Bubble tea has been around in its place of origin(Taiwan) since the 1980s but only recently has it made its way into UK high streets. Many of us are starting to see specialist bubble tea shops, or our current East Asian shops starting to sell the drink. In particular London has taken upon this trend, with as many as six shops(and counting) selling the stuff.
So what is bubble tea?
Boba milk tea, also known as pearl milk tea, is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in tea shops in Taiwan during the 1980s. Most bubble tea recipes contain a tea base mixed with fruit or milk. Ice-blended versions are usually mixed with fruit or syrup, resulting in a slushy consistency. Most bubble teas come with small chewy tapioca balls commonly called ‘pearls’ or ‘boba’.
There are many variants of the drink, with a wide variety of ingredients to add depending on the shop. Two of the most popular varieties of bubble tea are bubble milk tea with tapioca balls and a fruit tea with fruit-based bubbles. If you like your tea strong, do not hesitate to ask for black tea which will be stronger but tastier in a fruit juice mix.
Bubble tea isn’t just limited to tapioca balls, you can also choose from aloe, egg pudding (custard pudding), sago, and taro balls can also be found in most tea houses. Jelly is also used in small cubes, stars, or rectangular strips, with flavors such as coconut jelly, konjac, lychee, grass, mango, and green tea often available at some shops. Rainbow – a fruit mix of konjac – has a pliant almost crispy consistency. Azuki bean or mung bean paste, also typical toppings for Taiwanese shaved ice desserts, gives the drink an added subtle flavour as well as texture.
How it is packaged?
There are many different ways of serving bubble tea. Two of the most popular include serving the drink in a plastic cup with a domed lid(much like a milkshake), or in a similar plastic cup sealed over the top with plastic, you then use your straw to pierce the lid to get to your drink. All bubble teas come with a thicker than usual straw, designed to allow the drinker to suck up the fruit or tapioca balls.
A list of bubble tea places around West End/Leicester Square/China Town/Soho are as follows:
- Boba Jam
- Bubbleolgy (Western Bubble tea)
- Candy Cafe
- Café de Hong Kong
- HK Diner
If you know any bubble tea places in your area, leave a comment in the section below and help out your fellow bubble tea seekers!