Maybe it's the chewy, addictive, tapioca boba balls or the twangy taste of the milky tea, but people simply can not get enough of bubble tea.
Bubble tea, a mixture of boba balls, milk tea and shaved ice, originated in Taiwan in the mid-80s. Milk tea has always been popular in Taiwan, as well as boba and shaved ice as popular desserts. The real game changer was when the three were mixed together. As it grew in popularity, the milk in the milk tea was replaced with a non-dairy creamer and syrups and toppings were added. Soon, it became known for its incredibly sweet, creamy taste and became a staple in Taiwanese culture.
“The base of your drink can be green tea, black tea, milk tea, fruity tea, coffee, a slushie, or a smoothie, to start,” Delish Magazine stated. “Most commonly, people go with milk teas (tea combined with either powdered or fresh milk and sometimes a sugary syrup) or a fruit-flavored beverage (options range from lemon to lychee to taro).”
Boba began its craze in America during the 90s following the widespread immigration of Taiwanese people. During this time, café cultures, like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, became more common. Bin Chen, founder of popular boba chain, Boba Guys, took this idea and ran with it opening shops all over the United States.
“Bubble tea has ballooned in popularity,” Chen said in an interview with Wine and Food Magazine, “because it's lighter, sweeter, and more fun than your average tea, thanks to the tapioca balls.”
Social media also played a huge part in the widespread popularity of bubble tea.
“Bubble tea shops started a trend of creating pretty drinks and encouraging customers to post aesthetic pictures of their quirky beverage online, starting a craze,” Luxury Viewer Magazine states.
2 cups of water for making the tea
6 black tea bags
1/2 cup of medium black tapioca pearls
1 cup of hot water for the pearls
2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of hot water
1/2 cup of ice
1/4 cup of half and half
In a medium pot over high heat, combine the water and tea bags and bring to a boil. Remove from heat once boiling and let the tea cool to room temperature
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat and add the tapioca pearls until softened. Refer to the cooking time on the black tapioca pearls’ bag.
Strain the tapioca pearls. Then, set the strainer with the pearls over a medium bowl, add the brown sugar and pour hot water over it.
Stir to dissolve the brown sugar and soak the pearls in the brown sugar syrup for 30 minutes. Store bubbles and syrup separately until ready to serve
To assemble, add however many pearls as wanted to the bottom of a cup, add ice, and then tea, half and half. Finally add brown sugar syrup to taste, and enjoy!
all photos and graphics by Lily Klau '23