Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea, boba milk tea, and QQ tea is a refreshing drink that has taken the world by storm.
It is made with black or green tea, sugar, and tapioca pearls.
So where did bubble tea come from?
And is it Japanese?
Let’s take a closer look at the origins of bubble tea.
Table of Contents
What is Bubble Tea
So, what exactly is bubble tea?
Bubble tea is a beverage made with tea as a base, and then milk or fruit flavors are added.
The “bubbles” in bubble tea are tapioca pearls that give the drink a unique sensation. Once everything is mixed together, the drink is usually served cold over ice.
Bubble tea has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among young people.
There are many different ways to make bubble tea, so there’s sure to be a flavor (or several!) that you’ll love.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to all things bubble tea.
Where did Bubble Tea Originate
The earliest known mention of bubble tea comes from a Taiwanese tea shop owner in the 1980s.
He used small pearls made from tapioca flour to top off his drinks to differentiate himself from other tea stands.
When school kids were done for the day, they’d look forward to getting tea after school.
They would find their favorite tea stand, but to win the kids over, the stands would have to stand out.
With the tapioca pearls, the tea shop owner found his niche.
The squishy texture of the tapioca pearls was a huge hit with the kids and word quickly spread throughout Taiwan.
Bubble tea quickly became a global phenomenon in the 1990s thanks to the rise of Chinese immigrants in western countries.
These entrepreneurs opened up their own bubble tea shops, introducing the drink to new audiences who had never heard of it before.
At the same time, an increasing number of Westerners were traveling to Asia, where they discovered and fell in love with bubble tea.
Today – You can find bubble tea shops all around the world. Although it originally hails from Taiwan, bubble tea has become a truly global drink people of all cultures enjoy.
The Many Names of Bubble Tea
the drink with chewy bubbles goes by many different names, mostly because of how many different countries it’s made in.
These are the most popular names for bubble tea:
- Boba: This is the most common name for bubble tea in Taiwan. “Boba” refers to the tapioca pearls used as a topping, not the entire drink.
- Bubble tea: This term was coined in the West and is now used interchangeably with “boba.”
- Pearl milk tea: Another name for bubble tea that’s commonly used in China.
- Tapioca tea: This name emphasizes the tapioca pearls that are used as a topping or ingredient in bubble tea.
- QQ tea: In China, “Q” is used to describe something chewy, and “QQ” means extra chewy. As you can probably guess, this name refers to the tapioca pearls in bubble tea.
How is Bubble Tea Made
Making bubble tea at home is easier than you might think!
All you need is some black tea, milk or nondairy milk, tapioca pearls, sugar (optional), and ice.
If you want to add flavoring to your drink, you can also use fruit syrups or purées.
Here’s a basic recipe to get you started:
- Combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of tapioca pearls in a small saucepan over medium heat. After bringing the tapioca pearls to a boil, reduce the heat and let them simmer in the water for 15 minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup of sugar (if using) and stir until dissolved. Let the mixture cool completely.
- Brew black tea according to package instructions. Once brewed, add 1/4 cup of milk or nondairy milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar (if using) and stir until combined.
- Pour the tea into a glass filled with ice cubes, then add the cooked tapioca pearls.
Bubble Tea Flavors
There are endless possibilities when it comes to making bubble tea at home.
You can get creative and experiment with different flavor combinations until you find the perfect bubble tea flavor.
1. Classic Milk Tea
Classic milk tea is a black tea that is brewed with milk and sugar.
The tea is typically served iced, although it can also be served hot.
Classic milk tea is a popular choice for those who are new to bubble tea, as it is not too sweet and has a familiar flavor.
2. Jasmine Tea
Jasmine tea is a type of green tea that is flavored with jasmine blossoms.
The tea has a light, floral flavor and is often used as a base for other bubble tea flavors.
3. Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey tea is a type of black tea that gets its flavor from the oil from the rind of the Bergamot orange.
The tea has a citrusy flavor that pairs well with milk and sugar.
4. Oolong Tea
Oolong tea is a type of Chinese black tea that falls somewhere between green and black tea in terms of oxidation level.
The tea has a complex flavor ranging from fruity to floral to woodsy, making it a popular choice for bubble tea lovers.
5. Fruit Teas
Fruit teas are made by infusing fruits or fruit juices into water or milk.
These teas can be made with any type of fruit, but some of the most popular choices include mango, strawberry, and lychee.
So, is bubble tea Japanese? Well, no!
Bubble tea was invented in Taiwan and has become a global phenomenon.
Wherever you find yourself traveling, you can find a delicious cup of bubble tea waiting for you.
So what are you waiting for?
Get out there and try some!
- Best Izakaya Foods for a Relaxed Night Out (My Top 10 Picks)
- Edo Kiriko Whiskey Glasses (Japanese Heritage in Every Pour)
- Japanese Viral Foods on Social Media (Discover the Top 10)
- Amezaiku: 10 Amazing Examples of Japanese Candy Art
- 25 Must-Try Japanese Desserts: Old and New
- Sipping in Style: Exploring the World of Sake Sets