There’s more to drink in Richmond than the popular tapioca pearl-filled beverage. From Vietnamese egg sodas to winter melon tea, here are five alternatives to “boba” when you want to sip and slurp.

8 Juice in the Aberdeen Centre Food Court. | Photo: CAROLYN B. HELLER

1. “House Special” – 8 Juice

There’s usually a lineup at this juice bar on the third-floor food court at Aberdeen Centre, where the blenders are constantly whirring.

Many customers opt for the creamy, fruity “House Special.” A tropical blend of mango and coconut with bits of grapefruit-like pomelo, it’s studded with clear, delicate tapioca pearls, much smaller than typical bubble tea “bubbles,” that pop through your straw.

Location: Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way

The “House Special” at 8 Juice. | Photo: CAROLYN B. HELLER

2. Red Bean & Mochi Ice – Mango Yummy

Dessert and drink specialist Mango Yummy has lots of treats featuring the signature golden fruit, including its special mango ice with grapefruit and sago (tiny blond tapioca-like pearls). For an even more distinctive drink though, try the Red Bean Ice with Mochi.

It starts with finely shaved ice, topped with a layer of sweetened red beans. The drink is crowned with a sprinkling of bubble-shaped mochi, chewy sweetened rice cakes that add a slightly nutty flavour. Mix everything gently together, so the flavour of the beans and mochi infuse the ice. Add a wide straw and enjoy.

Location: 6564 No. 3 Rd.

Red Bean & Mochi Ice at Mango Yummy. | Photo: CAROLYN B. HELLER

3. Soy Milk with Basil Seeds – Excellent Tofu and Snacks

Near Aberdeen Station on the Canada Line, Excellent Tofu and Snacks specializes in soy products, making its own soy milk and soft tofu pudding. You can take your fresh soy milk straight up, either hot or chilled, or mix in a variety of toppings—from tapioca pearls to coconut.

For a rejuvenating drink, try soy milk with basil seeds. Similar in texture to chia seeds, the basil perks up the creamy soy beverage with a mild herbaceous flavour and a jelly-like crunch.

Location: 4231 Hazelbridge Way

Soy Milk with Basil Seeds at Excellent Tofu and Snacks (the real colour is on the left). | Photo: CAROLYN B. HELLER 

4. Winter Melon Tea – Memory Corner

You’ve sampled black tea, green tea, mint tea and chamomile tea, but have you tried winter melon tea?

While it looks like dark beer with a straw, the traditional Winter Melon Tea at Memory Corner Taiwanese Cuisine tastes nothing like the suds. This delicately sweet amber liquid topped with a wedge of foam is subtly tea-like, but without the underlying tannin. Add flecks of coconut jelly for a little more sweetness and chew. This could be your new summertime refresher.

Location: 6900 No. 3 Rd.

Winter Melon Tea at Memory Corner. | Photo: CAROLYN B. HELLER

5. Vietnamese Egg Soda – Thai Son

Vietnamese restaurants serve a rainbow of delicious drinks, from avocado milkshakes to sweet milky iced coffees. A frothy fizzy beverage that you can find at Thai Son, on the second floor of a Garden City Road mini-mall, is Soda Sua Hot Ga, or Egg Soda. It’s made from sweetened condensed milk, soda water and an egg yolk, blended into a light, effervescent custard drink.

Toto, we’re not in the bubble tea shop anymore!

Location: 4653 Garden City Rd.

Soda Sua Hot Ga (Egg Soda) at Thai Son. | Photo: CAROLYN B. HELLER