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How Taiwan's Bubble Tea became a Crucial Part of its Culture?

Posted by yenchuan on January 20th, 2020

There isn't always tea, either. Even so, people are obsessed with the drink that features a base made from tea, fruit, coffee or milk and chewy "pearls" at the bottom of the cup.

Bubble tea can be found nationwide, from mall food courts to the drink menus of high-end restaurants But its origins are in Taiwan and while the drink is wildly popular, bubble tea — or boba tea as it is also frequently called Taiwanese bubble tea — still remains a bit of a mystery.

What exactly are the pearls made out of?

Tapioca is a starch that is extracted from the cassava root that is naturally gluten-free and typically made into flour and edible pearls.

The raw tapioca pearls, which are often black but can also be transparent or white, get cooked in boiling water until they become soft. The pearls are then kept in a simple syrup mixture so that they become sweet and remain chewy until they are ready for use.

The cooked pearls are then put in the bottom of a cup and then filled with various chilled drinks like fruity teas, icy smoothies or milk-based tea and coffee beverages as well as ice. The drink is then shaken to mix the ingredients and sealed.

So why the name bubble tea?

The drink has a number of monikers, including pearl milk tea and tapioca bubble tea, but its most commonly referred to as bubble tea or milk tea. The term "bubble tea" is actually a reference to the milk froth that forms when the drink is shaken, not the chewy pearls in the drink that resemble bubbles, Quartz noted. The name "boba," on the other hand, originates from a Taiwanese slang term for the pearls.

What does it taste like?

The cooked pearls on their own are chewy but relatively flavorless. They become much sweeter after being soaked in simple syrup. But the real flavor comes from the drink itself — the pearls are more there for texture.

Bubble tea doesn't always have the tapioca bubbles, however. Other add-ins, like grass jelly (which has an herbal taste), pudding (yep, that thick custard-like treat) and even aloe vera can make its way into the beverage. Those looking for the classic drink experience, however, should start with the tapioca balls so that they can have their drink and chew it too.

Are the tapioca pearls healthy?

The delightfully chewy drink originates in Taiwan. In the 1980s a bubble tea manufacturer decided to put the pearls into a cup of sweetened iced tea. A number of bubble tea companies claim they invented the beverage, but credit is frequently given to Liu Han Chie, the owner of Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung. The drink quickly became popular It took off in the United States in the late aught, in major cities, college campuses and places with large Asian populations. Now, Taiwanese bubble tea is practically inescapable.

 But because the pearls are typically soaked in a sugar mixture, their calorie count increases.

Also See: Bubble Tea, Tapioca Pearls, Taiwanese Bubble, Simple Syrup, Tea, Pearls, Drink

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