Everything You Need to Know About Bubble Tea

Updated on December 7, 2017

No matter if you are a hardcore tea aficionado or not, you can't help but perk up when you hear the words: "bubble tea." This yummy and innovative trend has taken people by storm all over the world. Bubble Tea's five simple yet colorful ingredients are not the only ones responsible for its ever-growing popularity since it comes with several other perks. But, let's get acquainted with this creative and zesty beverage.

The Origin of Bubble Tea

Despite the fact that we just found out about it, Bubble Tea has been around for almost two decades now. Originating from Taiwan, Bubble Tea was invented in the 1980s. There are two theories about how Bubble Tea came to life.

According to the first one, this refreshing and delicious beverage was the brainchild of a concession owner who owned a stand right across an elementary school. So, to attract more costumers and sell more tea, this resourceful stand owner thought of spicing things up by adding fruity flavor to her tea variations. This way not only she drew the attention of the students, but her competing concession owners started following the same technique to increase their income.

However, the other speculation about how Bubble Tea was born is a bit different. Back in the 1980s, Taiwan was all into the tea which served as a refreshing beverage after a long and hard day at work. But, as tea's popularity grew, so did the creativity of tea stand owners to put their business on the map. As a result, a single tea stand owner stood out when he came up with the idea of serving iced tea. So, his business evolved from a single tea stand to a successful tea shop. But, this was just the beginning.

A few years later, one of his employees took things a step further without even knowing it. During a boring staff meeting, Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui threw her sweetened tapioca pudding inside her iced tea. She took a sip and there it was; the single most flavorful iced tea she had tasted. Right there, on the spur of the moment, Bubble Tea came to life.

What Is Bubble Tea?

Bubble Tea is a fresh and tasty beverage which consists of five simple ingredients. Here is a simplified list of the necessary Bubble Tea ingredients and their potential alternatives.

1. Tea

Tea is the core component of Bubble Tea (duh!). However, tea is not the only liquid ingredient you can use to make a cup of Bubble Tea. Several latest variations use milk or water as a tea alternative. This is why Bubble Tea is also known as a Pearl Milk Tea or Boba Milk Tea.

2. Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls are the single ingredient that has skyrocketed Bubble Tea popularity nowadays. Tapioca pearls, also known as Boba balls, are spread all over the bottom of the drink. They are tiny chewy balls which are usually black. However, according to the Tapioca pearls ingredients, they can be white, transparent or colored. Colored is the trendiest version of Boba balls lately. But, if you are not into this ingredient, you can always switch to fruit jellies, the funniest and most entertaining alternative to Boba balls.

3. Flavor

Another trait that makes Bubble Tea unique is its fruit-based flavor. The options are limitless. From apples and peaches to cantaloupe and passion fruits, Bubble Tea can satisfy your needs. Most of the times, Bubble Tea producers use fresh or pureed fruit. However, on rare occasions, you can replace fresh fruit with flavored powder or syrup.

4. Sweeteners

Bubble Tea is also famous for its sweet taste. Sugar is the most common ingredient to sweeten up your tea. Alternatively, you can use other delicious sweeteners such as honey or fructose. However, if you are all into the sugar-free philosophy, you can always replace sugar with Stevia or Aspartame.

5. Creamer

Creamer is the last (but not least!) ingredient of Bubble Tea. Using creamer is a great way to thicken your drink and make it more filling. There are three alternatives: powdered non-dairy creamer, full milk or half 'n half (both milk and powder). All three options are bound to turn your Bubble Tea into a creamy treat. Most people go with the half 'n half option since Bubble Tea tastes more like a milkshake.

Bubble Tea Flavors

As mentioned earlier, Bubble Tea comes in numerous flavors which can satisfy even the most demanding costumers. Fruity flavors are rightfully the winner in the Bubble Tea universe due to their creamy and sweet taste. However, some people prefer an edgier taste. That said, here are some of the most popular Bubble Tea flavors:

1. Fruit-Based Flavors

Banana, apple, avocado, grape, watermelon, strawberry, passion fruit, coconut, orange, lemon, mango, kiwi, pomegranate, peach, blueberry, pineapple, and cantaloupe.

