Fill a plastic cup with green tea and flavored syrup, throw in a handful of slimy brown tapioca pods and hermetically seal it in a special machine with cartoon-printed plastic wrap, and you have bubble tea. The latest in the ever-evolving genre of trendy youth-culture beverages, it's more fun than a chai latte and has the added advantage of not being Starbucks. Boba (the gummy pellets a certain RFT
editor has likened to something seen on Fear Factor
) are optional, but we enjoy hoovering 'em up through the goofy oversized straw. Bubble tea, which originated a decade ago in Taiwan, is showing up in coffeehouses around town, but the most hilarious place to get it is St. Louis Bubble Tea in the Loop. A dedicated bubble-tea bar, it's staffed with bubbly youth who advise you on which of the 101 flavors to choose. Though technically it contains no actual tea, our current favorite is the chocolate-strawberry slush.