Bubble Tea for the Curious Soul

8 Feb

Hi everyone!

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Bubble tea is one of those drinks that some people assume is only really around in the summer time. But it’s actually available all year round, can be served hot or cold, and is a great way to add some flavor to your menu. We found some good info from a few different articles to share with you. Enjoy!

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The Post Gazette answers two good questions to get us started: Bubble Tea is a Sweet Asian Treat that Eyeballs You Back

What is bubble tea, anyway?

Bubble tea (sometimes known as ‘boba tea’), as might be expected, began as a beverage based on tea. But today, the drink is now more commonly known for its fruity or even flowery incarnations. Served hot or cold, common flavors include mango, lychee, and strawberry, but even sesame, taro, and lavender variants can be found.

The characteristic pea-sized tapioca also varies. Though black tapioca pearls — those eyeball-like elements — made from the root of the cassava plant are ubiquitous, clear and white tapioca pearls (some made from caramel, starch and chamomile root) also are used.

With a chewy texture akin to a cross between a gummy bear and mochi rice dough, the pearls lend an edible element to the drink. They’re also the aspect of bubble tea that’s most likely to provoke queasiness, but for those who love them, the “bubbles” are the best part.

What’s this crazy tea’s History?

Though bubble tea is now known for its tapioca pearls, the drink actually got its name in a different manner.

Bubble tea is reported to have originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, when tea stands competing for after-school business among students began adding fruit flavors to their drinks. The tea and the flavoring had to be shaken vigorously for an even consistency, which resulted in frothy bubbles in the beverage.

Liu Han Chie, who owned Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan, claims that he was the first to add tapioca to the tea in 1983, and the idea quickly caught on. But no matter who the inventor of bubble tea was, tapioca pearls have been an inseparable element ever since.

The popular drink soon spread to other Asian countries before traveling to North America via the Asian community in Vancouver, then popped up in trendy cities on the West Coast. Now, bubble tea can be found across the country. Luckily, no lengthy pilgrimage is needed to get your hands on one of these drinks, as many Pittsburgh establishments feature bubble tea on their menus.

Some of you may now be wondering, where can I find a place that serves bubble tea?
Although it may require a little hunting, bubble tea is sometimes easier to find than you might think. A variety of restaurants and tea or coffee houses offer a good selection. Here is a brief list we’ve compiled to help you get thinking.
Pittsburgh:
The Rose Tea Cafe (Forbes Ave, Squirrel Hill)
Lu Lu’s Noodles (Craig Street, Oakland)
The Beehive Coffee House (South Side)
Florida:
Shing Wang Bubble Tea Café (NE 167th St., North Miami Beach)
Got Tea? (West Waters Ave, Tampa)
North Carolina:
Pho Vinh Long (601 D St., South Charleston)
South Carolina:
Bubble Tea Cafe (1260 A6 Bower Parkway, Colombia)
Texas:
Boba Tea (4933 Belt Line Rd, Addison)
Coco’s Cafe (8557 Research Blvd # 118, Austin)
What if I want to make it myself?

You can absolutely make bubble tea yourself! There are a ton of recipes out there. Here’s one you can try:

  • 1/2 cup dried pearl tapioca
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 cup very strong chilled black tea
  • 1 cup milk, or to taste
  • Sugar to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat, then add tapioca pearls. Stir lightly and let the pearls float to top. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, covered. Turn off the heat and let the tapioca sit for 15 minutes, then rinse under cold water.

Mix the ice, tea, milk and sugar in a shaker, until the liquid is frothy and blended. Place about 1/4 cup tapioca mixture in bottom of large glass, and pour the drink over it.

Makes a 16-ounce drink.

— whatscookingamerica.net

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One Response to “Bubble Tea for the Curious Soul”

  1. Pam February 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    This tea looks fun and yummy! I’m going on a quest in Pittsburgh, and I think I’ll try the recipe, too! Thanks!

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