History of Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea is a refreshing sweet drink, made unique by using tapioca balls and tea or juice mixed with fruit syrup or milk, other variations exist. It originated in Taiwan, but soon spread far and wide in continent and in popularity. The tea is shaken to infuse the flavors, forming bubbles at the top. It is often sold cold in plastic see-through cups and large brightly-colored straws to suck up the tapioca balls.  

♦ The origins of Bubble Tea

There is dispute as to the inventor of this tea; two tea-houses in Taiwan claim this honor, although there is no substantial proof.

Chun Shui Tang in Taichung City and Hanlin Teahouse in Tainan City are known as the main two rivals in claiming to have invented the tea.

It could be that they both invented the tea at around the same time, or were both inspired by something else they had seen, but no one knows for sure. The only certain piece of information is that it was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s.

The tea started out mainly as an after school treat for children and teenagers. The Bubble tea was sold at tea stands outside schools. Children looked forward to this delicious treat that was originally sold as a hot drink and not cold, as is the popular version sold today.

The original bubble tea consisted of hot black tea, honey, condensed milk and cooked tapioca pearls or boba.

♦ How Bubble Tea gained its popularity / When did Bubble Tea become so popular

Bubble tea was only popular among mostly children in Taiwan and wasn’t spread afar until a Japanese TV show promoted it, after that it was soon added to vending machines and increased its popularity with nearby Asian countries in the 90s.

♦ Other names Bubble Tea is known by

With the increase in its popularity and proliferation throughout the Asian as well as Western countries, Bubble Tea has acquired a whole host of names that people call it by, as is the case with most items that are hits in popular culture. Here are just some names,  there are bound to be more:

Tapioca ball drink, pearl shake, pearl tea, boba tea, bubble drink, boba bai cha, momi milk.

♦ How the tea got its name

When flavor is added to the tea it is shaked well for a good all round taste, then the bubbles form which give the tea its name. The bubbles are not referred to the tapioca balls that are seen at the bottom, which is a common misconception.

♦ Variations of the tea today

Bubble Tea is very popular today in various parts of the US and Canada. Most variations of the tea today are served cold, even in many Asian countries. The tea has moved away from being the hot drink it once was, to a cold one, much like the cold Frappuccinos and other popular cold coffee drinks.

The tea has so much variation that there are now places that only cater to selling variant types of Bubble Tea. It can be made with green or black tea, sometimes fruit juices or syrups are replaced instead of tea, condensed milk or flavoured powder or syrup, shaved ice and sweet cubes of flavoured jelly are just some of the many options available.

The cold variety is served with large straws to allow the consumer to drink the tapioca balls, which are the soft and chewy balls at the bottom of the drink.

Sometimes fresh fruit, milk and crushed ice is used to create a healthy milkshake version.  

The tea began in the 1908s in Taiwan, as an after school treat for children, after being advertised on a popular Japanese TV show, it soon hit the other Asian countries and then moved to become a popular drink in various parts of the US and Canada. There is much dispute as to the inventor of the tea, however as its popularity grows so does its serving variations and consumer demand. This cool and refreshing drink, which is made unique by the tapioca balls is fashionable and a hit with the Western and Asian youth of today, as it was with the youth in the1980s in Taiwan.