What is Bubble Tea?

So you want to know what is Bubble Tea? It’s a party in a cup! Bubble Tea, also known as Pearl Milk Tea or Boba Milk Tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s and grew in South East Asia throughout the 1990’s before taking Europe and America by storm. Now it’s here.

“Bubble tea as a beverage is bold, daring, bordering almost on the blasphemous – when seen in the light of the history of tea.

Bubble Tea is traditionally made with brewed tea, sugar and milk shaken with ice and strained into a cup over tapioca pearls and drank through a thick straw but the popularity of Bubble Tea has grown throughout the years and now you can find endless combinations of flavoured Bubble Teas, fruit based teas with many “Bubble Teas” not even containing any tea anymore and the tapioca pearls can now be substituted for a variety of flavoured coconut jelly, popping bobas (little balls packed with flavour that burst in your mouth) the possibilities are endless. What seems to have been made more consistent across the board is that the ‘Bubble Tea’ is now sold in sealed plastic cups and drank with fat straws in order to suck up all the delectable goodness at the bottom. Some shops may refute this, and try to spin you a romanticised version, but it is what it is.   ‘Bubble Tea’ now includes many varieties, a few of which we will try and explain here:

  • Bubble Tea– We’re talking about the original one here, it’s a simple yet delicious drink made with Black Tea and shaken up with a non-dairy creamer and a sweetener (most places use fructose but we use locally produced Honey here at Pop) and served over tapioca pearls. It is now made with your choice of Tea and served over a topping of your choice too. We recommend the Rooibos and Tapioca Pearls though.
  • Flavoured Bubble Tea– This would be Pop’s version of ‘Fusion Iced Bubble Tea’. The easiest way to describe it would be a flavoured Ice Tea with treats at the bottom. This drink is made with actual tea of your choice, then it is flavoured, usually with a syrup, and shaken with ice before being served over our choice of toppings. Toppings can be a variety of little edible treats (small enough to be hoovered up through a fat straw). This drink is not usually served milky (ie made with either non dairy creamer, cream or milk) but served clear like an Iced Tea.
  • Bubble Tea Shakes- These shakes can be made with anything now such as yoghurt or ice cream and generally do not include any tea whatsoever. A favourite here at Pop is the Vietnamese Styled Coffee Shake, it’s and Iced Coffee flavoured with condensed milk!


There are many more varieties of drinks out there, and this is not even close to being a definitive guide to all the drinks, but hopefully you have a better understanding of our drinks. If you have any questions, leave us a comment and we will answer it as best we can, otherwise try and speak to your local Bubble Tea shop, I’m sure they are just as enthusiastic as we are about this exciting drink! High Five! SJ