Bubble Tea or BOBA Tea: Know the story behind

Bubble tea is a popular Taiwanese beverage that combines tea, milk, and chewy tapioca balls. It has gained worldwide popularity since its inception in the 1980s. With a wide range of flavors and customizable options, bubble tea has something for everyone.

In this article, we will explore the origins and history of bubble tea & the frequently asked questions about bubble tea aka boba tea e.g, does Starbucks sell boba tea, is boba tea gluten free or is it halal?

The Story of Bubble Tea Begins

In 2013, two Fung brothers namely David Fung and Andrew Fung released a song based on their bubble tea memories. They named the song “bobalife”. And they beautifully threaded some striking lines in the lyrics that can take back a man to his amusing past with the bubble tea aka boba tea. Everyone who enjoyed bubble tea during their high school or college life found a deep connection with this song and they became emotional and nostalgic. Some lines have hit hard the emotion of these young fellas, such as 

“We’re livin’ that boba life,” 

“The new drink of all the young Asians

Make it tasty, make it tasty

You can call us the boba generation”

But what is bubble tea? Is it really a tea? Bubble tea is mainly a tea-style beverage widely popular in East Asia and the immigrant community in America, primarily. The song bobalife is dedicated to the sweet memories of drinking bubble tea in their teens. That’s why the song primarily made an enormous appeal to the community who somehow have roots in East Asia.

If you ever get a chance to experience a Taiwanese market at midnight, you’ll be amazed to see how lively and animated they are at that moment. Under the sodium neon light, people are strolling in the streets, buying street foods, and enjoying themselves, that’s what it looks like in a Taiwanese market. How energetic they are! But where does this energy come from! Is it the special beverage boba tea? Maybe or maybe not. But it’s for sure you’ll find it crowded in boba tea or bubble tea stalls and outlets. 

After a hectic shopping experience, people indulge themselves in sweet moments by taking sips of boba tea. In many countries, people try to avoid depression or tiredness by smoking or by taking alcohol. But Taiwanese people found boba tea to be a more energizing and invigorating refreshment drink. Whenever and wherever you go into the cities of Taiwan, boba tea stalls are always open. As there’s a skyrocketing demand, there are more boba tea stalls here and there at the corners.

Boba tea is prepared differently than our regular tea. In regular tea, we put the tea leaves in the water and boil them until the water takes after the color of the tea. When the liquor precipitates, the tea is finally prepared and we put down the kettle from the stove. Sometimes we add cloves, ginger, milk, or other spices to spice up the flavor. And that’s the traditional way of making tea. But the case is different for boba tea as the procedure varies on a large scale.

Boba Tea needs milk and tea leaves primarily. Tea leaves mixed with the milk are boiled for some time. When the tea is prepared, a sago-like food named ‘tapioca’ is added to the preparation. But before boiling milk and tea, the pearl-like tapioca is boiled and cooled down. Then they’re dipped in the sugar syrup for half an hour. Normally, there’s sugar added to the milk. However, some ice cubes are used in milk tea to refresh you to the utmost possibility. And it’s the regular and ordinary way of preparing bubble tea. If you want flavorful boba tea, you can add fruits to stir up the taste to the next level.

Compared to other popular beverages which have a long line of history, boba tea is contemporary with a wide fan base. And its invention is also interesting. There are a couple of stories about the invention of bubble tea. But the most circulated story is about an initially failed entrepreneur Tu Tsong. In the late 80s, Tu Tsong invested in the booming restaurant business to gain wealth and success. But he lost his capital which is worth 40,000 Taiwanese dollars. But he never broke down. Rather he started to do something unique and extraordinary that might get huge traction from the community. 

School children and shop-going people get easily tired after some time. They need a refreshing drink that is common to their taste and at the same time, extraordinary. And Tu Tsong found the formula to attract people to his stall. He added tapioca to the milk tea with some ice cubes. Tapioca looks like a woman’s breast and hence the name boba which means breast in Chinese slang. The cold drinks are so delicious that they took no time to earn popularity among the school and college children as well as the average Taiwanese person.  

At first, it was hard to drink tapioca and ice cubes due to their large sizes. The straws couldn’t handle them due to their large sizes. So people ate tapioca and ice with plastic spoons. That sounds weird! Doesn’t it? So the owner of the boba tea shop contacted straw companies to manufacture wider straws so that the tapioca can easily get into the mouth. In 1986, a restaurant named ‘Hanlin’ started its journey and introduced the unique boba tea to the Taiwanese. Their popularity soon spread across the country for the uniquely delicious taste of bubble tea. In the early days, lots of boba tea shops started selling these unique teas. Due to the skyrocketing demand, later aristocratic restaurants and even street shops started to sell boba tea. In the 90s when Taiwan started to flourish in the tech industry, many Taiwanese migrated to different countries. And they take the boba tea recipes with them. Those immigrant Taiwanese first introduced this new kind of milk tea to the first world country.

