Sherman's Food Adventures: The Alley

The Alley

If you've been driving down Hornby just past Nelson in Downtown Vancouver, you might've noticed the long line of people in front of The Alley.   This is just the latest Taiwanese chain to hit the Lower Mainland where it merely adds yet another option for bubble tea.   They've been operating in Ontario and this is their first foray into BC.  What sets them apart is that they make their own cane sugar syrup and "Deerioca" from scratch.  I was recently invited to try out several of their signature drinks and thankfully skip the line.  Hey, I'm not about to decline skipping the huge lineup!

So one of their most popular drinks is from their fresh milk series - Royal No.9.  This was definitely milky and almost creamy.  There was no doubt about the milk flavour where there was some floral fruity aspects to it (thanks to the blueberry-infused black tea).  It was almost like vanilla but not.  The sweetness was really balanced and it didn't overwhelm.  As for the pearls, they were perfectly chewy while not being hard or too soft.  There was a deep rich sweetness to them that was welcomed as the drink wasn't that sweet to begin with.  We were recommended the White Peach Oolong from their "The Finest Collection".  Now this was the complete opposite from the subtle flavours of the Royal No.9.  This was very strong and bitter where I got big hits of tea, but very little peach.  I'm sure those who like powerful natural-tasting tea would be all over this.  For me, it was too pungent.

From their signature Brown Sugar Deerioca series, we had the Deerioca Fever with soy milk and the Deerioca Matcha with fresh milk.  Okay, these were my favourite as predictably, the brown sugar featured deep caramelized sugary notes.  As much as the soy milk version was thinner and lighter than fresh milk, it was still quite good.  Of course there was the usual soy milk taste, but it was tempered by the rich sweetness of the chewy pearls.  Onto the matcha, it had just enough aroma and bitterness for impact while not being over-bearing.  This ensured there was harmony between the green tea, fresh milk and brown sugar pearls.  It all created a pleasing drink that went down smooth while providing subtle impact.

Going in a complete different direction, the Aurora Series featured 2 drinks including Morning Dawn (jasmine green tea, mango slush and, again, butterfly-pea-flower tea) and Northern Lights (apple vinegar, grape slush and butterfly-pea-flower tea).  Fruity, aromatic and floral, the morning dawn was fairly sweet.  It was still refreshing though albeit subtle.  I was more drawn to the Northern lights due to the tang from the vinegar and fruitiness from the grape slush.  It was also pretty sweet, but the tang helped balance it out.  Okay, after trying 6 drinks from The Alley, it made me appreciate the differences that exist amongst all of the available bubble tea shops in Greater Vancouver.  I can see why there is still an insatiable thirst for more choices.  The drinks at The Alley were good and had their own personality.  I would personally go back and have it again.

*All beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- As for the bubble teas, they were purposefully sweet with balanced flavours
- On point brown sugar pearls (loved the warm temperature in relation to the cold drink)
- Surprisingly good floral fruity aspects to the milk tea

The Bad:
- White Peach Oolong was a bit too strong for my tastes
- Cold drinks could've been a bit less sweet

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