What is Bubble Tea? - A Crash Course on the Popular Drink

You may have heard of  “bubble tea” and are growing curious about the strange marbles at the bottom of people’s drinks or the concept of milk tea. If you’re trying to hop on the trendy beverage but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered with this post!

 

Brown sugar milk tea

 

What is Bubble Tea? 

Bubble tea, put simply, is a delicious drink from Taiwan that can be a mix of tea and milk, or tea and fruit. After adding the chewy tapioca pearls, you have yourself a cup of bubble tea! Most commonly, the staple Pearl Milk Tea is made of black tea, milk, and tapioca pearls. Of course, as the popularity of bubble tea rages on, new interpretations pop up with new drink bases and toppings for us to try. You can add fruit jellies, brown sugar syrup, grass jelly, etc. There are so many possibilities with bubble tea that you can customize for yourself!


Where Did It Come From? 

In the 1980s, bubble tea came to its current fruition in Taiwan, but its creation began in the 1940s. A mixologist named Chang Fan Shu had been working at an izakaya in Japan during the second world war. In 1949, he opened his own tea shop and began selling iced tea shaken in a cocktail shaker. This process of handshaken tea is called “shou yao” and is still essential to making proper bubble tea. 

Tea steeper


However, it wasn’t until the mid-80s when Taiwanese entrepreneur, Tu Tsong He, jumped on the tea shop trend that was taking over the island after his hot pot restaurant failed to take off. Tu began experimenting with tea and the tapioca pearls he’d snacked on as a child in order to create something that set him aside from other tea shops. Thus, inventing what we know today as Pearl Milk Tea. His first tea shop, Hanin, opened in 1986 and became the first store to sell the drink that is still so popular today worldwide. 


You can absolutely make bubble tea fit your taste with the amount of variety it comes with. Just as long as you keep the tea and shou yao that makes up its soul.