Bubble tea, also known as pearl tea, milk tea or just boba is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Taiwan in 1988. The popular tea drink includes a type of tea like oolong or green, flavors of milk, and sugar. It comes with toppings that usually sink to the bottom like chewy tapioca balls, also known as pearls or boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, fruits, or puddings depending on your choice! Even though this is a Taiwanese drink it is very popular in many Asian countries, especially China! So here are the top 10 reasons why bubble tea is better in China.
10. It’s Fun!
Put simply it’s a fun and enjoyable drink. Not everyone gets this drink for the tea necessarily but for the enjoyable experience of drinking, and chewing at the same time. It’s not quite a soda but has just as much sugar, then again it’s not really a smoothie but it’s just as filling. Served in a cup with a big fat oversized straw so you can slurp away at the bottom layer of chewy tapioca balls or coconut jelly, it’s just fun to drink. First, you get the taste of the deliciousness and then POP you get the bubbles bursting in your mouth. In China, you’ll see long lineups at many bubble tea shops, there are many popular bubble tea chains like YoTea, Yi Dian Dian, Coco, Dakasi, Royal Tea, Gong Cha and Hey Tea. The “fun” drink consists of a tea base mixed usually with milk, fruit like grapefruit or passion fruit, flavored syrups and tapioca pearls or jellies. They also come in different fun shaped cups with designs. Bubble tea shops are also a spot where friends meet up and enjoy a tea over hours of chatting – it’s a great place to go hang out.
9. It’s Trendy
So, not only is it fun but it’s also very trendy. I guess you could say it’s the “cool” drink to get. Chinese people love the drink’s flavors, fun textures, and variations – bubble tea has become quite popular especially amongst the younger generations. They love the style, branding and concept of China’s new trendy tea house brands. They’re always finding ways to be creative and market the bubble teas. You know how it’s trendy to drink your beers out of a shoe or your smoothies out of mason jars? Well it’s also cool to drink bubble tea out of light bulbs. This is the newest thing and they are loving it! This drink trend has spread across the continent and to other continents as well!
8. You Can Customize It
Bubble tea shop menus can be complex, to say the least, but they’re usually laid out with a guideline and sub-sections to help you with your ordering process. The basics in the classic formula are tea, milk, boba and flavor. It can also get more complex than that but we’ll get to those details a little later. Don’t want to choose your own? You can choose a predetermined selection from the menu instead! Many of the tea shops have their own combos to choose from to take away the stress from having to choose from hundreds of different options. Yes, literally hundreds. There are two standard bubble tea categories, milk tea and tea without milk. Both varieties come with a choice of black, green, oolong or other tea and come in many flavors including fruit and non-fruit. For either milk or non-milk tea, you can choose a base of pearls, jellies or fruit. The pearls and jellies also come in different flavors and colors. There are so many options – decisions, decisions… But you can customize your tea just how you like it. You can even add cheese to your tea! More on that later. The Chinese love the many ways they can customize their tea according to their taste buds each day.
7. There Are Over 300 Choices!
So, we talked about how much China loves being able to customize their bubble tea but just how much variety and customization is there?! There are hundreds of possibilities for bubble tea! Some types of bubble tea are known worldwide and others are specific to China itself. The variations are almost endless because the drink can be made with or without a lot of different ingredients. You can even find bubble tea at McDonald’s McCafé locations in China as well as Germany and Austria. They began selling bubble tea in 2012 and offered over 150 types of bubble tea combinations so just imagine how many variations there are in bubble tea shops… Well I’ll tell you – over 300! Now the big question is just what are all these choices?! Well for starters you can also choose to have the tea shaken with lots of foamy air, made with milk or a non-milk version (and not shaken). Of course, if you choose the milk version you can select from different kinds of milk too like skim milk, coconut milk, soy milk, non-dairy creamer, cows milk, ice cream, condensed milk or even cheese! What about the tea part? You can choose from black tea or red tea (as it is known in China), green tea, oolong tea, earl grey tea, jasmine tea, green tea powders like matcha, or white tea. Bubble tea flavors can be anything from sweet to savory or fruity to nutty. You can choose between pearls and bubbles which just differs in the size of the tapioca balls. But if you don’t want balls you can choose jelly that comes in a variety of flavors like coconut, mango, herbal grass and aloe vera. The jellies come in different shapes and sizes. They can be cut into strips like noodles or shapes like cubes or stars. Other than the typical pearls or jellies there is also the option of “frog eggs”. Don’t worry they’re not real frog eggs, although would that surprise you? They are made from a type of wild basil seed that is placed into a liquid and turned into something that looks like a bunch of frog eggs! Another option is getting bubble tea with fresh fruit such as passion fruit, mango, oranges or berries. But wait, there’s still more! You can also choose your choice of sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, or stevia. There is also a hot version of bubble tea available, it doesn’t always have to be cold! Or you could bubble tea with azuki, this is a Chinese red bean that’s very popular in desserts. Last but not least there is a bubble tea with a pudding topping like custard. The choices seem to be limitless with the variations but we think you get the idea!
