GREAT NEWS PEOPLE.  I’ve found a taro drink I like.  Actually, I’ve found a taro drink I LOVE.  Please, cue the symphony and fireworks!  

My first go at taro tea (I had a taro milk tea) was rather disappointing.  It tasted like they’d used cups of artificial sweetener, and I couldn’t really drink it.  But after that experience, many lovely readers suggested other places to try, and among them was Well Tea.

This tea house is rather inconspicuous, located in a strip mall (yes, another strip mall) off Hazelbridge Way, though they have other locations at UBC and downtown Vancouver.

Their website is sleek and incredibly informative – if you don’t know anything about bubble tea, I’d suggest visiting it!  The interior of the Richmond location matched their site – contemporary, orderly, and sleek.  It wasn’t busy when I arrived in the afternoon, though I imagine it fills up quickly at night (they’re open to 1am during the week, and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays).  I found everything about the place relaxing, except for the music; I don’t believe I’ll ever grow to love Chinese pop, and that’s okay.

I think (or at least I hope) my server was new, because she didn’t really know what she was doing.  She was very sweet though, and in the end we got the order all figured out.  I asked for the garlic sweet corn toast, because I wanted a savoury version of thick toast after having tasted it with condensed milk, but they were out.  So instead I went with the spicy Kong Pao Chicken with rice ($8.50), and the Boiled Pork and Cabbage Dumplings ($5.95).

And to drink?  I thought I’d better try two!  I ordered a Blueberry Green Tea (quarter-sweet) with coconut jelly ($4.50 + $0.50 for the jelly), and asked for a Taro Slush with pearls ($4.75 + $0.50) to take away after my meal.

The green tea had fine little bits of blueberry floating in it (major points) and was refreshing.  I would never go beyond  a quarter-sweet, however.  The coconut jelly was much firmer and crunchier than at Pearl Castle, and I liked it more.  I would definitely have this again.

The Kong Pao chicken was stir-fried chicken, peanuts, and chilis in a spicy sauce.  The chicken was a little gristly, and since my favourite part of the dish was the peanuts, I can’t really recommend it.  It came with three sides: gai lan (Chinese broccoli), sautéed mushrooms and baby corn, and deep-fried tofu tossed in chili sauce, which I LOVED.  Next time I would try the Chicken with Three Spices – only after did I see it won at the Chinese Restaurant Awards in 2010.  Shoot!  Anyone had it?

The best part of the meal was the boiled pork and cabbage dumplings.  The wrappers were tender, and while the filling could have used a little more seasoning, it came with a strong dipping sauce.

While eating them, I realized why I liked these so much compared to other dumplings I’ve had lately, like the gyoza at Bone Sushi.  With those ones, the pork filling had shrunk into a little ball when cooked, which rolled around in the wrapper like a ping pong ball.  With the Well Tea dumplings, however, the filling stayed soft and evenly-distributed throughout, like the potato mixture in a perogie.  Because they were boiled and not pan-fried, they were also much lighter, so I could eat more of them!

The taro slush I took to go was pretty much dessert.  I didn’t end up with any good pictures of it, because it came in a white to-go cup with the plastic seal on top.  Here’s what I imagine it would have looked like in a clear cup:

From what I could see coming through the straw, it was pale purple (even more so than in this picture) and had the texture of a milkshake.  Actually, it tasted like a milkshake, too!  It wasn’t too sweet, had a delicate taro flavour, and the pearls at the bottom were just right.  I loved it!  They serve taro milk tea, also.

Like Pearl Castle and Me Cafe, Well Tea generally caters to a younger crowd.  Not exclusively, however; there were several older ladies enjoying lunch there at the same time as me, and it was definitely quiet in the mid-afternoon.  All in all, it was a good experience, and one that’s left me feeling pretty darn good about bubble tea.  Now if only I could come to like the music……


Well Tea

4811 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond BC


Cash and debit accepted

Vegetarian options available