Later in the afternoon I stopped by Dobra tea room down on Lexington Street for some Vietnamese bubble tea. I first tasted this tea in Brooklyn a few years ago while visiting my son and his wife and baby. One afternoon when I was pushing my then-nine month old grandson Nate in his stroller and we passed a Vietnamese sandwich shop where we had ordered take out from the night before. I had to have some more bubble tea, so Nate and I went in and got some. It's a cold, milky tea served with giant chewy tapioca balls that you drink through a very wide straw. Nate was at the age of wanting to try everything anyone around him was eating or drinking, so I gave him a sip of my tea. He loved it and didn't want to give it back. The greatest fun for him was when a ball would glug through the straw and surprise him. It's my favorite part of the bubble tea experience too.
I searched and searched for bubble tea when I got back to Asheville and finally found it at Dobra. The version that Dobra makes is so excellent: the tea can be of your own choosing from among their literally hundreds of teas and tisanes. The milk can be regular milk, soy milk, or sunflower seed milk (my choice since I don't like milk and sunflower milk is somehow less offensively milky than milk). The tapioca pearls (I have learned they are called) are not sugary but very subtly flavored and of a perfect consistency. They put tiny ice cubes in the glass, and sometimes a bit of ice travels up the fat straw with a few pearls.