bubble tea things to know

The Boba Craze: 7 Things To Know About Bubble Tea

Taiwan’s most popular drink has made its way across the world the past few years, sparking a bubble tea craze in cities such as London and New York. In fact, when Taiwanese tea brand Tiger Sugar opened in NYC, people queued for hours to get their hands on that tapioca treat.

But what exactly is bubble tea and why is it in such demand? It’s a refreshing, sweet drink of tea, milk, flavoured syrups and chewy, tapioca balls (or pearls). And why do people love it? Well, it’s downright delicious, that’s why. When you first chew those sweet tapioca balls you’ll be obsessed.

Here’s seven interesting things to know about boba (bubble) tea…

Things To Know About Bubble Tea

1. The ‘Bubble’ Part of the Name Doesn’t Refer to the Tapioca Balls

In fact, it was first made with no tapioca balls! The ‘bubble’ name actually refers to the bubble-y foam on top of the tea. It’s also called milk tea, pearl tea, tapioca tea, boba tea, boba nai cha, foam milk tea, momi milk tea, Q (which translates to ‘chewy’ in Chinese), and more.

2. And ‘Boba’ Doesn’t Mean What You Might Think….

The term “boba” is actually a Chinese slang word for “big breasts”. The connection with ‘boba’ and the tea came about when another tea shop in Taipei used larger tapioca balls than the original, smaller tapioca ‘pearls’.

3. The Tapioca Balls Can be White or Brown

The tapioca balls are naturally white, and are made from starch that comes from cassava root. You can have clear balls in the boba tea, but brown is more common. The brown balls have extra brown sugar so are wonderfully sweet.

Tapioca Pearls – The Social Tea House

4. Two Shops in Taiwan Claim to Have Invented the Drink

A long-standing dispute from the 1980s between two famous tea shops in Taiwan still goes on today. Both insist that that they were the first to serve the iced milk tea drink. One is Chun Shui Tang in Taichung, and the other is Han Lin Cha Guan in Taipei.

5. Yes, Bubble Tea IS Full of Sugar

A regular sized bubble milk tea can easily go up to 300 or 400 calories, and on average, a cup of bubble tea contains 20 teaspoons of sugar! Ask for a lower % sweetness level, or choose low-fat milk or less pearls if you want a ‘healthier’ version.

6. You Don’t Have to Add the Tapioca Balls…

You can add pudding, aloe vera, ice cream, sweet jelly,  or fresh fruit to your bubble tea if you prefer. But honestly? The tapioca makes it a real treat.

bubble tea flavours

7. As for the Tiger Sugar Version? Here’s Why It’s Special:

Are you wondering why people went nuts when Taiwan-based chain Tiger Sugar came to the US? Their unique tea features ‘tiger stripes’ on the sides of the cup from the thick brown sugar they flavour the drink with. You’ll see the drink all over Instagram, and it tastes just as good as it looks.

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

View stories