Originating in Taichung, Taiwan, in the early 1980s, Bubble tea is positively swoon-worthy with its eye-catching appearance and overall iconic look. Bubble tea, a tea-based drink, is often served in a tall clear glass, along with a wide-drinking boba straw. Chewy black-jeweled tapioca pearls, aka boba, can be seen nestled at the bottom of the glass.
This welcoming pop of Taiwanese culture would not be possible without Liu Han-Chieh's eagerness to serve cold tea after witnessing Japan's cold coffee boom in the 1980s. If cold coffee could be widely popular, Liu Han-Chieh, believed cold tea could be as well. Luckily his pursuit of a cold tea business successfully paid-off.
Liu Han Chieh started a teahouse, Chun Shui Tang, in the city of Taichung. It was there that bubble tea was officially born when Liu Han Chieh's product development manager, Lin Hsiu Hu, casually decided to pour the tapioca balls from her dessert into her iced tea.
It's a common misconception that bubble tea is called bubble tea due to the boba, or the bubble-like tapioca pearls that fill the bottom of the glass. But, the real reason lies in the fact that this delicious tea beverage is shaken, not stirred.
The notable "bubble" part of the name bubble tea refers to the frothy bubbles that appear at the top of the drink after being shaken. The iconic froth or bubbles will be more recognizable when milk or flavor has been added to the tea.
So what is boba? Quite simply, they're cassava starch balls. Nothing too fancy. Yet, once added to tea, plus other delicious toppings, it quickly elevates boba to another level. Lin Hsiu Hu seriously had the right idea when she added those marble-sized tapioca pearls to her tea!
So let's get this straight, the drink as a whole is called bubble tea, with boba or tapioca pearls at the bottom. But, sometimes bubble tea is also referred to as boba. Boba is also the most commonly ordered topping for this beloved Instagramable drink. Got it? Good.
Certainly, bubble tea has grown in popularity over the years since it first debuted in Taichung, Taiwan, in the 1980s. As Taiwan continues to lead the way in bubble tea culinary innovation, this incredibly unique beverage has surged in fame, becoming quite the global sensation, with bubble tea shops popping up all over for the bubble tea enthusiasts of the world.
Not to anyone's surprise, bubble tea's popularity soared, and so did the interest in creating new and exciting bubble tea bases and toppings. Wild and inventive flavors such as ube boba, boba topped with cheese, and sweet brown sugar boba took Instagram by storm. There is certainly no shortage of fun and creative bubble tea options.
But for bubble tea purists, bubble tea can be prepared with no milk at all, or it can be prepared with milk at its most basic level, transforming into classic milk tea.
Even with the plethora of bubble tea options, classic milk tea remains the most popular and requested flavor with bubble tea lovers. Classic milk tea is a simple mixture of strong black tea, milk, and tapioca pearls that have been soaked in a simple syrup.
Begin by boiling the four cups of water in a kettle. Once boiling, transfer the water to a large teapot. Steep the tea bags in the teapot, no longer than five minutes. Set aside to cool.
Although optional, simple syrup not only adds a sweet flavor to your boba, but it also reduces sticking and prevents the boba from drying out when you choose to soak them beforehand.
Although it may seem somewhat excessive, the amount of water used to prepare the tapioca pearls is essential in preventing melting and boba from sticking to the pot. You can use less water, but you risk burning, overcrowding, and excess starch.
Tapioca pearls are easily accessible online through Amazon. We recommend WuFuYuan's quick-cooking pearls or E-Fa. If you're looking to make your bubble tea experience ultra-authentic, don't forget to pick up some jumbo boba straws with angle tips!
Absolutely! Although milk and half and half are the most popular options for bubble tea, feel free to use other types of milk and dairy-free alternatives such as almond milk and oat milk. For a richer, more decadent bubble tea treat, try using heavy cream.
Preparing bubble tea at home is a unique way to mix up your beverage routine. It's also an affordable way to get a signature drink experience in the comfort of your own home.