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Bubble Tea

Updated on November 5, 2014

Bubble Tea - An exquisite, refreshing beverage...

Have you tried Bubble Tea yet?

If not, there's no time like the present. Bubble Tea can be found at most tea shops and even many mall food courts. If you have a local Lollicup, that's a great place to get some great Bubble Tea.

This style of tea comes in a multitude of flavors, with or without tapioca pearls (your preference - I love them). You can even purchase Bubble Tea "Kits" and throw your own Bubble Tea party for your friends.

Go ahead, live a little. Try some Bubble Tea!

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea

Introduction to Bubble Tea

Bubble What?

Bubble tea, invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, is a sweetly flavored tea beverage. There are many recipes for bubble tea, but most contain a tea base mixed with fruit (or fruit syrup) and/or milk. Another great take on the drink is the blended-ice version of the drink, which generally is made in fruit flavors. Bubble teas are shaken to mix the ingredients, which creates a foam on the top of the drink - hence the name! Bubble teas may also contain small tapioca balls or pearls called "boba". Pearls made of jelly are also available in many places.

After it's origination in Taiwan, bubble tea spread over Asia, then migrated to Canadian and US Chinatowns. It eventually became a big hit across the country, especially in college towns.

(Photo Credit: AAGSA/Stanford University)

Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea Contents

Exactly What's In Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea is a mixture of iced or hot sweetened tea, milk, and usually other flavorings. One of the very distinctive characteristics of bubble tea is the black gummy balls made of tapioca or yam starch, called "pearls" or "boba". These pearls, larger than those found in tapioca pudding, sit at the bottom of the cup.

Originally, bubble tea consisted of a hot Chinese black tea, tapioca pearls, condensed milk, and honey. As this drink grew in popularity around the world more variations were created. First, iced versions with a hint of peach or plum flavoring appeared, then more and more fruit flavors were added until in some cases the tea was removed entirely in favor of real fruits. Today you can find shops entirely devoted to bubble tea, similar to juice bars of the early 1990s. They usually contain beautifully colored pearls that accent whatever tea or fruit juice is used, in addition to brightly colored oversize straws that enable the drinker to suck up the pearls.

Examples of the many flavors of bubble tea available are strawberry, passion fruit, chocolate, and coconut. Flavors may be added in the form of powder, fruit juice, pulp, or syrup to hot black or green tea (if desired).

(Photo Source: DiaryofLulubellewany)

Bubble Tea Pearls
Bubble Tea Pearls

Bubble Tea Pearls

I Love Tapioca!

The tapioca pearls used in bubble tea are generally made from the cassava root. The boba (pearls) are made by boiling for 25 minutes until cooked thoroughly, but still pliant. They are then cooled for about a half-hour, and remain usable for the next 7 - 8 hours. The pearls themselves have little natural taste, their flavors are created when they are soaked in sugar, syrup or honey solutions.

(Photo Credit: Santos)

Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea Trivia

A Fun Fact!

It was reported In September 2004 that, while defending an $18 billion USD weapon purchase plan, the Republic of China's Ministry of National Defense used bubble tea as an example of the overall cost of the proposed purchase!

The Ministry stated that the total cost of the weapons systems would be equivalent to the money saved if all Taiwanese people bought just one fewer pearl milk tea per week for the next twenty years. Seems doable, right?.

(Photo Credit: Easy Recipes Online)

Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea

Pearl Tea "Culture"

What You Might Want To Know

When ordering bubble tea, you might be asked whether they want 'pearls' or 'boba' in your drink. Remember, the "bubble" in bubble tea refers to the foamy part of the drink. Both 'pearls' and 'boba' refer to the tapioca balls.

Some cafes use a non-dairy milk substitute instead of milk, which adds a distinctly different flavor and consistency to the tea. One possible reason for using milk substitute is lactose intolerance, although a more likely explanation is that powdered substitutes are cheaper and more convenient.

As bubble tea has become more popular, new types of bubble drinks have been invented, such as the 'Snow Bubble.' This drink is slushie-like with one of many fruit flavors and it is mixed in with shaved ice to make a smooth refreshing drink. After mixing, the pearls, or boba, can be added.

(Photo Credit: Tales From an Open Book

Bubble Tea on the "Tube"!

Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea

Pearl Tea Availability

What Sounds Good?

These days bubble tea is available at a variety of small cafes and some restaurants. Most bubble tea shops serve a large variety of drinks, including coffee, juices, fruit smoothies, and fruit freezes.