Handlin, the first bubble tea shop in the world, now has 80 branches across the country. They even run some branches in America, Canada, and China. But due to various reasons, bubble tea gets more attention than ever in recent years. Nowadays, bubble tea is the most growing food niche to start a business. A recent survey suggests that the popularity of bubble tea has increased 1800 times only in 2018. It’s estimated that the recent bubble tea industry is worth 3 billion dollars. Thousands of people across the globe are now directly or indirectly involved in this industry. Boba tea has now taken place on the menus of world-renowned restaurants due to increasing demands. 

In 2012, German McDonald’s added boba tea to their menu due to skyrocketing demand there. In 2020, when people were to stay quarantined in Singapore, lots of people went to their nearest bubble tea shops to buy their favorite boba tea for the last time. Many people got emotional and nostalgic.

Bubble tea or boba tea isn’t now a beverage only, rather it’s an identity now. Just like Belgium is famous for chocolate, Italy for pizzas, and France for wine, Taiwan found their pride in bubble tea. They have been able to create a distinctive identity of Taiwan to the rest of the world through this bubble tea. In this world of globalization, food is also becoming a global sensation just like technology and culture. Bubble tea is undoubtedly one of the most refreshing drinks you’ll find in the healthy options. The striking taste and flavor of this unique tea are going to gather more applause in the upcoming days!

Is bubble tea the same as boba

Bubble tea and boba are often used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference between the two. Bubble tea is a type of tea-based beverage that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It is typically made by mixing tea with milk, fruit, or other flavorings, and adding in chewy tapioca balls or other toppings.

Boba, on the other hand, specifically refers to the tapioca balls or “pearls” that are added to bubble tea. The term “boba” is often used as a synonym for bubble tea, but technically it refers to the small, chewy balls that sit at the bottom of the drink.

So while bubble tea and boba are related, they are not exactly the same thing. Bubble tea refers to the entire drink, which may or may not contain boba, while boba specifically refers to the tapioca balls that are commonly found in bubble tea.

Does Starbucks have boba tea

Yes, Starbucks has a version of bubble tea called “Iced Shaken Tea” which is served with flavored syrups, shaken with ice and topped with fruit jelly. However, Starbucks does not use tapioca pearls in their iced tea drinks. Instead, they use fruit jelly, which has a similar texture to boba. Additionally, some Starbucks locations may offer seasonal or limited-time bubble tea-inspired drinks that include tapioca pearls or other similar toppings.

How Much Is Boba Tea

The cost of a boba tea can vary depending on where you purchase it from and the size and type of drink you order. Generally, prices range from $3 to $6 USD for a regular-sized boba tea. The cost can also be influenced by factors such as the quality of ingredients, the location of the shop, and any additional toppings or flavors you choose to add to your drink. In some areas or at certain shops, boba tea may be more expensive or less expensive than the typical price range.

Is bubble tea gluten free

It depends on the ingredients used to make the bubble tea. In general, traditional bubble tea is gluten-free because it is made from tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls, all of which are naturally gluten-free. However, some bubble tea shops may add additional ingredients or syrups to their drinks that could contain gluten. For example, if a shop uses flavored syrups or powders that contain wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients, then the bubble tea would not be gluten-free. Additionally, some types of toppings or add-ins, such as certain jellies or cookies, could contain gluten. If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy, it’s always a good idea to check with the bubble tea shop to ensure that their ingredients are gluten-free.

Is bubble tea halal

Bubble tea’s halal status depends on the ingredients used to make it. Typically, traditional bubble tea is considered halal as it consists of tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls, all of which are halal ingredients. However, it’s important to note that some bubble tea shops may use non-halal ingredients such as alcohol-based flavorings or extracts or non-halal derived gelatin in their toppings. Therefore, if you adhere to a halal diet, it’s recommended to inquire with the bubble tea shop about their ingredients and preparation methods to ensure that the drink is halal-friendly.

Can pregnant women drink bubble tea

Can you have bubble tea while pregnant? Yes, pregnant women can generally drink bubble tea in moderation, but it’s important to be mindful of certain factors that could affect their health and the health of their unborn child.

Bubble tea typically contains caffeine, which should be consumed in moderation during pregnancy. Excessive caffeine intake during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and other complications. Therefore, pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day, which is roughly equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Additionally, some types of bubble tea may contain high levels of sugar, which can lead to excessive weight gain and increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Pregnant women should be mindful of their sugar intake and opt for unsweetened or lightly sweetened bubble tea when possible.

Does joyba bubble tea have caffeine?

Joyba Bubble Tea may or may not contain caffeine depending on the type of bubble tea that you order. Traditional bubble tea is made with tea leaves, which naturally contain caffeine. However, Joyba also offers fruit-based teas and other specialty drinks that do not contain tea or caffeine.

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