Those that live in Shanghai seem to like their sweets. Most dishes, and especially drinks, in the city are sweetened with everything from honey to red bean paste. A lot of us had trouble finding “black coffee” without sweetened milk in the first couple of days. We needed the caffeine to cope with our jet-lag, but most of the bottled beverages you can buy in corner stores are sweetened teas or juices. I’m not complaining. I came to the fast conclusion that pearl milk tea (a.k.a. bubble tea) will be my new addiction while in Shanghai. It’s fantastic. The way bubble tea is packaged is pretty neat too. Once you order your drink from the counter after relying on pictures because you know about ten words in Chinese, the tea is put in a plastic cup and vacuum sealed shut so you can carry it out of the store in a plastic bag and save it for later.
The first time I was offered a beverage that rated lower on the sweet scale was when we visited a fish farm in Qingpu. After our tour of the grounds, we took rest and were offered steaming cups of loose tea to help refresh everyone after the long afternoon. The beverage was a nice change from the bubble tea that became a fast staple to my diet.