So, I decided to make my own boba tea.
It’s not the first time I have tried to do this – I once tried to make it with taro (note: taro requires a certain level of expertise, I ended up with a sticky, gluggy mess) – this time, however, I used coconut milk which only requires being able to open a can!
Then came the hard part. I needed a big enough straw for the tapioca pearls.
It was too early for the boba tea shop near my house to be open (which was probably lucky as it this stage I hadn’t realised the word I had looked up for “straw” in my Chinese dictionary actually meant the kind of straw you feed to cows and make into hay bales).
I put the bottle of tea in my bag and headed off to work deciding to find an open boba tea shop on the way.
While on the train I managed to find the right word for drinking straw (and, even the right measure word – which any Chinese learner will know is a constant struggle where you end up sounding super amateur and just auto defaulting to “个” (“ge”) for everything).
I eventually found an open boba tea shop, and, repeating what I want to say over and over again in my head I walked up to the store (I get a lot of stage fright when it comes to speaking Chinese. It’s like the nightmare of turning up to school naked except the lack of preparation isn’t something you can fix simply by putting on some clothes, it takes years to be prepared so you just have to go in unprepared every time).
The shop assistant was out the back and the fat boba straws were sitting right in front of me on the counter. I did consider just taking one but the thought of missing this, much prepapared for, language opportunity (not the stealing part) convinced me to wait.
Me: “你 会 说 中文 吗？nǐ huì shuō zhōngwén ma?” (“do you speak Chinese?”)
Her: “会 huì” (“yes” followed by a few other words I didn’t understand)
Me: “我 可以 买 一 支 吸管 wǒ kěyǐ mǎi yī zhī xīguǎn？” (“can I buy a straw?”)
Her: (a lot of words I couldn’t understand, probably indicating some surprise and confusion that I wanted to buy just a straw)
Me: “我 做 茶。。。wǒ zuò chá” (“I make tea…” getting the tea out of my bag)
Her: *laughing* take a straw for free!
This may seem like a small thing but every little interaction I have in Chinese drives me to keep learning and this one even came with the added bonus of boba tea and who doesn’t like bonus boba tea?!