What is Bubble Tea? Everything You Need to Know

Despite the recent hype around the drink, bubble tea has been around since the 1980s — or at least since then in Taiwan. Although there is much speculation on its origin, most people accept that Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui was the original inventor of the drink, after she dumped her typical Taiwanese dessert (fen yuan) into her Assam iced tea at a Taiwanese tea house where she worked. After her colleagues’ tasted it and approved, this creation was added to the menu — and it outsold all their other iced teas fast. 

After this, Bubble Tea shops appeared all over Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China. In recent years, bubble tea has continued to pop up across the world, with the UKs first Bubble Tea shop opened in Soho, London, in 2011 (although it has been offered in various restaurants since the 1990s). In Cardiff, Wales, there  is at least one shop on all main streets and shopping centres in 2022. 

What is Bubble Tea?

Traditional bubble tea, also known as boba tea or zhenzhu naicha (珍珠奶茶) in Mandarin, is made from Assam tea and frothy milk, paired with crushed ice and caramelised tapioca pearls. These pearls are made from tapioca starch, which is boiled and steeped in caramelised syrup to create the sweet and textured bubbles that sit at the bottom of your tea. 

Although bubble tea gets its name from these bubble-shaped tapioca balls, as well as the “bubbles” that are created when the drink is shaken, these pearls can be much larger, smaller, and coloured than this. 

What makes Bubble Tea unique?

Indeed, part of bubble tea’s allure is that it can be made in a near endless number of ways, for a near endless number of tastes. Assam tea can be replaced with jasmine green tea, and alternative milks can be used instead of cow’s milk. Or, milk can be removed altogether to create a fruit tea — these are made from fruit and fruit juices and blended with ice, with popping-bubbles or jellies often added to the bottom. 

Tapioca pearls can also be replaced with basil seeds, fruit, grass or custard jellies, or popping bubbles. The latter, also known as popping boba, are made from seaweed extract and filled with a burst of fruit juice (of your choice). You can also choose how sweet your drink is, and how much ice is in it. 

You can even have bubble coffee! This is made like the classic Assam milk tea (milk, crushed ice, caramelised tapioca pearls), but with coffee instead of tea. Like all bubble tea, this can be customised with new bubbles, powders and syrups for a delicious treat — chocolate or caramel bubble coffee are a popular choice. 

Is Bubble Tea Caffeinated? 

This depends on your order. Bubble tea will have as much caffeine as the tea you select. For example, there is around 40-50 mg of caffeine in black tea, 20-30 mg in green tea, and 20-35g in oolong tea.

For a caffeine-free tea, go for a fruit bubble tea instead. 

Our Bubble Tea Recommendations

Although there are hundreds, if not thousands of options, there are some bubble tea orders that stand out from the rest. 

  • Classic Milk Tea: The tea that started it all. If you haven’t tried bubble tea yet, this should be your first stop. 
  • Brown Sugar Milk Tea (Tiger Tea): The same as above, with extra sweetness from sugar syrup. 
  • Taro Tea: Made from a combination of ground taro root, jasmine tea, milk, sugar and pearls, taro tea is a sweet, nutty flavour with a subtle but creamy vanilla finish. Think buttered popcorn
  • Milkshake Style: Order a chocolate, strawberry or banana milk tea with a milk of your choice for a milkshake style drink. 
  • Biscoff Milk Tea: A Bubblebase Special that’s as delicious as it sounds. 
  • Fruit Tea: Don’t fancy a milk-based drink? Pick your favourite fruit (or two!), with some fruit-flavoured bubbles or sweet jelly. Lychee, watermelon, passion fruit and mango are popular choices. 
  • Mocktail: Fancy a cocktail? Recreate your favourites in mocktail tea form. Piñacolada, Blue Lagoon and Strawberry Mojito are some of our favourites. 

Written for [YOUR WEBSITE HERE], by Bubblebase: Wales first Bubble Tea Bar.

Amit Kumar

Amit Kumar is a Digital Marketing Strategist in a leading organisation. A creative marketing strategist with over 8 years of experience developing digital marketing strategies and guiding business development