Jane Dai ’17 spearheads Goodrich’s bubble tea debut

Last week, Goodrich Coffee Bar began serving bubble tea during its night hours on Tuesdays. Photo courtesy of Emma Schwartz.
Last week, Goodrich Coffee Bar began serving bubble tea during its night hours on Tuesdays. Photo courtesy of Emma Schwartz.

Catering and Special Events Manager Jane Dai ’17  has brought bubble tea to Goodrich Coffee Bar’s evening hours.

For those unfamiliar with Goodrich’s newest offering, bubble tea  originally comes from Taiwan. Inventor Lin Hsiu Hui gave the world bubble tea in 1988, after reportedly pouring a sweetened pudding with tapioca balls into an iced tea drink he was sipping during a meeting. Typically, the tea is mixed with a milk base and topped off with tapioca pearls or fruit jellies.

Bubble tea is usually served in plastic cups with dome-shaped lids and oversized straws to allow for the tapioca pearls to pass through easily. The drink became popular throughout East and Southeast Asia towards the end of the 20th century and has surged in popularity in North America

After the Chinese American Student Organization (CASO) hosted a bubble tea night at the Bar last May, Dai noted that bubble tea could be a good addition at Goodrich and got the gears in motion for a fall 2016 launch of Goodrich’s own bubble tea.

“Given the fact that I enjoy feeding people — my friends call me soccer mom — I started thinking about expanding the Goodrich menu,” Dai said. “The only experience I have with [bubble tea] prior to Goodrich was helping out with CASO’s Harvest Moon Festival … and experimenting with Driscoll [Dining Hall] tea to keep myself awake and to avoid the dessert trays.”

Because of the anticipated popularity of bubble tea at the Bar, the logistics of preparing it and the special ingredients and materials required, Dai decided to make the Taiwanese tea-based drink available only once a week and exclusively during Goodrich’s night hours. After a great deal of planning, Dai announced Nov. 1 as the launch date and was behind the bar serving up bubble tea with a Thai milk base, replete with tapioca pearls that can also be added to any Goodrich drink.

“Dining Services has been so, so wonderful and generous with letting us use [its] kitchen space to cook and [flavor] the tapioca pearls,” Dai said. “I’ve been getting help from baristas interestd in prepping with me; we’ll spend around an hour in the afternoon brewing the tea concentrate.”

Dai plans on making two milk tea bases available each week, with the flavors depending on “the managers’ whims and fancies,” and recommends patrons opt for a 50-50 ratio between milk base and tea. The bubble tea takes a mere $3 out of Eph pocketbooks and the addition of tapioca pearls brings the total cost to $3.50.

The bubble teas are quite good. The Thai milk base is strong yet sweet while the tapioca pearls add an interesting twist. As for Dai, who originally applied to work at Goodrich “to fulfill a childhood dream of [hers] to work in a coffee/tea/ice cream shop,” her heart will always belong to aromatic teas. “I really like aromatic teas, so jasmine green tea and oolong tea are my absolute favorites. Taro is up there as well, and one day I will have the time to actually make taro milk tea from scratch,” she said.

For the time being though, Dai will stay in Williamstown to help brighten the late nights of countless students at Goodrich.