Beverage Knowledge

What is bubble tea – All You Should Know About Boba Tea

homemade buble tea

Are you looking for a trendy and tasty drink that can satisfy your craving for something sweet and refreshing? Look no further than bubble tea, also known as boba tea. This unique beverage has taken the world by storm, with its delicious flavors and chewy tapioca pearls making it a fan favorite. Let’s find out what is bubble tea and some interesting information about this iconic drink.

What is bubble tea

Bubble tea, also known as, boba tea, is a drink made of tea, milk, and chewy tapioca balls. This is a popular refreshing drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. The drink is usually served cold and has become popular worldwide thanks to its unique combination of flavors and ingredients. 

what is bubble tea

The origins of bubble tea

Before the 16th century, Taiwanese people rarely combined tea with sweeteners, but since the 17th century, when the Dutch came to Taiwan, they began adding milk and sugar to tea. Around the 1980s, pearl milk tea was invented, but it still needs to be discovered exactly who created this type of tea.

From Taichung, Ms. Liu Han-Chieh (劉漢介), founder of Chun Shui Tang Tea House (春水堂人文茶館) claims she is the inventor of pearl milk tea. In the past, during a visit to Japan, she saw Japanese people selling cold coffee, so in 1985 she came up with the idea of creating bubble tea by pouring tapioca powder into tea. The shiny, round black tapioca balls mixed in milk tea look like black pearls, so this tea is named “bubble tea”.

Chun Shui Tang Tea House

However, Tu Tsong-he (凃宗和), owner of Han Lam tea house (翰林茶館) in Tainan claims that he was the one who invented pearl milk tea in 1986, by adding bubbles of white tapioca starch into tea, which were flour balls that he took inspiration from the street vendors at the local market Ap Mau Lieu (鴨母寮).

In short, despite going to court, these two “inventors” did not register a patent or trademark, so they could not prove their ownership of pearl milk tea. Currently, in addition to syrup milk tea using soy sugar or honey, pearl milk tea has become Taiwan’s national drink.

What is bubble tea made of

There are many types of bubble tea, all made from black tea, green tea or oolong tea, and sometimes white tea. The sweetener is usually condensed milk, powdered milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, skim milk or fresh milk. Additional ingredients can be added to enhance flavor such as fruit syrup, fresh fruit, taro, jelly, whipping cream…

Tapioca used in bubble tea is made from cassava root, which is a starchy tuber native to South America. The process of making tapioca pearls involves extracting starch from the cassava root and forming it into small, chewy balls.

The difference between bubble tea vs boba tea

Boba tea is simply another name for bubble tea. The term is derived from the Chinese word “bōbà,” which denotes chewy tapioca balls. You can come to any bubble tea shop and order ‘pearl milk tea,’ ‘boba tea,’ ‘tapioca tea,’ or simply ‘boba. ‘  No matter what you call it (tapioca tea vs boba vs bubble tea… etc) you will still get the same basic drink.

Bubble tea calories

The appearance of milk tea was enthusiastically welcomed and widely consumed by young people. Therefore, researchers conducted analytical sampling to determine the nutritional composition of this food. According to, scientists estimate that 240ml of bubble tea contains:

  • 120 calories
  • 0g protein
  • 1.5 g fat
  • 28 g carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber
  • 28g sugar

This is with the average formula that users often choose when calling. However, each type of bubble tea will change the amount of calories and substances such as more sugar, added toppings, etc. At this time, a cup of milk tea can provide up to 200 calories. Although milk tea has folate, calcium, iron, and selenium, it is only a very small amount and not even enough to meet the body’s needs.

On the contrary, the sugar and fat content in bubble tea is really worrying if consumed too much.

drink bubble tea

How to make bubble tea

Love bubble tea and want to enjoy it from the comfort of your own home? Making bubble tea is a fun and straightforward process that you can easily master. With a few essential ingredients and some simple equipment, you can create your own customized combinations and try out new flavors and variations. 

Try this easy bubble tea recipe to get started. You will need the following ingredients:

  • Tea bags or loose-leaf tea: 2-3 teaspoons
  • Tapioca pearls: 1/4 cup
  • Milk (or non-dairy alternative): 1/4 cup
  • Sugar or honey: 1-2 teaspoons
  • Flavorings (optional): As desired

For equipment, you will need a pot to boil water and cook the tapioca pearls, a strainer to drain the pearls, and a cocktail shaker or blender to mix the ingredients together.

homemade buble tea

To make your homemade bubble tea, follow these easy steps:

  • Boil 2 cups of water in a pot and add the tapioca pearls. Cook them for about 15 minutes or until they are soft and chewy. Once done, drain the pearls using a strainer and rinse them with cold water to prevent sticking.
  • Boil another 1 cup of water and add the tea bags or loose-leaf tea. Steep for 3-5 minutes and remove the tea. Add sugar or honey, and flavorings as desired, and stir to dissolve.
  • Add the tea mixture, milk, and tapioca pearls into a cocktail shaker or blender. Shake or blend until well-mixed and frothy.
  • Pour the mixture into a tall glass and add ice. Serve with a wide straw and enjoy!

Experiment with different tea types, flavors, and textures to create your own unique blends. You can also adjust the sweetness and milkiness of the drink according to your preference. Making bubble tea at home is a great way to enjoy your favorite beverage and get creative in the kitchen. 

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