Contributor: Tracy Akrofi
A final year student in the University of Ghana studying Consumer Sciences. She is a passionate food lover and an avid reader. Instagram
Tea in Ghana usually refers to any hot beverage. When you ask for tea in a local restaurant, you have to be specific to ask for the brand or type of tea you want. If not you could be served any brand of tea. Tea drinking, although not part of the local Ghanaian culture unlike that of her colonialists has since been adopted after it’s introduction by the British? Locally, hot steaming tea is sold in the mornings by women who prepare sandwiches ‘Chibom ( pan-toasted bread with omelette) and serve the hot beverage to wash down all that yumminess. Aside this, we all drink hot tea in our homes.
But what of chilled fruity-flavored tea? Not iced tea, Bubble Tea. Bubble Tea is a fruity flavored chilled tea originating from Taiwan back in the late 80’s. What makes Bubble Tea drinks unique, are the ingredients consisting mostly of a tea base mixed with fruit flavor or milk with small chewy tapioca balls or pearls. That’s the signature of Bubble Tea.
Trying something new is always an adventure but trying Bubble Tea with exploding pearls was bound to be quite a trip! That's what I said to myself as I sat at the Bobafro Bubble Tea Shop run by Ghanaian entrepreneurs Stacey & Janet.
It's a bubble teashop serving Bubble tea with fat straws. That's also one of the signatures of any BubbleTea shop. Fat straws because of the Tapioca Pearls which have to get sucked up through the straw. Other popular names of Bubble Tea are; Boba Tea, Pearl Milk tea, Boba milk tea, "The drink with the fat straw", Momi etc
I've never really been a fan of Tea (I hardly take tea) but this new experience truly looked promising. The minimalist decorated shop portrayed an environment for enjoying Bubble Tea in peace and quiet. Wood hanging surfaces ( reminds me of Starbucks ) served as both an eating and working on surface. Oh, there’s free wifi as well. The chairs however are not for long periods of sitting due to the lack of a back support. Give or take, you can do quick work for 30-45 minutes max and perhaps take a stretch to continue working again.
Bobafro holds a sedate and mildly subdued atmosphere which is perfect for informal small meetings (a group of five at most) and singular moments with a laptop. I realized it was a sharp contrast from most of the food joints I know at East Legon which are often more crowded with deafening noise from either a TV or radio set . Less people means more concentration. The menu is also simple with fruity selections; there’s Milk Tea (matcha, taro, chocolate), Fruit Tea (passion, lychee and panda) and Smoothies( banana, mango and avocado) . All these come with toppings of white pearls, lychee black pearls and whipped cream at an extra cost.
Like every Tea shop I know of, I expected pastries of some sort but there was none, I had to drink my Kumquat Tea on it’s own. This, according to the business owner is not common. Pastries are not side options with Bubble Tea. The tea is served chilled so it was actually great to get refreshed after spending some time in traffic and Ghana hot temperatures. Awesomely reassuring is that the fact that actual loose tea leaves are used in brewing Boba and not artificial tea flavoured bases.
The service was exceptionally warm as well. The waiters weren’t clueless about what the products were as it was obvious they had their personal favorites which one would see scribbled out on a menu board. There’s nothing more impressive than asking a waiter what’s good here than they actually describing what was being offered. I've never seen waiters that smile so much like those I encountered at Bobafro, I don't know if it's because they're new in the Ghana food business or they're just friendly. I hope it's the latter.
In all my experience at Bobafro Bubble Tea shop was insightful as I got to learn more about Bubble Tea and delicious thanks to my Passion Fruit Bubble Tea.
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The future looks incredibly bright for Bobafro as they plan to expand across the city with this business model and also to be very active during fairs and markets which have become popular in Ghana.
Looking for BobAfro, refer to the directions here on Google Maps. It’s ideally located by the road leading to A&C mall from American House. No need to worry about parking space or security. Bobafro Teas are definitely worth a try.