The Skinny on Bubble Tea

By | February 15, 2021
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Thai Tea Bubble Tea - Orimi Photography

Perhaps you’ve heard of bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea, boba milk tea, boba juice or simply boba. Served cold, this tea-centered beverage is known for the chewy little tapioca balls (a.k.a. pearls) at the bottom of the drink and the bubbly froth on top. Maybe you’ve thought you should give it a try, but thought it looked a little too adventuresome for your palate. But that’s exactly why we like this beverage so much: We’re intrigued by the different tastes and textures it contains, and because we’ve never seen anything else quite like it. 

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, and it seems its creation was a group effort. (As with many inventions, precisely who deserves creator credit is up for debate.) According to one version, Liu Han-Chieh, owner of Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan, came up with the idea of serving tea cold, and one of his employees, Lin Hsiu Hui, added tapioca balls to the tea one day. And that is how bubble tea was born.  

Bubble tea’s base, often black or green tea, typically comes with a choice of two kinds of mixers: fruit or milk. Both versions contain tapioca balls, a traditional Taiwanese food, usually placed at the bottom of the drink. You can also get ice-blended versions, and sometimes the option of fruit-juice-filled balls can be offered instead of tapioca balls, which offers a unique sensation as these pop in your mouth when you bite into them.  

While Taiwanese in origin, we’ve found the beverage at other Asian eateries from Thai to Vietnamese and in many varieties.



Bapu Teahouse | 1789 E. 10th St., Bloomington 

Cafe Bali | 210 S. Grant St. Ste 1, Bloomington

Main Street Poké | 110 W. Main St. Ste 106, Carmel

Yoya | 3520 W. 86th St., Indianapolis

Tsaocaa | 6386 E. 82nd St., Indianapolis

Latea Bubble Tea Lounge | 530 Massachusetts Ave. Ste 180, Indianapolis

Saigon | 4760 W. 38th St., Indianapolis 

Taiwan Tea House | 3746 82nd St., Indianapolis

Kung Fu Tea | 2683 E. Main St., Ste 107, Plainfield

Latea Bubble Tea Lounge | 358 E. State St., West Lafayette


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