Tea With Bite: Bubble Tea

by William I. Lengeman III

For those unfamiliar with an offbeat beverage called bubble tea, also known as boba, their first experience can be surprising, to say the least. Though it’s actually more like a tea-based drink than actual tea, bubble tea takes its name from the small pearls of tapioca that reside in the bottom of the cup and make the drink so unique.

Pearl Milk Bubble TeaThe exact origins of bubble tea are a matter of some disagreement, but it’s likely that it originated in Asia in the early 1980s. By 2006, the owners of Taiwan’s Hanlin Tea Room and Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House duked it out in a courtroom there. Each of these bubble tea vendors contended that they had originated the drink. Regardless of the truth of its origins, there’s no question that bubble tea soon became very popular, first in Asia and later in the West, including Canada and the United States.

Bubble tea is made with some combination of tea, fruit and other flavorings, sweeteners, ice, tapioca pearls (boba) and sometimes milk or non-dairy creamer. The beverage is served in a cup and includes an extra large straw through which the tapioca pearls can be sucked up. Caution is highly recommended.

There are numerous variations on the basic bubble tea motif. Even the boba, which used to be limited to a standard black or brown ball of tapioca, have given way to alternatives. Among these, green tapioca balls, egg pudding, aloe pieces and various types of jelly, often shaped into cubes or strips.

The increased popularity of bubble tea has resulted in numerous kiosks and cafes that feature it. Some of the better known bubble tea merchants include Lollicup Coffee & Tea, with outlets in more than 10 states; Quickly, whose U.S. outlets are found in northern California and Nevada; and Tapioca Express, with locations in three states and Canada.

If bubble tea hasn’t come to your area yet, there’s no need to despair. This video will brief you on the art of making cold bubble tea. For additional insight on how to make bubble tea, click on the link. As for the fine art of cooking those tapioca pearls, check out this article.

Check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

One thought on “Tea With Bite: Bubble Tea

  1. Pingback: Keep on (Tea) Trucking « Tea Blog

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