What Is Bubble Tea?
Have you tried bubble tea? It is a tea drink with tapioca balls and is also called pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea, bubble cup, or just boba. It originally came from Taiwan and became popular in the 1980s, then spread to other countries in the 1990s.
The recipe usually has tea (oolong tea, green tea or some kind of tea), milk, sugar, and toppings like tapioca balls, jelly or pudding. It can be served either hot or cold, and you can choose your own toppings.
Over time, bubble tea became a hit and nowadays you can almost see them anywhere. In fact, if you go to Taiwan or Hong Kong, you would think bubble tea is their national drink because of its popularity (like coffee or soda is to the U.S. or Australia).
Who Invented Bubble Tea?
Back in the 1980s, elementary kids in Taiwan would drink tea after school and play. There were lots of tea stands that sold the same drinks until one woman started adding different fruit flavours to her tea. It became really popular and other stores began imitating the trend. The tea with fruits infusion needed to be shaken well to bring out the flavours, and this brought out bubbles. That's why it's called bubble tea.
However, in 1983, a woman named Liu Han-Chieh thought of adding tapioca pearls to her tea, which became the new fad. Back then, the tapioca pearls were added to the cold infused tea with fruit flavour, and if shaken well, also produced bubbles. That's the bubble tea we came to know today.
Bubble Tea in Australia
Australia, of course, got caught in the fad as well. In fact, the bubble tea fad did boost tea sales in general, spreading the awareness of gourmet loose tea quite a bit. So, that’s a positive.
However, it is helpful to note that most bubble teas out there contain very little tea – or maybe even none at all. Instead, they are chock full of sugar. Based the calculation of a study in National Institutes of Health, bubble tea has an average of 38g of sugar per 473 mL single serving.
To put that into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that the average adult male should eat 37.5g, and a woman just 25g, of sugar in a full day. The body can’t process all that extra sugar, which means excessive sugar intake can eventually lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
Am I saying not to drink that seemingly yummy bubble tea forever? Absolutely not!
As in all things, moderation is key.
Also try to find bubble teas that actually contain tea – at least that you know is good for you! You can also make your own. And see if they can adjust the sugar level to a non-sugar-coma-inducing level.
Or better yet, get into some delicious cold brew iced tea instead!
Do you want to create your own? Here's video on how to make your own bubble tea.