10 Facts About Bubble Tea That Even Siao-On Bubble Tea Fans Won’t Know About


Last Updated on 2020-11-22 , 4:26 pm

I’m sure you already know that bubble tea is a drink that originated from Taiwan and it often comes with pearls or other toppings.

I’m also sure you know that a few of your friends can’t survive a day without this drink because it’s not just a drink: it’s bae.

But do you think you know everything about bubble tea?  Like, for example, the “boba” in “Boba Tea” actually means…big breasts? And that it first came to Singapore in 1992 and not in 2001?

You can watch everything about bubble tea here:

Prefer to read instead because you’re running out of data? Well, here’re 10 facts about this calorie-filled drink that you probably didn’t know of.

Boba = Big Breasts

There are two common tapioca ball sizes we see these days: the big pearls and the mini pearls.

Sometimes, it feels like the big ones are the original and the mini ones are the special ones as the bubble tea auntie always asks me if I want to change to the minis.

Apparently, the term 珍珠奶茶 came about because small pearls were originally used. It was only when some guy decided to make big pearls and called them “boba” that bigger pearls were used.

And if you think it sounds familiar, here’s why: “boba” or 波霸 is actually slang for big breasts in Chinese. That’s why you also have people calling it boba milk tea as well.

Interesting, no?


The “bubble” in bubble tea does not refer to the pearls

I have always thought that the word “bubble” refers to the pearls in the drink. That’s why it’s also known as pearl milk tea, right? That’s actually incorrect.

The “bubble” is actually the froth that you get from shaking the drink. The most authentic bubble tea is actually made with freshly brewed black or green tea, milk and sugar, and then you shake everything with ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shaking the tea gives it a bubble froth on top of the drink, creating its namesake, the “bubble” tea.

Bubble tea doesn’t actually come with pearls

In fact, the most original bubble tea actually doesn’t contain pearls. This is a misconception that a lot of people have. That’s why the server always asks, “Do you want pearls?” if you don’t specify that you actually want them.

Of course, if you tell them pearl milk tea or 珍珠奶茶, you will get the pearls automatically lah. So remember to be specific the next time you get bubble tea.

It’s not an exclusively Asian (and drink) craze.

I think it’s safe to say that bubble tea has taken the world by a storm: It’s to the point that Germany’s McDonald’s actually had bubble tea on its McCafe menu in 2012.

Numerous bubble chains have popped up around non-Asian countries like Europe and America, so international students no longer have to suffer months of cravings while abroad.

What’s even more interesting is the emergence of non-beverage-based food items, like bubble tea bread, bubble tea hot pot and even…bubble tea pizza.


Bubble tea first appeared in Singapore in 1992

It’s a little hard to imagine life without bubble tea; it’s like this beloved drink has been there for us all along. But when exactly was bubble tea introduced to Singapore?



That’s 26 years ago! The first bubble tea shop was opened at Marina Square in 1992, and back then, they were more like cafes rather than today’s buy and go. But it was only in 2001 that the drink became crazy popular.

So many flavours, so many patterns

With the increased popularity of bubble tea, there naturally is more competition.

Instead of the simply, good ol’ milk tea, there are so many flavours of bubble tea these days, like taro, earl grey, black sugar, fresh milk, just to name a few.

And let’s not forgot the toppings.

Pearls are great, glass jelly is awesome, but have you heard of flavoured pearls?


And for unique flavour, it’s gone to a whole new level, too. I’m talking about peanut, black sesame, burnt caramel and so on. Don’t get me started on the salted egg yolk craze.

Now, of course, who can forget the Pei Pa Koa bubble tea that’s trending in the US now?

The origin of pearls is toxic

Pearls are made from tapioca, a type of starch extracted from the cassava plant. This plant is very common in our daily food sources, but did you know that if not handled properly before consumption, residual cyanide might be left behind?

It is a toxic compound that when ingested can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and even paralysis. But don’t worry, cooking is enough to eliminate all toxins.

Cheap to make

Is it just me….or bubble tea seems to be a lot more expensive these days?


Don’t get me wrong, with all the new and interesting flavours coming out, paying a little more does make sense, but it also means I wept for my wallet every time.

But actually, bubble tea is really easy and cheap to make. You just need to get some boba from the supermarket, boil them in water and sugar, and then add them to your favourite tea.

Calories in the pearls

Did you think I wasn’t going to mention anything about calories in a article about bubble tea? Even without toppings, the tea itself can contain a ton of sugar and artificial flavours. On top of that, a quarter cup of pearls adds up to more than 100 calories.

Your drink could very easily add up to over 300 calories! Also, pearls lack vitamins, mineral content, and fiber. It only provides a huge amount of empty calories. Because of this, you’re likely to become constipated after consuming boba.

Bubble tea can be healthy.

This is quite ironic after me telling you how unhealthy bubble tea is but it’s true: the general perception of bubble tea is that it’s not very healthy, as it’s traditionally made with artificial ingredients, the tea isn’t fresh, and there’s a lot of sugar used. But it CAN be healthy, especially with the increased customizability that stores now offer.

Here are some of the things that you can do:

  1. Ask for lower sugar content.
  2. Ask for fresh milk (preferably, low-fat or skimmed) as a substitute for non-dairy creamers.
  3. Ask for plain bubble tea without the chewy tapioca pearls or the milk to reduce the calories.
  4. Ask for healthier topping options.

Of course, moderation is always key and if you really crave for the sinful versions, I guess you can afford a cheat day every now and then.

Featured Image: 9nong / Shutterstock.com