Even if you’ve never had boba tea, probably you’ve heard about it. This is a popular beverage, especially in Asia, where it has gained an offbeat following since the early 2000s. If you are hearing about boba tea for the first time, this article will tell you everything you need to know about boba tea.
What Is Boba Tea?
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Also referred to as bubble tea, tapioca milk tea, pearl milk tea, or bubble milk tea, boba tea is a popular dessert-like tea that originated in Taiwan in the late 1980s. It’s popular for its weird mixture of textures and flavors. This cold, milky beverage is commonly made up of tea mixed with chewy tapioca balls and several toppings.
Boba tea has some odd sticky balls at the bottom. It derives its name from the foamy bubbles that form at the top when it’s shaken to blend the ingredients. The name bubble also refers to the bubble-like tapioca pearls at the bottom. Numerous reports suggest that boba tea was invented by Chun Shui Tang, a popular restaurant in Taiwan.
Initially, Liu Han-Chieh, the founder of the famed teahouse, served his customers with cold Chinese tea. He started experimenting with this idea after a visit to Japan where he saw coffee shops selling cold coffee. When he went back to Taiwan, Liu decided to prepare cold tea mixed with various fruits and syrups for more flavors.
Liu used to shake the tea over ice to create frothy bubbles at the top. But the real boba tea wasn’t still discovered until 1988 when Liu attended a staff meeting at his shop in the company of his product development manager, Lin Hsiu Hui. Lin carried a sweetened tapioca dessert to the meeting and shared it with her colleagues. As the meeting continued, she decided to put the dessert into her iced Assam tea.
This experiment gave birth to boba tea. Since its inception, boba tea has undergone numerous improvements without altering the original recipe. Today, this Taiwan beverage is considered a worldwide sensation, with numerous teahouses that specifically serve boba tea cropping up in every large town, city, and shopping center.
Studies have revealed that there are over 4,070 teahouses and stores around the world that serve boba tea. This means that at least 380 new boba tea shops are coming up every year. This number is even suspected to be higher considering that there are many independent retailers selling boba tea around the world.
Why Is Boba So Popular?
It’s not surprising to find long queues at teahouses that sell boba tea. Research shows an increasing demand for boba tea around the world, and boba tea shops are enjoying a steady increase in sales despite the stiff competition. But why is this tea so popular?
One of the reasons why boba tea has become acceptable worldwide is the fact that it comes in different flavors to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Some of the most popular flavors include taro bubble milk tea, mango green tea, cheese foam milk tea, and durian bubble milk tea. Also, boba tea now features various tasty toppings, including cheese, egg pudding, popping jelly, chia seeds, and more.
The broad variety of flavors and toppings suits the current trend of foodies, especially those who want to take beautiful photos of their foods and drinks and post them on Instagram and other social media platforms. This also keeps boba tea brands on their toes trying to come up with new and unique ideas to make their tea stand out. Another factor that contributes to boba tea’s popularity is its aesthetic appeal.
In fact, countless Instagram accounts have been dedicated solely to boba tea together with its aesthetics. That’s why so many boba shops are making popular drinks, such as Light Bulb Boba, Cotton Candy Boba, and Blue Galaxy Boba with color schemes that are perfect for Instagram images.
Some boba tea shops even have artistic wallpapers and creative backgrounds in their outlets that are perfect for Instagram photos.
Is Boba Tea Healthy?
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Apart from being a major energy booster, boba tea offers several nutritional benefits. In 2019, Mount Alvernia Hospital in Singapore did a study on the health benefits of boba tea. At the end of the study, the hospital reported that the drink had the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.
Also, most boba tea brands have devised ways of including more fruits and syrups in their boba tea recipes, thus improving the drink’s nutritional value. However, you shouldn’t overdo this drink because of its high sugar and calorie count. Fortunately, there are healthier versions with less sugar. These ones could kick-start your metabolism.
This tea has also proved to be perfect for people who want to strengthen their immunity. For instance, green boba tea contains numerous antioxidants like catechins and polyphenols that help to boost immunity by averting oxidative stress.
Additionally, the mixture of fresh fruits like mangos, strawberries, kiwi, pears, and others adds a significant amount of vitamin C to your tea, making it more beneficial to your immune system.
Boba tea is also known to prevent free radicals that result in mutation and chronic diseases like cancer. The antioxidants found in green tea will prevent free radicals, thus reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases. However, you need to remember that a sugar-rich diet isn’t very safe. So, consider taking the healthier versions of boba tea.
How to Make Boba Tea
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First of all, you need to understand that different boba tea brands use different recipes to make their boba teas. However, there are several important ingredients that you must have to make real bubble tea. For instance, you need to have tea, milk, ice, tapioca pearls, and sweeteners. Other ingredients include brown sugar syrup and water.
Here are the steps you need to follow when preparing boba tea:
Making Boba Pearls
Add water and brown sugar to a pan and place it over medium heat. Continue heating it until all the sugar is completely dissolved. Add tapioca flour and stir it until it’s smooth. Then add the remaining tapioca flour and stir vigorously to form a gummy dough.
Remove it from the heat and continue stirring until the dough turns into a ball. But please note that not all tapioca flours form balls. Put the dough on a clean surface and knead it until it’s completely smooth.
Dividing the Dough
Divide the dough into various portions and roll the portions into thin ropes. Cut them in half if they are too long. Chop the ropes into tiny pieces and roll them separately into balls. Put the balls in a bowl and add a small amount of tapioca flour.
Dust them with the tapioca flour so that they don’t stick to each other. Remove the balls from the tapioca flour and put them into a bowl with boiling water. Stir them so that they are fully detached from each other.
Reduce the heat to allow your pearls to simmer gently. Continue to stir occasionally until they are fully cooked.
Making Sugar Syrup
Put your brown sugar in a small saucepan and add water. Heat the mixture moderately until all the sugar is dissolved. Then pour the syrup into a heat-resistant bowl. Rinse your cooked pearls and add them to the syrup.
Leave it for about an hour.
Making the Tea
Add two tea bags to the water in a cooking pot and boil it. Once it boils, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down to room temperature.
Making the Milk Mixture
Which half-and-half of tea and condensed milk until it blends completely. Then, add one cup of tapioca pearls to the tea. Top each cup with ice and stir with a wide straw. Enjoy!
Where to Buy Boba Tea
As mentioned above, boba tea is now available in almost every major town, city, and shopping center. There are numerous teahouses across the world that specifically sell boba tea. You can also find this tea in some of the popular restaurants around the world.