With its jewel-like tapioca pearls, iconic fat straws and a full rainbow of colour choices, bubble tea seems made for the Instagram generation. But in fact, this photogenic thirst-quencher has been around since the 1980s. It was first invented in Taiwan, and has been popular in many East Asian countries ever since, while in the West, it remained one of Chinatown’s tastiest secrets.
If you’re new to bubble tea, or you just want to find out more, let Fine Dining Lovers be your guide to all things bubble tea leaf, from its origins, to different flavours and recipes to try at home.
Bubble teas in general are sometimes called ‘boba tea,’ but technically speaking, ‘boba’ specifically refers to the larger tapioca bubbles - anything over a quarter of an inch in diameter. These larger bubbles are named after 1980s Hong Kong sex symbol, Amy Yip, who was nicknamed ‘boba’, or ‘champion of breasts,’ in reference to her most famous assets. Milk tea containing larger bubbles, or tapioca boba, is known as bubble milk tea, or boba tea.
Tapioca noodles - made from the same Q rich tapioca as the bubbles, these thin, chewy noodles are great for slurping up through your straw.
Popping boba - hollow boba that pop when chewed, releasing a burst of fruit syrup. These are particularly popular in fruit flavoured bubble teas.
Jelly - chewy jelly cubes are sometimes added for even more Q. The most popular types are grass jelly, which is made from Chinese mesona and has a sweet, herbal flavour, aloe jelly, and fruit jelly.
Boba Partea sells hot and iced herbal sugar syrup, milk tea, smoothies, coffee and sweet and savory baked goods. Fruit tea flavors include mango; peach; strawberry; passion fruit; rose garden; and pomegranate and strawberry.