Bubble tea is one of the trendiest drinks right now. Within the past few years, bubble tea has increasingly been featured on Instagram feeds and Facebook videos, and specialty tea shops have popped up all over big cities and college towns, Sure, bubble tea looks cool, but what exactly is bubble tea?
Image from Secret NYC
Bubble tea (aka boba) is basically just tea with tapioca pearls at the bottom. Sometimes, fruit flavored pearls are used instead. A variety of teas can be used in bubble tea, but milk tea is the most common type. Milk tea is exactly what it sounds like: tea with milk in it. Milk tea is made differently depending on the country of origin and the maker's personal preferences. The milk tea used in boba is typically made with either black or green tea.
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan. Unfortunately for whoever created this tasty drink, the inventor has never been identified or been given credit. Boba exploded in popularity in its home country in the '80s and became big worldwide fairly recently.
Image from Twinings
Tapioca pearls are made from the same substance as your grandmother's famous pudding. Tapioca is a starchy substance made from cassava root, which is a plant native to Brazil. Tapioca has little nutritional value but is popular because of its texture.
Unless you order bubble tea with fruit flavored pearls, the "bubbles" don't add any additional flavor to the drink. The real appeal of bubble tea is the fun of slurping up the pearls through a big straw.
Image from Boba Life
While bubble tea seems like it's everywhere, it's not for everyone. Tapioca doesn't contain gluten, but people can still be intolerant to it. People with tapioca intolerances get upset stomachs after eating tapioca.
If you're like me and can't drink bubble tea without getting a stomach ache, you can still enjoy milk tea without the tapioca pearls or try out the fruit pearls.
No matter how you order your boba, it's still a fun and delicious drink and worth a try. Based on all of the new tea shops around, you have plenty of time to try it for yourself.