6. You Can SuperSize It
The bubble tea craze has been a little crazy and it has some big fans! There are a few Chinese folks who just cannot get enough of this sweet drink. There was a video that went viral of people supersizing their bubble teas into enormous jugs. If that’s not bubble tea love then we don’t know what is! They come into their favorite bubble tea shop with their own huge container and ask to get it filled with their choice of tea and toppings. The containers fit an equivalent of approximately 10 cups of bubble tea! This is not to say that everyone in China drinks their bubble tea this way or walks around with a huge jug ready to be filled with 10 cups of boba tea but there are a select few who love it that much that they do it. The amazing part is how they manage to drink the whole thing. You’ve got to be a die-hard bubble tea fan for a tea this big. We wonder how long it takes them to finish it!
5. Served in a Sealed Cup
If you don’t know, now you know, Chinese people have trust issues with their food and drinks. So when it comes sealed there is a sense of comfort and trust. Not only that but it’s convenient and prevents spills! This is super important, especially because many Chinese people travel either by bicycle or scooter or get the drinks delivered so it is easy to transport when the tea is sealed. While some tea shops may still use the typical plastic dome-shaped lids, many bubble tea shops serve the tea in a plastic cup that’s completely sealed with a straw you can poke through when you’re ready to get your bubbly on. They have a special machine that seals the top of the cup with plastic cellophane once it’s made. They place the cup in the machine, it does it’s sealing magic right in front of the customer and voila! This makes them feel confident and more comfortable about their drink and allows the tea to be vigorously shaken in the serving cup so you can get those bubbles on the top too. After all, the top bubbles after it’s been shaken is where the name “bubble tea” comes from.
4. Texture, Taste and Temperature
Cold drinks like iced coffee or juices have the same boring texture whereas, with a boba drink, the pearls offer a new consistency. There’s no other cool refreshing drink that offers delicious flavors and textures. It’s a drink that allows you to drink and chew at the same time. As mentioned there are so many varieties to choose from and ways to customize it that you can perfect it to your taste buds. There’s always been a big milk and tea culture in Asia, Milk tea shops are everywhere, it’s become very trendy to go out and drink bubble tea because of the delicious sweet taste and cool textures of the chewy bottom layers. Milk and tea drinks or milk and rice foods are often a staple as a breakfast item for many Chinese people or Asians in general. So naturally, bubble tea appeals to them in the taste department. But doesn’t this tea culture usually like their tea hot? Well, that’s the thing – bubble tea has the option for hot or cold but generally, it’s cold. South East Asia can be quite hot so it’s refreshing to get a cool drink that tingles your taste buds. Not only that but it’s become so popular and as long as it’s tea they don’t care too much if it’s hot or cold! Bubble tea is seen as the modern version of milk and tea beverages.
3. It’s Sweet, Very Sweet
Bubble tea is a unique, filling and sweet beverage and this is what arguably makes it appealing to many people in Asia. It’s considered more of a treat than a meal but it’s just as filling and will do the trick for that sweet tooth! In Asia, sweets, desserts and sweet drinks are in high demand. Desserts like glutinous rice balls in ginger-sugar syrup, candied fruit on a stick, deep fried durian, or grass jelly soy-milk beverages are much loved among the Chinese! Bubble tea is just another great option for them to satisfy that sweet craving. It’s creamy and sweet, the drink is made with sugar and the pearls are made with sugar too! The tapioca balls are made from cassava root then cooked in sugar and water until they reach the perfect chewy consistency. As you can imagine cooking these bad boys in sugar only adds to the sweetness of this bubble-licious drink!
2. Fast and Easy
This popular drink is relatively easy to make and quick, so if it’s fast and easy it makes it even more popular in Asia. All bubble tea makers need to do is mix the customers selected tea and milk with the flavored powder in a blender, add tapioca balls in the cup, pour the blended mixture and serve it with a sealed lid. This takes less than five minutes, being convenient for the shops and those looking to grab their sweet drink without a long wait time. Fast-prepared products are sought after by many in Asia when it comes to… anything. Bubble tea is in the same league as fast food chains, easy to prepare, quick to make, and appropriate to consume any time of the day!
1. Let’s Get Cheesey, Cheese Tea
There’s an upgraded tea in town, yup its cheese tea. Now if you’re thinking it’s like melted cheddar or mozzarella melted into the tea it’s not! It’s more like a frothy tea latte, but cold, the froth is a little thicker and it has a bit of salty taste . It’s called “cheese tea” and it’s made with a tea base like matcha, jasmine, or oolong, topped with at least an inch of salty whipped cheese. The foam is typically made from a mixture of cream cheese, whipped cream, and milk. The finished product looks similar to any tea or coffee latte. Bubble tea shops all over the country have included cheese tea to their menus! Again, this popular new tea version originated in (can you guess?), Taiwan! China quickly brought this version over to their shops – they even have hanging banners that say “cheese is power”. A popular tea shop in China called Hey Tea starts with a milk tea like you would if ordering a bubble tea but then adds a thick layer of whipped cream cheese instead of tapioca pearls. Make sure to shake it up (like you would a bubble tea) to disperse the cheeseyness throughout the drink otherwise you’ll be left with salty cheese to slurp up. There’s also an option to customize the cheese tea with fresh fruits like strawberries or use a low-fat, low-sugar cheese topping. Can you believe people are willing to line up for up to two hours to grab a cheese tea! Then it must be good.