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Taro, or yam, is not an uncommon flavour for Malaysian tastes. However, most of us know it as being bright purple, whether as a drink or ice-cream flavour.
Taiwanese chain The Alley may be considered a latecomer when it comes to a yam-flavoured bubble tea, but for good reason: their new series comes with real hand-mashed yam. Yes, actual chunks of softened root vegetables that the barista has to mash, into the cup, by hand, with each order.
The drinks come with two drink bases: their signature black milk tea, which most are familiar with, and a hojicha milk tea, which is made with roasted Japanese green tea.
The Taste Test
If you often drink The Alley, you would already be familiar with their black milk tea, sweet and milky. Their hojicha, on the other hand is fragrant and well-balanced.
Both new drinks come with two toppings: mini taro balls and mashed yam.
The taro balls are surprisingly similar to the taste and texture of regular boba, only with a slightly firmer bite. The texture of the mashed yam is soft enough to bite into and firm enough to enjoy what you’re tasting.
Both toppings have been soaked in cane sugar, so it’s not really like eating plain yam– as bubble tea toppings, both go surprisingly well together. You would never have imagined mashed yam to be anything other than mushy, but it goes down smooth with a lovely fragrance of taro.
This is a must-get for lovers of taro, simply for the fact that it’s actual real yam. No purple powder to be seen here, folks.
The hojicha goes exceptionally well with the taro toppings, the roasted flavours adding a certain depth to the drink that I did not expect. Even those who may not be particularly fond of matcha and other kinds of green tea would likely enjoy the hojicha + taro combo.
The drink also fills you up more than usual, likely due to all the starch from the root vegetables. Grab a lighter meal before your drink, or share with a friend instead.
The use of real mashed yam paired with milk tea is an interesting choice that The Alley pulled off quite well, and is certainly worth a try.