Peet’s Coffee & Tea has decided to join the bubble tea game, and Chronicle critic Soleil Ho would like to know why.
It may just be an experimental dip into the world of boba, but Peet’s launched a “Summer of Jelly” menu that features multiple drink options that contain these elongated, brown sugar jelly “pills” as Ho describes them. There may be multiple new menu items — a couple permanent, some seasonal — but there’s only one “jelly” option as an add-in, unlike boba shops where you can add tapioca pearls, other custard pearls, and aloe pulp, and other things.
And, Ho writes, while the menu may be “inspired by Taiwanese bubble tea… it imitates boba as well as broccoli imitates a fern.”
Ho kindly offers that the slight chewiness of these brown sugar jellies is “pleasant,” however, “they made an already-sweet drink super sweet, which was not pleasant.”
Peet’s launched the Summer of Jelly menu in early June, and allegedly, now and forever, the brown sugar jelly add-ins can be added to any drink, full stop. The new permanent menu items are the Brown Sugar Cold Brew Oat Latte and the Iced Brown Sugar Matcha Oat Latte. Limited-time menu items include the Citrus Green Tea Shaker with Brown Sugar Jelly, which is “hand-shaken with floral Yuzu purée, lemonade, and real citrus slices” over a scoop of jelly; and the Strawberry Lemon Tea Shaker with Brown Sugar Jelly, which is “hand-shaken with lemonade and tangy strawberry purée.”
You’ll note, as Ho does, that all reference to boba, the Taiwanese bubble tea that inspired these jelly drinks, is gone in these descriptions. It’s just “jelly,” a “plant-based,” Americanized retread of something distinctly Asian, but with no credit to Asia.
And it’s not likely to compete for attention among bubble tea aficionados given the plethora of better boba around the Bay Area and other cities across the country. “Still, maybe,” Ho writes, “there’s a chance if people start to view the Peet’s jellies the way some Mexicans view Taco Bell: as not the real deal, but a funhouse version of it that exists in a category of its own.”