If you’re new to bubble tea, or you just want to find out more, let Fine Dining Lovers be your guide to all things bubble tea leaf, from its origins, to different flavours and recipes to try at home.
Bubble tea - also known as boba tea, pearl milk tea and in its native Taiwan, as zhēnzhū nǎichá - can refer to a wide variety of drinks. At its most basic, it is tea, milk, ice and tapioca bubbles, all shaken together like a cocktail. Over the decades, however, it has evolved to include different teas, milks, various colourful flavoured syrups, jellies and much more.
Bubble Milk Tea (bōbà nǎichá):
Bubble teas in general are sometimes called ‘boba tea,’ but technically speaking, ‘boba’ specifically refers to the larger tapioca bubbles - anything over a quarter of an inch in diameter. These larger bubbles are named after 1980s Hong Kong sex symbol, Amy Yip, who was nicknamed ‘boba’, or ‘champion of breasts,’ in reference to her most famous assets. Milk tea containing larger bubbles, or tapioca boba, is known as bubble milk tea, or boba tea.
Popping boba - hollow boba that pop when chewed, releasing a burst of fruit syrup. These are particularly popular in fruit flavoured bubble teas.
Jelly - chewy jelly cubes are sometimes added for even more Q. The most popular types are grass jelly, which is made from Chinese mesona and has a sweet, herbal flavour, aloe jelly, and fruit jelly.Boba Partea sells hot and iced herbal sugar syrup, milk tea, smoothies, coffee and sweet and savory baked goods. Fruit tea flavors include mango; peach; strawberry; passion fruit; rose garden; and pomegranate and strawberry.As the sheer number of boba options reaches critical mass, it’s hard for a boba slinger to stand out. The boba arms race escalated dramatically over the last decade — especially since Instagram started seeping into Taiwanese culture — and a new breed of shop has begun offering more elaborate drinks with outrageous flavors and virality-primed color combinations. And as neighboring China grows its role on the global stage and aims to erode Taiwan’s international influence, Taiwan’s boba shops are fast becoming unofficial embassies for cultural outreach. Boba diplomacy, in all its permutations, is helping the world better understand Taiwanese culture and cuisine. But first, you have to understand boba — in all of its 2019 cheese-topped, charcoal-stained, fruit-filled glory. Here, then, is a detailed boba breakdown, as well as all the best places in Taipei (and nearby Taoyuan) to get your fix.