Flavors may include some varieties less familiar to non-Asians, such as taro, honeydew, or lychee, as well as the more familiar chocolate, Milo (in Australia), Horlicks (in England), or strawberry.

Hot bubble tea with pearls is also common. In addition to tapioca (pearls), jellies such as coconut jelly, apple, etc, and puddings can be added to each drink.

(Photo Credit: Organic Coffee and Tea Recipes)

Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea

More Bubble Tea Fun Facts

Just Can't Get Enough

A reference to bubble tea was made on the Canadian television show Radio Free Roscoe in the episode "Lil' and Grace" when Robbie brings Travis bubble tea during lunch. Travis mentions that the drink was popular at his old school in Hong Kong and identifies the flavor of his drink to be lychee.

A reference to bubble tea was also made on an episode on the American television show Grounded For Life in the episode "Who Are You?" when Sean tries to bond with his son Jimmy, by accompanying him to various activities his son enjoys, including his after school hang out, the Bubble Tea shop.

(Photo Credit: Musings On Local History)

Bubble Tea Menu
Bubble Tea Menu

(Photo Credit:

Bubble Tea Names

  • * pearl (milk) tea or drink

    * milk pearl tea or drink

    * black pearl (milk) tea or drink

    * (milk) tea pearl

    * boba (milk) tea or drink

    * tapioca (milk) tea or drink

    * pearl smoothie

    * bubble tea

    * bubble milk

Talk to Me about Bubble Tea

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    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 2 years ago from Dartmoor

      Doesn't seem to have reached the uk yet. Looks fun, though!

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      Someone gave me bubble tea pearls once before. I hadn't a clue what to do with it. Now I do.

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      Haven't heard of bubble tea before. Interesting. I'll have to look for it.

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      I had my very first bubble tea this morning. Loved it!!! It was a green tea bubble tea with tapioca pearls.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love bubble tea! especially greet tea

    • timesaver lm profile image

      timesaver lm 5 years ago

      I have never heard of bubble tea.

    • profile image

      MaryMitchell 5 years ago

      I have never heard of Bubble Tea before - I must certainly try it, thanks.

    • dsr485 profile image

      dsr485 5 years ago

      I have never seen this. Beautiful lense. Definitely makes me want to try some. They are so pretty!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 5 years ago

      First time I've heard of this. Thanks

    • casnider profile image

      casnider 5 years ago

      I think my little granddaughter would love bubble tea. We'll have to see about making some next time I see her.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      I've never before heard of bubble tea. It does sound good, though I don't drink sweet tea usually.

    • fibrogirl profile image

      Dawn Lasmanis 5 years ago from Ocala, Florida

      I just had my first Bubble tea recently (chocalate milk boba tea) and it was delicious! Throwing some lens love your way!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      it looks awesome and yummy. i will try this.. all images are beautiful and thanks for sharing with us.!

    • Cherry-Ambition profile image

      Cherry-Ambition 5 years ago from U.S.

      I had bubble tea a few times in college. I had an Asian friend that got a group of us together a few times so we could try it out, since it was new to us. I wasn't crazy about the flavors I tried, but my choices were limited thanks to my food allergies. So I might actually try to make this at home so I can try several different flavors.

    • BelleBanks profile image

      BelleBanks 5 years ago

      I have never tried Bubble tea before but have heard it is really good.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Never hear of that before. It sure looks like fun drink! Cheers:-)

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      I love the ones with coconut milk in them.

    • profile image

      momsfunny 5 years ago

      I like bubble tea. I love the taro and green tea flavor.

    • bechand profile image

      bechand 5 years ago

      husband loves it - they sell it at the 99 restaurant ...

    • cooksalot profile image

      cooksalot 5 years ago

      Oh my gosh! I so miss bubble tea.

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Great lens, Well done!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      I've been wanting to try this. We have it at a local coffee shop.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Nice drink for a change, pinned to my Favorite Drinks board.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Who has tried adding a liquor to bubble tea? I'm looking for a good mix. Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just stopped by to enjoy your lens again, and I posted it to FaceBook for you. :)

    • makeupbrush profile image

      makeupbrush 5 years ago

      My usual order : red bean paste with pearls. Interesting lens!

    • Kara Hara profile image

      Kara Hara 5 years ago

      I love bubble tea especially milk malt flavour.

    • profile image

      dmoxi7 5 years ago

      We need more bubble tea here in Costa Rica!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've never tried bubble tea yet. It looks fresh. Thanks for sharing your lens with us.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 5 years ago

      Very good lens! I love Bubble Tea. There are quite a few excellent bubble tea places around san antonio that I like to go to and the tea is different at every one of them. Thanks for sharing the info with the links. I wouldn't mind trying to make some at home!

