Lookout there’s chewy balls at the bottom of your drink- is this a mistake? No actually the opposite!
The concept of chewy tapioca balls at the bottom of drinks, more specifically in iced teas- originated in Taiwan in the 1890s. This combination drink is most commonly known as “bubble tea,” but other names for the drink include “boba,” “pearl milk tea,” “pearl tea,” and so on.
When someone mentions the name “bubble tea,” most people first think of the common flavor and image of the light brown bubble milk tea. This flavor is known as the original flavor of bubble tea because of its simplicity. Because of that, companies use the image of the drink to make merchandise and many bubble milk tea flavored snacks/foods out of it. If there is merchandise and snacks inspired from the drink, just how many bubble tea shops are there?
There are actually many chains of bubble tea shops in the city that you can count from- from the big bubble tea chains like Gongcha, Kung Fu Tea, and CoCo to local bubble tea shops, such as Sweet Cats Cafe, Mr. Wish, and Mi Tea.
As someone who drinks bubble tea often, I usually find myself either grabbing a drink from Sweet Cats Cafe which is 10 minutes away, walking distance, from school or a drink from Kung Fu Tea which stores are found often in Manhattan and Queens. Both of these chains have similar drink flavors, such as milk tea, taro milk tea, mango green tea, and other fruit teas as well as fruit slushes. However, there is a difference when it comes to specialty drinks the chains offer such as a Sesame Oolong Milk Tea from Kung Fu Tea and a Galaxy Yakult from Sweet Cats Cafe. Their tapioca balls are also different- Kung Fu Tea’s tapioca balls are more round and firm and have more of a brown sugar taste. The tapioca balls at Sweet Cats however, are round but not as well shaped nor firm as the tapioca balls from Kung Fu and lately have an interesting floral taste rather than the traditional brown sugar taste.
Bubble tea is everywhere, from actual stores being placed in the city to milk bubble tea flavored products and merchandise being sold. The rage and trend of the fun drink was first seen in East Asia and then was shown to the rest of the world (thank you). New and fun flavors along with many toppings are always popping out from boba shops every day, but original and common combinations will always be there!