Bubble tea may have originated in Taiwan, but that does not mean Japan hasn't figured out how to bend its deliciousness to their seasonal tastes. If you weren't already convinced there was no flavor milky tapioca-laden tea couldn't conquer (my usual go-to is taro), then let me take you one step closer by introducing apple cinnamon.
Bumming around the East exit of Shinjuku station, I couldn't help but notice this sign:
That's bubble tea shop Pearl Lady's sippin' 'n struttin' mascot, Sue-chan, and her dog, Tappy (who loves tapioca), showing off their festive fall flavor: "The crisp texture of the apple and lightly fragrant flavor of the cinnamon combine for a rich taste." We'll see about that! You can get your tea with or without milk, hot or cold, and accompany it with one of three apple cinnamon crepes (whipped cream, custard, or vanilla). 320 yen for a regular size is a tad over US $4, which is what a friend and I paid. This tasting would not be complete without a sip of both hot and cold.
Pictured above is the cold version of the apple cinnamon milk tea! We picked black tapioca, but they had colored ones as well. I committed a rookie error by allowing them to put ice in my cup—that made it very difficult in the later stages to get at the remaining bubbles and—and (!) see those lighter colored bits in the cup kind of on top of the black blobs? Yeah, that's apple, my friends. They are not kidding about the 'crisp texture' because they put some chopped fruit right into your tea! I wanted to vacuum up every last chunk, but it was just too much effort.
How did it taste? "It's like apple pie in a cup!" was the first thing out of my friend's mouth. Agree and agree, yes and yes, at which point I rate the hot variety higher than cold, since I'm a fan of apple pie that starts steaming when walloped with 'la mode.' What makes this drink, though, regardless of temperature, are those little nibbles of apple that occasionally come whooshing through your oversized straw. They not only "make it seem healthier" (a futile endeavor to be sure, but this is what my tasting buddy noted, haha), but also just complement the creamy milk and gummy tapioca in a way not entirely unlike advertised on the sign.
You may still prefer apple cider, or pie for that matter (I gotta say I am a pretty big pie fan; maybe we should have tried a crepe), but Pearl Lady's apple cinnamon milk tea lives up to the name with flying colors; we couldn't have expected more.