I’d been enjoying bubble tea for years while living in Asia, and hardly expected to find it in South Africa. On my return, I was surprised to see that bubble tea spots had bubbled up all over the country.
What is bubble tea?
Most bubble tea drinks contain an iced tea base mixed with fruit flavour or milk, with small chewy tapioca balls. However, since the invention of bubble tea in Taiwan in the 80s, the drink has evolved to include many flavours and textures.
Chewy tapioca balls in iced tea; doesn’t sound appealing? I was sceptical at first too, but there’s something novel yet practical about the squishy, chewy tapioca balls in cold, milky, sweet, flavoured tea that’s both thirst-quenching and hunger-busting.
In addition, it’s great for when you’re on-the-go because most bubble tea bars use a sealing machine to put a flat cellophane seal over the cup. This prevents leaking until you pierce the sealed top with a fat straw – which allows you to suck up the last of the delicious ‘bubbles’.
When I first moved to Taiwan, I bought plain bubble tea. It was so addictive and sweet, I thought I was going to get diabetes. When I saw the English menu, I learned that you could specify the amount of sugar you want. I normally went with 25%. Also, you could choose the amount of ice. I went with ‘a little.’ A customised, revitalising drink and meal in one. What’s not to love?
Bubble tea vocab:
Bubble tea is also known as:
Pearl milk tea
Boba milk tea
Tapioca pearl drink
Momi milk tea
“The drink with the fat straw”, or any combination of the above.
Boba or pearls: tapioca balls
Popping Bobas: film-covered fruit juice balls that burst in your mouth.
You can get bubble tea in South Africa at The Bubble Tea Company.
Have you tried bubble tea?