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Bubble Tea: All You Need To Know About Taiwan’s Favourite Drink


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Sunny

Bubble Tea, Pearl Milk Tea, Taiwan
© Lianhe Zaobao

Bubble tea is a beverage that originated in Taiwan, and has now made its way to most parts of the world. Tea lovers have been gushing over this drink and they should, because it tastes amazing.


So, what exactly is bubble tea? Let’s talk about this sweet and milky beverage in a little more detail.


Bubble Tea In A Nutshell

Bubble tea has many names. Some of the most famous ones are pearl milk tea, boba tea or boba milk tea. This beverage has been one of the favourite drinks in East Asian countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China ever since the 1980s. And it is basically made by combining a tea base with milk, and sometimes with fresh fruits or fruit juices.


Bubble Tea, Pearl, Taiwan, Boba

© Photo by The Photokitchen on Flickr


The signature ingredient in bubble tea is, of course, the bubbles or the tapioca pearls. Drinkers love the chewy texture and savoury taste of these pearls. Bubble tea is usually served in transparent cups with a straw to showcase the bubbles in it. Drinkers can have it served hot or cold, with or without milk. In some cases, it does not even consist of tea.


So, what is boba, or these tiny bubbles that make this beverage so special? In simple words, boba is a cassava starch ball. The starch called tapioca is extracted from the roots of the cassava plant and this is used to make translucent balls that have been used in desserts and ice creams for a long time. However, someone thought of adding them into tea. So now, we have one of the best creations in the food world.


Types Of Bubble Tea

Just like the numerous kinds of coffee recipes, since bubble tea has different tea bases, complete with different flavourings and toppings, there are endless variations to it.


The traditional bubble tea consists of four major ingredients. Namely, freshly brewed tea which can be black tea or any other kind, a sweetening agent, milk, and boba. Other drinks are made by swapping any of these four ingredients and adding other ingredients such as fresh fruits, shaved ice, flavoured syrups and much more.


Here are some of the common types of bubble tea you can find around you!



Pearl Milk Tea

Pearl Milk Tea, Bubble Tea, Taiwan

© Photo by Rosalind Chang on Unsplash


The classic bubble tea has a black tea base. Mix some frothy into the black tea and shake it along with crushed ice and bubbles. This classic milk tea is the first-ever bubble tea that was discovered, and still remains as one of the crowd’s favourite. So, if you want to know what the classic taste is like, this is the one for you.



Brown Sugar Milk Tea

Brown Sugar Milk Tea, Bubble Tea, Taiwan

© Photo by Phan Anh Tran on Unsplash


Brown sugar milk tea is the new hot favourite of bubble tea fans. This is currently the best seller in the Taiwanese market, and even in other Asian countries. Brown sugar milk tea is easily recognised by its brown swirls in between the fresh white milk. This popular drink is made by combining boba pearls cooked in brown sugar syrup and fresh milk.



Flavoured Milk Tea

If you don’t like the classic option, you can opt for some flavoured milk tea. Some of the more popular flavours are honeydew, passion fruit, strawberry, and even yogurt! Other variations of milk tea include tea bases such as Oolong, Tieguanyin or Earl Grey. Try mixing around the different choices and find one that suits your tastebuds!



Taro Bubble Tea

Taro Milk Tea, Bubble Tea, Taiwan

© Reddit


Taro is a root that is used in making taro milk tea. This is a milk tea blended with taro roots to make it thick and tasty. Hey, don’t be put off by its bright purple colour! In fact, it has a smooth cream-like texture with a refreshing taste.



Matcha Bubble Tea

Matcha Milk Tea, Bubble Tea, Taiwan

© http://www.heymodestmarce.com


The green-coloured milk tea is probably one of the healthiest on this list. Matcha tea is gaining popularity around the world for its health benefits. Matcha tea is similar to green tea, but with a more creamy texture. To make this even healthier, you can order it in almond or coconut milk, without any sweetener.



Iced Fruit Tea

Iced Fruit Tea, Bubble Tea, Taiwan

© Photo by Zun Zun from Pexels


If you’re not a fan of milk-based drinks, don’t worry! There are plenty of fruit tea variations for you to choose from. This is a refreshing cold beverage, consisting of fresh fruits, induced with fresh fruit juices or fruit syrups, and a tea base. Most bubble tea shops have their own house blends, so take your pick! 


Customise Your Own Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea, White Pearl, Taiwan

© Photo by Moujib Aghrout on Unsplash


More than just savouring a cup of bubble tea on a hot day, the best part is that you’re able to customise your own drink!


There are various kinds of bubbles, or pearls, for you to choose from. Apart from the usual black pearls that you’re already familiar with, new variations such as white pearls, mini pearls, flavoured pearls, and popping pearls have started making a scene in the market.


So now, you can have your own personalised bubble tea by choosing your favourite type of bubbles to go with your milk tea!


Drinking Bubble Tea The Correct Way

When your beverage is served in a sealed cup, remember to shake it to mix up all the bubbles before you stick your thick straw into the drink. Keep stirring your beverage every now and then, so that you can enjoy the bubbles in every mouthful!


Nevertheless, no matter how you drink it, as long as you enjoy your bubble tea, that’s the most important thing!


Where Can I Find Them In Taiwan?



It’s so popular that bubble tea shops are popping up at all corners on the streets of Taiwan. You’ll even see locals and tourists holding a cup each everywhere you go! 


Some of the locals’ favourite bubble tea shops are 50 Lan, TP Tea, Jenjudan, Tiger Sugar, and many more! 


Bubble tea is surely gaining a lot of popularity all around the world. Given the diverse flavour offerings, we’re sure there is something for everyone. So, have a cup of bubble tea in your city, or on your next trip to Taiwan!


* This article was contributed by Akshay Sharma.