Think you know everything about our all-time favourite drink, Bubble Tea?
Well, if you do, just close x on this window and go beat an aeroplane or something. If you don’t, you’ve come to the right place, for I’m about to embark on a long bubble tea journey with you guys that unfortunately, would have to exclude all uncles/ aunties because they’re better off on the coffee/milo tram ride.
But let’s ignore the dude, and get on with the actual thing:
8 Facts About Bubble Teas That Uncles/Aunties Won’t Understand
1. What is it?
Sure, you know it as bubble tea.
But like every scientist will tell you: what is the actual scientific term even though you’re probably never gonna talk science with the bubble tea seller?
Well, according to most trustworthy site (11/10) source Wikipedia, bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink created in Tainan and Taichung in the 1980s. Recipes tend to contain tea of some variant, flavours or milk, and even sugar (optional based on your wish to lose weight or gain weight).
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Also, toppings such as your standard chewy tapioca balls (also known as pearls), popping boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, agar jelly and pudding are frequently used.
I’m sure you know about this already, so moving on…
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2. Exact history
While there might be different origin stories (like every martial arts hero out there), the most accredited one happens to hail from the Hanlin teahouse in Tainan, Taiwan.
According to the legend, teahouse owner Tu Tsong-he was bandying about in the Ya Mu Liao market when he saw white tapioca balls. Inspired, he proceeded to make tea using these traditional white balls (that resemble pearls), which created the so-called “pearl tea” combination.
Thereafter, creativity struck and he switched white to black, with brown sugar or honey added to it (that’s so frequently seen today).
3. And the alternative history
As our history teacher always told us, never believe in just one source. And while technically we’re referring to the same source here (Wikipedia), there’s actually an alternative story behind the creation of bubble tea.
The story tells of Liu Han-Chieh, founder of Chun Tsui Tang Teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan. According to the origin, Liu had observed the Japanese’s way of serving cold coffee and applied the method to tea. T
his totally original method would propel his business to greater heights, and form the footpaths for what would be bubble tea, which was inadvertently created when Lin Hsui Hsui was playing around with her tea during a boring meeting in 1988. Pouring her fen yuan into the iced tea drink, the beverage turned out to be a crowd-pleaser, and edged its way into the menu. And the rest, as they say…
Incidentally, there are around eight types of bubble tea in this world:
- 泡沫紅茶, otherwise known as foam red tea
- 泡沫奶茶, otherwise known as foam milk tea
- 珍珠奶茶, alternatively known as pearl milk tea
- 波霸奶茶, also known as bubble milk tea
- 黑珍珠奶茶, known by the English-speaking audience as Black pearl milk tea
- (奶)茶珍珠, or (milk) tea pearl, though it’s a less common interpretation
- 泡泡茶, pretty much the Singaporean equivalent of bubble tea
- 奶蓋茶, otherwise known as milk cap tea
Although truth be told, they’re all just bubble tea to me.
Can drink, can liao.
Ever wondered where the name of the drink stemmed from?
Well, if you’ve always thought that the “bubble” refers to the tapioca pearls at the bottom, you’re wrong. But don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Another term for milk tea, the drink gets the “bubble” part of its name from the froth formed, when the milk tea mixture is shaken.
While the original drinks might’ve contained just tapioca pearls, bubble tea drinks in more contemporary times have jazzed things up by offering different options (that will add similar textures to the drinks).
In fact, Azuki bean or mung bean paste, toppings that are common in Taiwanese shaved ice desserts, actually give the drinks an added subtle flavour as well as texture.
Also, different variants have emerged over the years, with ice-blended drinks, ice-cream blended bubble tea and actual fruit smoothies taking centre position on menus.
Just proves to show that innovation is possible in any aspect.
7. Health concerns
But like everything else, bubble tea does not go without controversy. In May 2013, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on the discovery of maleic acid, an unapproved food additive, in various food products including tapioca pearls.
Thereafter, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore conducted its own tests and discovered that extra brands of tapioca pearls and other starch-based products marketed in Singapore were similarly affected.
But of course, the worst would be the amount of calories in a cup: typically, one with milk and pearls would contain about 335 calories. For comparison’s sake, a cup of rice has about 200 calories.
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8. Singapore Bubble Tea
Thus far, bubble tea has been really prevalent in the Singapore scene so far, with customers willing to wait long periods just to get their favourite drink from their favourite (overhyped) stores.
But even so, we recognise the popularity of bubble tea in the local scene and its addictiveness that makes it as such. And so we’ve very kindly compiled a list of the bubble tea chains we think are currently the best in Singapore; so that you can get your ass down for some diabetes-inducing drinks in tow.
(Not ranked in any particular order)
- Bober Tea (okay we insert this in because they’re our client, but anyways)
- Bobii Frutii
- TP Tea
- R & B Tea
- I love taimei
So what are you waiting for?
Next time you get a drink at the Bubble Tea store, impress the cute girl/guy store assistant with your vast knowledge of bubble tea! And you never know…
…you might just be walking away with more pearls. 😉
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