Taiwanese boba tea meets seasonal SoCal

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A small city like Santa Barbara tends to be a few steps behind cities like L.A. and San Francisco when it comes to food and beverage trends. That’s true when it comes to boba tea, a Taiwanese drink that combines fresh tea with tapioca pearls, a starch extracted from the cassava root and flavored through a sugar soak.

3feb80fa-62cf-4c81-b4c8-eb2a4b6ed60b“Coming from San Diego, bubble tea is something I grew up with,” said Mike Norris, owner of 805 Boba. “It’s been slow to get to Santa Barbara, but it’s now an emerging market.”

His shop, which opened this year in downtown Santa Barbara, serves boba tea in just about every flavor and color you can imagine. His menu is ever changing, and includes a weekly rotating Farmers Market edition.

“The idea is to show up at the farmers market, see what’s in season, and make something from there,” said Norris.

He met up with Katie Hershfelt at the market this week.

Mike Norris of 805 Boba picks up lavender at Earthtrine Farm. Photo: Kathryn Barnes

9Lavender Simple Syrup

      • Destem fresh flowers.
      • Put them in a pot of water and bring to boil, then bring to a simmer.
      • Steep the flowers like a tea, for about 15 minutes.
      • Strain the flowers out, and add sugar to the lavender water until it reaches the desired taste or thickness.

“Although the flowers are bright, only the essence of the smell and flavor come out,” said Norris. You can add food coloring if you want to give it that purple hue.

Drizzle the syrup over drinks, mix into Taro tea or Jasmine Green Tea, or use the flavor on its own as a Lavender milk tea.

The same can be done with other herbs and flowers, like rose petals, mint and basil.

A mango slush “spiced up” with Mexican spices and strawberry tapioca pearls. Photos: Mike Norris
Strawberry slush with strawberry tapioca pearls. Photo: Mike Norris