REFRESHING FALL BEVERAGE

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Tea for kids that adults like, too! Bubble tea at Lollicup. The very thought reminds me of simpler days when I worried about such things as having tea parties with my stuffed animals. What is bubble tea? A drink invented in Taiwan in the early 1980s by pushcart tea vendors who competed for sales outside of elementary schools. One clever vendor added fruit flavors to tea and vigorously shook, creating bubbles. How totally kid. Another vendor took the idea a step further, adding tapioca pearls, thus creating the illusion of big bubbles sitting on the bottom of each cup.

Today, bubble tea is still shaken and the imbiber merrily sips "boba," those characteristic dark tapioca pearls 6mm in diameter, through an uncharacteristically large straw. Orlando has a delicious little bubble-tea hut of its own called Lollicup. Owners Quang Vu and Angela Vu have just opened their third location in Central Florida on the corner of Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue, which is many a tea party in kid talk. The space is small and colorful, just a place to stop in for a moment or two, but not to lounge.

Tea makers busy themselves mixing and stirring and shrink-wrapping customer selections with a special Lollicup closed-seal-to-go system. No need for a lid, just pop a straw through the shrink-wrap and you're good to go. Neat-O. I couldn't decide on just one, so I tried three: almond coconut milk with boba ($3.50); avocado smoothie with boba (4.50); and a baffling concoction of "four-color pudding chocolate, eggnog, milk and taro" mixed together, poured in a cup, studded with boba and other candied fruit jewels, shrink-wrapped and handed to me by Quang, who promptly said, "Wow. You're really adventurous," which translates into, "Wow. You're really overdoing it."

Four-color pudding ($4.50) was the mudpie of the tea party, for sure. The other two drinks were nothing short of delicious and fun. The almond coconut milk was subtly tannic, and mellowed into a fragrant, creamy blend. My favorite, and the one I was most skeptical about, turned out to be the avocado smoothie, a sweet shake made with real Haas avocados. I wish they had this around when I was a kid.

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