Author: Lisa Kresl

You know you serve something special when people from Houston road-trip to buy your food.

Fat Straws Bubble Tea Co. is known for its bubble tea, but the mochi doughnuts now called “chewy puff doughnuts” have neighbors here and in surrounding states swooning.

Walk into the shop with bright graphics and a whirring blender, and you’ll find customers lining up for boba. Workers spend two hours each morning creating tapioca balls that will swim and swirl in your milky tea. The drinks are all the rage on the West Coast, so it’s a pleasure to find the concoction here. Sample handcrafted beverages from classic teas to fruit smoothies and slushes.

Owners Jennifer and Terry Pham, who have three children, opened the first Fat Straws location in 2002 after years working in information technology. Their motto is “happiness in a cup.” Expect creative blends of kosher and loose-leaf organic teas. Regulars include students from Ursuline, Hockaday, Jesuit, St. Mark’s, Greenhill and Parish Episcopal School.

The Phams test-taste their recipes with their children. “If my kids like it, then the other kids will like it,” Terry says. But the two also listen to their customers. “They say, ‘Oh, you know what I’d really like? Put these flavors together.’ We listen to them. It has to be aesthetically pleasing and Instagrammable.”

New on the menu is the “foam series,” which is a line of brewed teas, including Earl Grey, matcha and a jasmine milk tea.

The recipe includes heavy cream, cream cheese and sea salt whipped into froth and poured onto the tea. Drink from a sippy lid to taste tea, cream and foam. “You get this unique, sweet and savory component,” Terry says. “That’s my new favorite. We sell a lot of it.”

Jennifer’s favorite is the matcha milk tea with salted foam. “But my go-to is the classic milk tea, which is the traditional bubble tea with black tea, cream and sugar,” she says. One daughter loves chocolate-strawberry, which isn’t on the menu. The other daughter loves mango-strawberry fresca, which is fresh mango and strawberry infused in water. Their son loves the taro. “It has a taste of a Danish butter cookie — almost a cookies and cream flavor.”

The mochi doughnuts, which are hand-dipped with glazes made from scratch, are concocted from rice flour. They have a soft, chewy texture. Envision blocks of Swiss chocolate and organic fruit as toppings. Try the sea salt caramel version. Busy times are from 2 to 6 p.m. then after dinner.

Fat Straws 

11810 Preston Road, Suite 150

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.