    • GypsyPirate LM profile image

      GypsyPirate LM 6 years ago

      I'd never heard of bubble tea - thank you for sharing something new with me!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      first time heard about bubble tea. thanks for the elaborate info about this stuff and i would like to have a cup of bubble tea with bobas. blessing this informative lens.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 6 years ago

      Never heard of this tea, looks good, would love to taste it.

    • profile image

      Bananamonkeys 6 years ago

      @ideadesigns: I love Taiwanese bubble tea. Awesome!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      Bubble tea reminds me a bit of Thai iced tea, except for the addition of the bobas. Sweet, cold and tasty with a green tea base. Healthy and refreshing. Haven't heard of bubble tea at all in the Northeast yet.

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 6 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • retrochalet profile image

      Cindy Fahnestock-Schafer 6 years ago from Hedgesville, WV

      I am from the East Coast and have never heard or seen Bubble Tea here, but will sure be looking for it!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 6 years ago from USA

      This is the first time I've even heard of bubble tea. Doesn't it sound fun? It will have to be something I put on my "must try" list.

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

      I had lavender bubble tea while in Atlanta, my kids LOVE bubble teas of all kinds. It is hard to find in my area.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 6 years ago

      I've always been meaning to try it, but never did. Thanks to your lens, I'll be heading over to the mall on Monday on my lunch break to get this delicious beverage!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I have never heard of this and had to stop by. Very interesting. I'm going to look for a place that serves this. Great lens.

    • WatchMovie profile image

      WatchMovie 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, this looks really great!

    • profile image

      jseven lm 6 years ago

      Very interesting, never heard of it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Bubble Teas is something new to me. It looks yummy!

    • laporter79 lm profile image

      laporter79 lm 6 years ago

      Until now, I had no idea what Bubble Tea was! thanks for this!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      nice lens...........i like to try some

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      Love this lens. Nice job. Thanks for all the great info on Bubble Tea.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      Love this lens. Nice job. Thanks for all the great info on Bubble Tea.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • davidleetong lm profile image

      davidleetong lm 6 years ago

      If you drop by Singapore, you'll witness how crazy the lines are for bubble tea here... and it's not a fad thing either... My treat :)

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      My favorite sushi shop offers bubble tea, but I've not tried it yet. The description on this lens is making me want to run out and get some though. I love iced tea with fruit, so this sounds perfect for me.

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 6 years ago from Gloucester

      I'm wondering if this is the same drink I had in a Tandoori restaurant, about 15 years ago, in Durban, South Africa. It was absolutely delicious, but it wasn't called bubble tea there, it was called something else (can't remember the name) - but it had the tapioca pearls in it, and looked like a pink milkshake. I must find somewhere that serves bubble tea now so I can see if it's the same thing - I hadn't heard of bubble tea before. Great lens! Blessed. :)

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 6 years ago

      The bubble tea itself doesn't appeal to me, but those tapioca pearls look like they might be tasty. I enjoyed your lens. :)

    • profile image

      Lindrus 6 years ago

      Love your lens and love bubble tea! Tried my first bubble tea on vacation in Vietnam, and I loved it!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Great lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Great lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 6 years ago

      Eeek! LOVE this lens :) This is my favorite kind of tea and the pearls are so yummy! My favorite place for bubble tea is the Tea Garden. So good!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 6 years ago from Kansas

      I need to try this bubble team. I love tea and tapioca. It's got to be good, yes?

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Wow! We often eat at "99 Restaurant" -- a chain in the Northeast. They serve bubble green tea with mango pearls. We can't get enough. I didn't know I could make this myself. Thanks,.

    • raegal75 profile image

      raegal75 6 years ago

      I've never seen this before, but it looks delicious! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • DogWatchColumbus profile image

      DogWatchColumbus 6 years ago

      My favorite coffee shop advertises bubble tea, but I had no idea what it was. I am so glad I read your lens. Now if I order it (and I just might now) I won't totally embarrass myself when I flip over the black beads at the bottom;)! Very interesting read.

    • profile image

      Runnn 6 years ago

      I like yam flavour bubble tea!!

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 6 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I also have never heard of bubble tea but I am not beyond trying it. Sounds/looks fabulous.

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 6 years ago

      I've never heard of bubble tea. You've presented it very well. I watched the video where they made green tea with peach, that sounded good. bakerwoman mentioned coconut that sounds yummy too.

