I have tried several bubble tea shops in China and in Europe. I know how to make bubble tea and other Asian recipes.
The 'drink and eat' beverage
Let's try to imagine a hot or cold beverage made mainly of tea and a sweet flavored syrup. Something similar like an iced tea, but made at the moment by a bartender. Let's try now to imagine a simple tea added with milk, eventually flavored again with a syrup or with some kinds of powders that give the beverage a particular taste and color. Both these are then served in a cup previously filled with some special flavored jellies or the so called 'tapioca pearls', sweetened spheres made of the homonymous starch from cassava root. With a large straw you both drink the beverage and eat the spheres: if you have chosen the tapioca pearls, you will find yourself chewing them at every sip. If you have chosen the jellies, they will directly pop in your mouth and then you suddenly taste the syrup it was inside them. In any case, this beverage is real and it is literally a new food trend, just like sushi or Chinese food.
From China to the rest of the world
Bubble tea is - strictly speaking - a flavored tea with the possible addition of milk, syrups, powders and jellies or tapioca pearls at the bottom of the glass. This beverage comes from China. Both Taiwan and Hong Kong are generally considered homelands of origin of this beverage, even if also all the other regions of China feature bubble tea shops everywhere. In China bubble tea is a trendy beverage just like it may be the same in the USA for Frappuccino and other sweetened and flavored coffee drinks. Just like Frappuccino is very common to find almost in every country, also bubble tea managed to gain popularity over time also outside China, starting from the other Asian countries and arriving to be exported and appreciated also in the rest of the world. Today both USA and Europe feature many bubble tea shops, appreciated by local Chinese communities and also by the locals. There are different reasons why bubble tea achieved such a great success.
Bubble tea is funny to drink
The first reason of why bubble tea is popular (especially among young people) it's because it is very funny to drink. Not only it is very colorful and instagrammable: the only fact of drinking it while eating something at the same time (the bubbles at the bottom of the cup) makes this beverage something very nice to drink. Let's also add the most obvious reason why people love bubble tea: it is also very delicious. All these three factors make bubble tea a very pleasant and enjoyable beverage.
Having a bubble tea is another excuse to hang out with your friends
Hanging out with friends means having a dinner together, going to the cinema or clubbing. Having a bubble tea is simply another activity you can do with your friends: you can drink it by sitting all together at a table while listening to K-POP or Mandopop songs in the background or just take it away and drink it while walking on the road. Having a bubble tea may be another convivial and funny experience you can have together with your friends.
Bubble tea is nice because you can customize it the way you like it
The original bubble tea is simply tea added with milk and the tapioca pearls at the bottom of the cup. Despite this, you can still choose among many variants of flavored green tea, black tea, milk tea or even alcoholic tea based beverages. You can customize your bubble tea the way you like it, the same you would do in your local coffee shop when you ask for your favorite pumpkin spice latte or blended coffee drink. Strictly speaking, bubble tea is your exotic alternative to the most common coffee habits, so that you can have more than a choice when you want to drink something out with someone or when you are in look for something delicious to have a break with while smart working or studying.
Some bubble tea shops are very impressive
If you are curious to try bubble tea you may have a look at the shops in your city selling it or at the ones available on food delivery platforms. If you have already tried bubble tea and you like it: what is your favorite drink ever?
© 2020 Alessio Ganci
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 10, 2020:
Nice article, but bubble tea is from Taiwan, not China.