2) Non-Fruit Based Flavors

Chocolate, mocha, black milk tea, caramel, coffee, rose and lavender tea.

How to Make Bubble Tea From the Comfort of Your Home

If we take all of the above into consideration, one thing is for sure. The options are endless. You can customize your Bubble Tea in so many ways that it's just impossible to decide sometimes. But, no matter the flavor, the creamer or the sweetener you choose to use, there is one simple way to make the best Bubble Tea you have ever tasted in your kitchen.


  • one tea bag (of your preference)
  • ½ cup of Tapioca pearls (preferably black)
  • ½ cup of sugar (read above for alternatives)
  • ¼ cup of milk (read above for alternatives)
  • water


1. Pour 2 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil at high temperature.

2. Add the Tapioca pearls and stir until they start floating.

3. Turn the heat down and let the pearls cook for approximately 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring ½ cup of water to a boil using your microwave.

5. Once cooked, pour ½ cup of sugar in it and let it dissolve.

6. Once the Tapioca pearls are ready, remove them from the water and put them in a bowl.

7. Pour the syrup you prepared earlier into the bowl and let the mixture cool down for 15 minutes.

8. As the mixture is cooling down, bring 1 cup of water to a boil using your microwave.

9. Once cooked, add the tea bag of your preference and remove the bag after a couple of minutes.

10. Once both mixtures are cool, pour the tea into a tall glass along with the Tapioca pearl mix.

11. Add ¼ cup of milk for a creamy texture.

12. Add ice cubes (or better yet shaved ice) and shake for 30 seconds.

13. Enjoy!

Strawberry Milk Tea Recipe DIY

Is Bubble Tea Healthy?

Despite its incredible taste, drinking Bubble Tea has been an issue of concern when it comes to its nutritional value and its effect on consumers' health. This fact seems a bit controversial since all of Bubble Tea's ingredients are healthy on their own. Specifically, the tea is known for its antioxidant properties.

The primary health concern of drinking Bubble Tea revolves around the substances included in Tapioca pearls. According to related medical research, Tapioca pearls may contain harmful substances that can cause cancer. However, further research is mandatory before establishing this statement once and for all.

Another health issue around Bubble Tea has to do with its high sugar content. As most of you know, increased sugar consumption is not good for your health. Bubble Tea contains approximately 18 grams of sugar whereas the American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of sugar for women and 37,5 grams for men on a daily basis. So, it's safe to say that Bubble Tea contains a lot of sugar.

Let's Choose!

Which bubble tea flavor would you like to try?

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© 2016 Kyriaki Chatzi


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    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

      Kyriaki Chatzi 17 months ago

      @Dangerously Delish; If you are a tea fan, then you need to give this one a shot. Thank you for your lovely comment!

    • profile image

      Dangerously Delish 17 months ago

      This is the most peculiar tea I have ever heard of. I must try.. If those pearls aren't too expensive that is ! Really lovely pictures too.

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

      Kyriaki Chatzi 18 months ago

      @Glenn Stok; Creamer is not my favorite option, either. But, it sure adds up to its taste. I hope you'll enjoy it! Thank you for commenting!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 18 months ago from Long Island, NY

      I never heard of bubble tea before. It's amazing how many different varieties there are. I don't know any places around here that might offer it, but I plan to experiment with making it myself. I wouldn't use a creamer though. I'd make it more like a fruit smoothy. Thanks to your detailed explanation I see a lot of options.

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

      Kyriaki Chatzi 18 months ago

      @vespawoolf; Thank you for that insightful comment! Taro is a quite intriguing choice. Never heard of such combination, though. I hope I run into it, at some point.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 18 months ago from Peru, South America

      I tried bubble tea for the first time just a few months ago. I loved taro, a purple root. I agree, though, that it does contain a lot of sugar. I'm not sure about the toxicity of tapioca. Tapioca pudding has been popular for decades. I need to research that more. Thank you for this interesting and well-written article!

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

      Kyriaki Chatzi 19 months ago

      Hello, FlourishAnyway. Really, you have?! What did you think? Did you like it?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

      I have tried bubble tea once while in Philly.