The Shaomei Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bar is a refreshing creamy treat that satiates a very specific craving.
What is a Shaomei Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bar?
A Taiwanese treat that has quickly taken over the boba-loving portion of the Internet, the Shaomei Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bar is a premium frozen treat made of high-quality milk tea ice cream with lacy swirls of brown sugar syrup, studded with spheres of chewy tapioca balls. The hype is serious: A search for Boba ice cream bars online brings back a dedicated Wikipedia page, subreddits listing places where people can buy the bars in different cities, and recipes for recreating your own at home. Across Canada, they can be found at T&T, FreshCo, and some Asian grocery stores.
Why I love it
For people like me, who regularly crave bubble tea but don’t live in neighbourhoods where Chatime and the Alley have the same kind of ubiquity as Starbucks, the COVID-19-prompted lockdowns in late March created a low-stakes but unmissable void of milk tea and tapioca pearls.
Thankfully, while I was avoiding travel on public transit and confined to the bounds of my immediate vicinity, the Shaomei Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bar was there to ease my boba withdrawal.
Just to get it out of the way: The boba bar is not a perfect replacement for actual boba. It’s only available in one flavour, and the tapioca pearls, which are made of tapioca starch and sweet rice flour, are softer and less springy than their slurpable counterparts. It is an ice cream bar, also. However, while I was not comfortable forcing a delivery person to cycle halfway across the city and over the Don Valley during the height of a global pandemic just to bring two (albeit large) cups of pearl milk tea to my door, I was thrilled to find the Shaomei Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bar available at my local grocery store.
Despite the soft trails of brown sugar syrup throughout the milk tea ice cream base, these bars are not cloyingly sweet or artificial tasting and offer the same refined smokiness that you would find in a tiger milk tea. The tapioca pearls, evenly distributed throughout, offer a textural dimension to an otherwise smooth and creamy canvas, with a satisfying snap as you pull them individually off the bar. Unlike a pearl milk tea, which can feel a bit like a full meal in drink form, boba bars are more like a light and refreshing afternoon snack (they ring in at about 150 calories), ideal for munching while lounging on the porch on a sweltering day.
While it’s no longer as difficult for me to get to Cha Time these days, I still love the boba bar, a fairly guilt-free treat that I reach for in the mid-afternoon. The convenience of being able to keep them stashed in the freezer to fulfill sudden boba cravings, combined with their impeccable flavour, makes them a solid go-to when I want boba but not enough to go out of my way for it.