Guest Post: The History of Bubble Tea by Mike at BubbleTeaology

I am pleased to have the opportunity to publish a guest post from Mike at BubbleTeaology, a distributor of equipment and machinery used to create the popular tea beverage known as Bubble Tea.

Bubble Tea is offered in some Asian restaurants, as well as independent stands and kiosks in malls, airports, and other high-traffic spaces. My son loves to get a cup of Bubble Tea as an after dinner treat at a local Thai restaurant near our home, Thai Foon.

I would like to thank Mike for taking his time to prepare this write-up for the Tea Journeyman blog. If you own a restaurant, beverage or snack stand, or any business that could benefit from offering Bubble Tea, please contact Bubble Teaology. They have all the tools and supplies to help jumpstart your new Bubble Tea product line.

Now, let’s give the spotlight to Mike, and allow him the opportunity to teach us more about Bubble Tea.

The History of Bubble Tea

      Tea has been enjoyed by many for thousands of years and over that time, various recipes and varieties have been created by tea lovers. One fairly recent addition is called bubble tea. Let’s take look at the history of bubble tea and find out where and how this variation came about. 

It all began in the early 1980s in a small tea shop in Taiwan. Tea is popular with school children in Taiwan, and tea stands set up outside of schools would compete for the students’ business. One enterprising owner started mixing fruit flavors with the tea, creating a delicious and refreshing drink that the children loved. Mixing the flavor with the tea required some vigorous shaking, which resulted in thousands of tiny air bubbles and gave rise to the name “Bubble Tea”.


The next step in the history of bubble tea is the introduction of tapioca pearls to cold infused beverages. Credit for this advancement is given to Taiwanese resident Liu Han-Chieh, who began topping drinks with the pearls in 1983. The tapioca pearls are meant to be consumed along with the beverage, giving the tea drinker a truly unique experience.

The tapioca pearls looked like another set of bubbles, this time residing at the bottom of the glass. The term “bubble tea” was used for shaken, flavored tea whether it had the pearls or not. So a new variety was born.  This trend has taken off around the world and in the US with bubble tea shops opening up everywhere. Adding to the fascination of bubble tea are the bubble tea machines that shake and seal bubble tea.

Fans of bubble tea with tapioca pearls enjoy their distinctive flavor and consistency. The pearls can be white or black, with the white pearls being pure tapioca and the darker ones mixing in some cassava root or brown sugar. In either case, the result is a gummy, chewy ball that is called the tapioca pearl. Bubble tea beverages that contain these pearls are served with an extra wide straw so you can suck up the pearls as you are drinking your tea.

The use of tapioca pearls gave rise to many other names for bubble tea. You may see it offered as pearl milk tea, boba tea, pearl ice tea and tapioca ball drink to name a few. Most bubble tea has a cold, fruit-infused tea as its foundation. You can easily identify this beverage by the pearls, which appear to be bubbles, at the bottom of a clear glass, or by the wide straw provided with your drink.

Though it originated in Taiwan and became wildly popular in that country, the taste for bubble tea has spread throughout the world. New mixtures using milk and different ingredients to create the pearls are constantly being tried. You can get a bubble tea beverage with pearls comprised of green tea, sago, taro or jelly, to name a few. It seems that the only limiting factor is the imagination of the creator, ensuring that the history of bubble tea is still a work in progress. Try a glass and see if you agree that it is a unique and refreshing beverage. You’ll probably be back for more!

Author Bio:

Mike is originally from the US but has spent the past 6 years in Taiwan and 2 of those years working for one of the largest bubble tea shops in Taiwan.  Now he is the owner of BubbleTeaology which supplies Boba Tea Machines and Wholesale Ingredients to drink shops around the world.