What is bubble tea?  That’s the question that I hear most often from my friends.  The funny thing is, the “bubbles” in bubble tea aren’t quite what most people think they are. I always thought the bubbles in bubble tea were the tapioca pearls that were contained at the bottom of the cup.  When ordering bubble tea at a tea shop, there is small fee to add tapioca pearls to bubble tea.  This made me wonder why it was called bubble tea if you had to pay extra for the “bubbles”. I felt quite silly when I learned that the bubbles that gave bubble tea its name were the actual bubbles that would form on the top of the drink after being shaken.

So really, what is bubble tea? From my experience, bubble tea is a sweetened black tea or green tea based beverage with an added flavoring of either fruit syrup or flavored powder.  Ice is added to the mixture and it is usually shaken up in a cocktail shaker and strained into a clear plastic cup. A bubble tea straw which is essentially an oversized straw is then added to aid in the drinking of the bubble tea whether tapioca pearls are added or not.

When ordering “bubble tea” from a tea shop, I always opt for the tapioca pearls, because to me, it’s just not as good without them.  Although, once in a while I have ordered bubble tea at a casual Chinese restaurant and received a cup of fruit slush (seemingly absent of any tea at all) with tapioca pearls at the bottom.  However, to me bubble tea will always just be green or black tea mixed with sugar, additional flavoring and tapioca pearls.

Bubble tea can easily be purchased at a shop, but if you’re so inclined, you can always make bubble tea at home.  Its quick and easy with the right supplies.  Check out my version of how to make bubble tea right here.

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