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What Is Bubble Tea (aka Boba Tea)
What Is Bubble Tea (aka Boba Tea)

What Is Bubble Tea (aka Boba Tea)

Bubble tea developed in Taiwan is a tea-based beverage. It’s usually made with tea and chewy tapioca balls but can also be created with different toppings, such as nuts or dried fruit. While bubble tea (or boba tea) refers to the drink itself, boba refers to the tapioca balls added to it. Boba is an essential component in a bubble or pearl milk tea drinks. Because of their chewiness, the boba balls provide a new texture to this popular drink.

The history of bubble tea

Wasn’t there a beginning to it all? The beverage has its origins in the 1940s. Chang Fan Shu was a mixologist at an Izakaya in Taiwan under Japanese authority after WWII. He founded a tea store in 1949 that sold Shou Yao (hand-shaken) tea prepared with cocktail shakers. The tea shop is still open today.

On top of the foamy tea came a smooth, rich flavor. The shou yao ingredient of boba is now a must-have. No bubble tea, no show yao. Iced drinks were rare in Taiwan in those days. The notion of eating and drinking for enjoyment had just begun to take hold in the country after the war. In the years to come, the island’s love affair with delicious cool beverages became stronger.

How is bubble tea made?

The popular drink is typically made using a tea base. There are three types of common foundations for the beverage: black, green, and oolong tisanes. The beverages are then flavored with milk or fruit (i.e., mango, lychee, grapefruit, etc.). In the end, there are add-inss like boba, aloe vera, chia seeds, or egg pudding, to mention a few.

Boba tea varieties

In addition to black tea, green tea, and oolong tea, bubble tea is also available in white tea. Unknown in China but famous in Hong Kong, yuenyeung is made from black tea combined with coffee and milk. Blended tea drinks are another variation of the beverage. In many cases, these variants are either ice cream-based or tea-and-fruit smoothies.

Disadvantages of boba tea

Even though many of us enjoy this drink, it contains a lot of sugar. A particular study has linked obesity and type 2 diabetes in Asians with boba milk tea sugar levels. Most of the time, the tapioca pearls are little more than starch dipped in sugar. There is a lot of sugar in this drink. A serving of boba tea, which is typically 473 ml contains approximately 263 calories (kcal) and 38 grams of sugar. The amount of sugar is equivalent to that found in a can of coke or juice.


In Southeast Asia shops usually sell the beverage in a plastic takeout cup, sealed with plastic. Newcomers often use bottles and another packaging to differentiate their products. Some people have even abandoned the bottle in favor of plastic bags. A plastic cup with a sealed lid is still the most common packaging technique.

Boba has become an international addiction

The drink has been increasingly popular throughout the years. Market researchers anticipate the bubble tea business to increase in value by nearly $2 billion by 2027, reaching a whopping $4.3 billion.

Boba tea orders in Southeast Asia increased by 3,000 percent in 2018. The drink has been appearing on menus outside of Asia for quite some time. Germany, for example, included this drink on its McDonald’s menu in 2012.

Find out everything about bubble tea on the blog of Bubble Tea Party!

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