Why Is Bubble Tea Also Called Boba Tea?
Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea, or boba tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Tainan and Taichung in the 1980s. If you’ve ever seen boba tea, you might think that “bubbles” refers to the little pearls at the bottom. But the bubbles that give the drink its name are those on top of the liquid made by mixing milk and tea. The pearls at the bottom of the tea are bobas which themselves usually don’t taste like much of anything. They’re made from tapioca—like the pudding! The tapioca pearls are boiled and then stored in sugary water. This gives them a sweet taste and keeps them soft until they land in your boba tea.
Bubble teas fall under two categories: teas (without milk) and milk teas. Both varieties come with a choice of black, green, or oolong tea, and come in many flavors (both fruit and non-fruit). Milk teas include condensed milk, powdered milk, almond milk, coconut milk, 2% milk, skim milk, or fresh milk. Some shops offer non-dairy creamer options as well (many milk tea drinks in North America are made with non-dairy creamer). In addition, many boba shops sell Asian style smoothies, which include a dairy base and either fresh fruit or fruit-flavored powder, creating fruity flavours, such as honeydew, lemon, and many more (but no tea). Now, there are hot versions available at most shops as well.
Do all bubble teas contain bobas? Bubble tea recipes contain tea of some kind, flavors of milk, and sugar (optional). Toppings, known as “pearls”, such as chewy tapioca balls (also known as pearls or boba), popping boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, agar jelly, alovera jelly, sago and puddings are often added. Ice-blended versions are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy consistency. There are many varieties of the drink with a wide range of flavors. The two most popular varieties are black pearl milk tea and green pearl milk tea.
Today, people drink boba tea all over the world, there are stores that specialize in bubble tea. Some cafés use plastic lids, but more authentic bubble tea shops serve drinks using a machine to seal the top of the cup with plastic cellophane. The latter method allows the tea to be shaken in the serving cup and makes it spill-free until one is ready to drink it. The cellophane is then pierced with an oversize straw large enough to allow the toppings to pass through. Today, in Taiwan, it is most common for people to refer to the drink as pearl milk tea.
Is boba tea good for you? That depends. Because there are so many flavors, the sugar content of boba tea can vary. Sugary teas shouldn’t be consumed often. However, boba teas made with green tea often have less sugar. The bobas themselves contain little nutritional value. In 2012, more healthy concerns about boba tea arose. A study by German researches reportedly found a cancer-causing chemical in bobas. However, many people question the results. No other study has found such a chemical in boba pearls.