A friend once said to me that when you move to a new country, first you change the way you speak, then you adjust the way you dress, and finally you lose your original taste buds. Having grown up in Taiwan but educated as an “American”, I’d say that the way I speak and the way I dress are quite American, but the way I eat is unmistakably Asian. In Boston and New York, I would go through great lengths to get my hands on good Taiwanese food — Especially the Taiwanese national drink Bubble Tea.
For those that are unfamiliar with the drink, bubble tea is made of chewy sweet tapioca balls, and typically put in milk tea, though fruit-flavored tea and other novelty flavors (i.e. taro, red bean) have their following too. I simply adore the drink especially on a hot day and I am excited to share that in São Paulo, in the Liberdade district, there is one store that makes amazing, authentic, tasty bubble tea Taiwanese style – Tea Station (Rua da Gloria 283, Liberdade, São Paulo).
When I tasted the bubble tea (“cha pobá” in Portuguese) at Tea Station, I almost cried tears of joy – it is very hard to find a place with good bubble tea in general outside of Taiwan, and I found it in São Paulo of all places. It is hard to cook bubbles to the right consistency, and I’m very particular about the taste of tea since I grew up drinking it. Not that bubble tea is common in South America (at all), I attest that this is the best one I’ve had in South America! If it is your first time drinking bubble tea, get the original milk tea with boba – it costs around 10 reais and is worth every penny.
A block away, the Japanese Bakery Itiriki also sells bubble tea, but do not go there, the bubble tea there is the worst bubble tea I had in my life. The tea tasted powdery, and the bubble was mushy; I took one sip and threw the rest away.
Anyway, I digress. The owner of Tea Station, Filipe is Taiwanese Brazilian. After a couple of visits to Tea Station I became friends with Filipe and his friends that hung out at Tea Station. A common heritage plus the innate openness of Brazilians made us fast friends! 😀 Filipe said that he had the dream to open a bubble tea store in Brazil, so he went to Taiwan for a couple months to learn the art then came back to São Paulo to open up Tea Station. All the equipment they have was brought over from Taiwan, and the bubbles are also imported. Filipe plans on expanding the store soon and to sell some typical Taiwanese food… can’t wait for that to happen!
The store has a loyal clientele of Asian Brazilians and novelty-seeking Brazilians. Next time you’re in São Paulo, be sure to stop by for a taste of Taiwan! The most authentic Taiwanese bubble tea store in Brazil!