Bubble tea (or boba tea) is a popular Taiwanese drink that has been developed into numerous variations and flavours, making it a treat that can be customised in a number of ways. Whether you're making it at home or ordering it from a bubble tea shop, a good rule is to have basic knowledge of the chewy, tasty drink. Numerous textures are available, alongside a wealth of flavour.
Bubble Tea: What Is It?
Other terms for bubble tea include tapioca tea and pearl tea. It's a style of tea drink that started in Taiwan back in the 1980s. Wildly popular in its home country, it quickly gained popularity across Asia and worldwide. There are four elements to basic bubble tea:
Brewed tea, flavour and/or sweetener, tapioca pearls or similar boba and milk or non-dairy milk. That last element is sometimes skipped entirely. The mix is usually shaken with ice before getting served with a fat straw that allows the pearls to come through.
Kinds of Bubble Tea
At this point, bubble tea can come in any and every flavour imaginable. Tea houses have variations that run up to the hundreds! That said, their menus also carry staples. Classic bubble tea types that tea house menus everywhere tend to have by default include the likes of:
- Fruit Tea - This tea is based on fresh fruit alongside boba. It's usually free of any caffeine.
- Milk Tea - This type of tea typically includes brewed black tea and milk. The tapioca pearls are optional.
- Taro Bubble Tea - Pureed taro is incorporated here. Taro is a purple root a lot like sweet potato that has a sweet, toasty flavour.
- Thai Tea - Sweetened condensed milk is combined with a strong black tea to create this. The tapioca pearls are optional.
Types of Tea Used
The first consideration when ordering bubble tea is what kind of tea should be included. Most bubble teas have one of these three as a base: oolong, green tea or black tea. White tea is also an option in some cases.
- Black Tea - This is also known as red tea in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. This is the most popular choice when it comes to bubble tea.
- Green Tea - Matcha, which is a kind of green tea powder, falls under this category. Jasmine green tea is also an oft-preferred choice.
- Oolong Tea - Standard oolong tea is generally the route taken, but many bubble tea drinkers also go for green oolong.
- White Tea - This is more of a preference in Western countries. In Taiwan, it is rarely used.
Different variations and adaptations using different ingredients have emerged as well. Some newer variations involve blending and freezing coffee to make snow ice, cream-based variations (otherwise known as smoothies, yuxiang, or milkshakes), and the aforementioned fruit bubble tea.
Bubble tea has become a popular trend since it emerged in the mid-80s. Starting in Taiwan, it is now beloved all over the world. Aside from milk tea, other kinds of bubble tea include Thai tea, fruit tea and taro bubble tea.
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