All over North America, Bubble tea shops like Bubblicity, Zenzoo and Chatime are springing up. The drink is so popular that it has spread to Europe, making a huge splash in large cities like London, Paris, Dublin and Germany.
“Palmleaf Raspbery” and “Belgian Cinnamon” are just some of the unique European-inspired flavors that Parisians can’t help lining up for and McDonalds is even adding bubble tea to 800 of its McCafes in Germany.
So what is bubble tea and where are its origins?
Think of bubble tea as a gummy candy milkshake made of chilled tea, milk and fruit. The gummy candy is the large chewy tapioca balls that you suck up through a fat straw. With wacky exotic flavors like red bean, taro (a purple Chinese root), sesame and kumquat, this treat was originally enjoyed by children but is now equally irresistible to adults.
It all started in 1988 in a Taiwanese tea house called Shui Tang. During a staff meeting, the product manager, Lin Hsiu Hui was eating a sweetened tapioca dessert when she suddenly had the urge to pour the whole mess into her iced tea. The strange-looking confection ended up tasting so good that the shop decided to sell it as brand new flavor. Needless to say, it sold out quickly.
Then the drink gained pan-Asian fame when it aired on a popular Japanese TV show. The trend quickly travelled across Asian, into North America and became the delicious phenomenon we now know as bubble tea.
When it comes to authenticity and skill, no one can really match Shui Tang. Not only do they pick quality ingredients, their staff train for six whole months to prepare the ultimate cup of Taiwanese tea! They even use something called “refractomer”, a fancy doodad used to measure the sweetness of each drink, thereby satisfying even the of pickiest of bubble tea connoisseurs. How’s that for dedication?
Hooked on bubble tea since the tender age of 16, I’m thankful that Ms.Lin happened to be stuck in that boring meeting.
So the next time you’re trapped in a boring meeting, seize the day like Ms. Lin did. Take the closest thing to you and just dump it into the second closest thing. You might become a bazillionaire too!