Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea, is a sweet tea based drink originating from Taiwan in the 1980s and has since become popular across Asia and now the rest of the world. Originally, bubble tea was a sweet milky tea shaken until frothy, however it has since come to mean a sweet tea drink often made up with dark, chewy tapioca ‘pearls’ in it. The drink is served with a wide straw, big enough to allow the ‘pearls’ up.
There are now many variations you can choose for your tea. The flavour of your bubble tea can be changed by choosing between green tea, and black tea, or added flavours such as strawberry, mango, coconut, lychee and taro. Instead of traditional tapioca pearls, you can also choose to add jellies, basil seeds or ‘popping pearls’.
Bubble tea is typically served iced, but hot teas are also coming into fashion as a way to enjoy a warm bubble tea fix during winter. Some bubble tea stores will also make blended ice bubble tea slushies, which are also known as Snow Bubble.
So what can you expect with your first bubble tea? Enjoying a bubble tea starts with “pop” when piercing the sealed cellophane lid with your straw. The ‘pearls’ will be all huddled together on the bottom of your cup, waiting to be vacuumed up by the fat straw provided. As you drink your tea, you will see the dark pearls climbing up the straw until you realise that you are chewing the little gummy bear texture pearls, as well as drinking your tea. Chew and drink, chew and drink; before you know it, it’s all gone and you are left hankering for another.
We welcome Lee from CUPP Tea Bar to tell us a bit more about bubble tea:
What made you decide to set up CUPP?
After living in Taiwan for several years, we always thought how great it would be if these drinks were in England. When we decided to return to England, we wanted to bring an integral part of our life in Taiwan back with us… plus we’d miss bubble tea too much! So we learned all about the art of making and understanding bubble tea from a small independent tea shop we visited daily in Taiwan.
What do you think, has driven the popularity of bubble tea?
It’s unique and there’s nothing quite like the sensation of drinking and chewing your tea! It’s been huge all over Asia, America and Australia for decades. It was only a matter of time before Europe caught on.
What’s the secret to making a good bubble tea?
Well, that’s a secret! Good quality ingredients is one of them…
What’s your bubble tea of choice?
A tricky one. I have three favourites and depends on which mood I’m in. The classic ‘original milk bubble tea’ with either black or jasmine green tea is the go to choice but then sometimes taro bubble tea or lemon with mint jasmine green tea.