    • pixelposy profile image

      pixelposy 6 years ago

      I love bubble tea, but the one place that I knew of that sold it went out of business... thankfully I found a place to order it online and now can make it myself. Those little pearls are a pain to cook, but worth it! Great lens!

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      I have never tried bubble tea and now want to!! As far as I know, none of the cafes in my college town serve it, or I probably would have tried it already. Wonderful explanation and photos in this lens! :D I love tapioca too, btw.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      To me, bubble tea is not really a tea beverage but fruit juices (sometimes added tea) with the chewy tapioca balls. I love the coconut version. Thanks for sharing this yummy lens.

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 7 years ago

      Very nice post. I want to try a some Bubble Tea now. Thank you for the blessing as well.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Special blessing and featured on April Fools Day Blessings. The angels are very thirsty today and your tea will liven them up so please make sure to serve them well as the bus passes your door.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 7 years ago

      I have been wondering what Bubble Tea is all about (but was too scared to ask anyone in Toronto for fear of being 'outed' as someone not 'cool'). Love this lens, I must feature it so that others will feel the courage to say, 'I want boba in mine, please.'

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 7 years ago

      Great lens! I've never heard of this, but I'm dying to try it now! Thanks for sharing!

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I've never tried bubble tea, but it looks absolutely delicious. Yummy lens.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I have indeed tried Bubble Tea. We have a large Asian population in Vancouver and Bubble Tea is sold almost everywhere. It's an acquired taste, I have to say. However, my mother often used pearl tapioca in puddings and desserts so I am quite familiar with that aspect Great lens.

    • mivvy profile image

      mivvy 7 years ago

      Never heard of bubble tea, I am going to make it.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 7 years ago

      This sounds too fun to resist...Bubble Tea...I have never heard of it before. I'm giving it a "Cupid Kiss" and featuring it on "Nutrition SquidAngel"...wishing you a happy Valentine's Day..or night:-)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      Oh so yummy. I love tapioca pudding and I love tea. Wonderful idea.

    • profile image

      doubleside lm 7 years ago sure know about this. Nicely done.

    • deyanis profile image

      deyanis 7 years ago from Oz

      I love bubble tea and have it almost everyday. But I didn't know the story behind these yummy drinks... Hmm.. my favorite flavours are taro, lychee, green tea and green apple. Great lens --- Blessed ---

    • rlivermore profile image

      rlivermore 7 years ago

      I've had bubble tea before but certainly didn't know all this, and your photos are beautiful. Nicely done!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 7 years ago

      Besides the yum factor these tea drinks look so pretty. My Angel Blessing today is SWAH :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you for explaining this, I always wondered what Bubble tea was but since I don't drink tea I never really bothered to find out. Now I know!

    • SueM11 profile image

      Sue Mah 7 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      I have tried bubble tea but somehow didn't like it that much. Great topic. Love your pictures. Blessed by an Angel.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      What a fascinating lens. Never heard of this before but then again I don't get around much anymore. Featured this on Holiday Cooking

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      Well this sounds interesting!

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

      Bubble Tea sounds great. I would love to try the bubble milk tea type. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      chloecapulet 7 years ago

      Bubble Tea is definitely on my list to treat my foreign friends visiting Taiwan. haha Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Good lens and information.

      jasmine pearl tea

    • profile image

      HomeStagingNJ 8 years ago

      What a mad, but fun concept! If I run across it, I'll be sure to try... a small taste. Tapioca was never my favorite. We got it regularly in boarding school and I always thought it looked and tasted like frog spawn!

    • LadyT LM profile image

      LadyT LM 9 years ago

      This is a really cool lens. I never heard of bubble tea before. I am featuring your lens, for National Hot Tea Month. It's differenty and I know that people will learn a lot from this information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Where in Alabama can I find one of these shops? I found a couple of them in Austin, I hate to think I would have to travel all the way back there to get one!! So, does anyone know? Thanks in advance.


    • profile image

      Sharkdude 10 years ago

      i am telling myself i should so try bubble tea!they sound and look so cool. how could anyone resist?totally my kind of thing!

    • profile image

      evokeshop 10 years ago

      Wow, your lense definitely has bubble tea covered well!!

      I have a business friend who is looking to bring 'Chooba' bubble tea to the UK - would you mind adding the lense to yours on the lenseroll?

      I'll give you a star, please do the same!

      Great stuff ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      my favorite is black milk tea with boba. my favorite shop uses coconut based milk. mmmmmmmmm.

    • profile image

      anonymous 11 years ago

      I have never even heard of bubble tea! Sounds amazing though! You have inspired me to try it!