Bubble Tea Aspires to Go Mainstream in Beirut
Bubble tea first descended upon Beirut in 2011, when a small hole in the wall aptly dubbed BubbleT opened next door to what was once Burger Nation in Hamra, where ZWZ presently stands. The Lebanese public was heretofore unfamiliar with the Taiwanese specialty beverage, which is tea-based and in its original format filled with tapioca balls. The tiny location in Hamra didn’t do much in the way of heightening general awareness about bubble tea, and even the kiosk that opened in City Mall Dora next to the food court never seemed to draw a crowd.
Four years have passed, and a German bubble tea brand wants to do something about mainstreaming the pearl milk tea in Lebanon. Meito was born in Munich, utilizing the smarts of engineers and robotic designers to revolutionize the way bubble tea is crafted. You pick the tea base—green tea, jasmine tea, or black milk tea; then the flavor, ranging from the fruity (e.g., blueberry, mango, passion fruit and lychee are but a few) to the more luxurious (e.g., almond, chocolate, soya milk, vanilla); and finally, the spheres (tapioca pearls, popping bobas filled with fruit syrup, or JELL-O-like jellies). Step back and admire the barista as he concocts your order with the help of some fancy gadgetry.
|Traditional bubble tea is made of black tea, milk, and tapioca pearls
Meito became a sensation in Munich and extended its footprint to an international scale, first venturing into Egypt. Given its popularity in the North African country, Meito management decided to head to Beirut, and they’ve opened the first of seven planned strongholds in Ain Mreisseh, exactly where the storied Hard Rock Café used to stand.
I had the opportunity to visit the café and enjoy not only bubble tea but breakfast as well. Opting for the savory—poached eggs on toast doused with hollandaise—among sweeter options including a fruit cup, yogurt parfait, and pancakes, I was dazzled when the plate proved to be scrumptious. Two delicate eggs resting on a bed of sautéed spinach and diced onions atop two halves of an English muffin gush silkily when poked at with a fork. Sop up the pool of yoke and hollandaise with the muffin, but you’ll probably require more bread, as the portion provided weighs in on the modest side. Ask if you can have your bread toasted—I love it crispy.
|Poached eggs with hollandaise
Besides breakfast and bubble tea, Meito boasts frozen yogurt with a considerable selection of toppings, as well as a display of enticing baked goods that you’d find inside a local Starbucks. In fact, judging by the looks of the goodies on offer, I think Meito employs the same supplier, Zouk Mosbeh-based Le Meilleur.
|Pain aux raisins, or a raisin roll
Meito provides indoor seating and an outdoor terrace. The views of the Mediterranean are absolutely stunning and unobstructed, even from Meito’s ground-level perch. This is the perfect place to bring a book or magazine or plug in your laptop (once the wifi is functional) as you enjoy a novel refreshing beverage a mere step from the seaboard.
Meito is hosting a grand opening celebration Saturday, March 7, from 6 to 9 PM. If you’re in the area, drop by for the festivities and a taste of the goodness they’re bringing to Beirut.
|Sampling a few different flavor combinations of bubble tea