubble tea.

Here’s how it works—think of the experience as bubble tea deconstructed. Customers select their base beverage (black or green tea, or decaf coffee), add beads of tapioca if desired, and then select a juice concentrate; there’s even a fresh fruit option. Sweeteners and milk can be added, and simple syrup, blue agave and sugar are available—but customers are in charge of how much.

I sampled a peach and passionfruit version with tapioca. The flavors were bright and tasted of their true flavors. But it was the beads of tapioca—toothsome and just the right size—that completely won me over; I wanted more. I skipped the sweetener and enjoyed the tangy, refreshing bite that the cool beverage offered on a hot summer day.

Boba Nosh, 942 Diablo Ave., Novato; 415/761-9469;

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