Bubble tea has become wildly popular in recent years. What makes the drink such a sensation is a mystery. Of course the chewy pearls inside the tea or beverage plays a huge role. But many think the hidden gem is the syrup that graces the drink.
What is Boba Tea?
Boba is the fascinating little pearls inside bubble tea that are made of tapioca or cassava starch which give the drink it’s name. Boba tea was invented in Taiwan. Boba translates to mean “big bubbles” and while they are one of the main attractions in bubble tea and certainly contribute to the tantalizing texture, they aren’t all that tasty. In fact, they really don’t have that much taste at all. It’s the base beverage, syrup, toppings, and fillings that make the beverages burst with flavor.
Syrups and Such
The syrup inside boba tea is basically added to flavor the boba balls and to sweeten the drink too. One of the most popular syrup concoctions is made with brown sugar but white sugar can be used as well. Some even use a half-in-half mixture or sweeten with another ingredient entirely – like honey or agave.
Most bubble tea syrup recipes call for 2 cups of water to 2 cups of sugar. Typically, only 1 – 2 tablespoons of the concentrated syrup is distributed in the tea, milk, or whatever base liquid is being used.
Bubble tea syrups can also be flavored even further. Strawberry, mango, blueberry, peach, passion fruit, raspberry, grape, coconut, lichee, latte, expresso, mocha, vanilla, caramel, and maple are some of the most popular syrups. Combinations of those flavors are common too. You’ll even find healthy medicinal options such as peppermint and lavender flavorings.
The real fun begins with inventive syrups where unusual blends are discovered. The mix of the chewy pearls in the beverage alongside the creative flavors of the syrup make for a tea, milk tea, milk, juice, or other beverage that’s bursting with flavor and texture.
How Boba Tea Got Its Start
There are actually two stories of how bubble tea originated. One says that it all began in 1986 in a quaint teahouse in Tainan, Taiwan when the owner of the establishment, Tu Tshong-he was mesmerized by the white pearls of tapioca in a nearby marketplace. He purchased some, went back to his teahouse and began experimenting with them. He placed them in tea and found the combination to be heavenly. He called the invention “pearl tea”.
The second story is believed by some to have taken place two years later, in Taichung, Taiwan. It too took place in a teahouse. The tearoom had just began serving cold tea. One of the managers added tapioca balls to a glass of the cold beverages and found it to be delightful. Others agreed and boba tea was born.
Whichever story is true, if either one even are, it is clear that bubble tea originated in Taiwan – most likely in a teahouse. At some point, syrup was added to the mix to give boba tea and other boba beverages more flavor. The idea stuck.
Throughout the course of three decades, bubble tea has become a worldwide craze. More than “just a fad”, the boba tea industry is growing at a rate of about 8% per year with no signs of slowing down. There are boba teahouses or establishments in most major countries, more than 3.400 of them in the United States alone.
One of the most attractive and impressive characteristics of bubble tea is the options it offers. Boba can be served in so many different beverages – both hot and cold. You can opt for the chewy pearls or those that pop without the need to chew.
Syrups make the boba tea world go round too. You can make your drink as sugary sweet as you’d like or can choose to use honey or agave, stevia, or another sugarless sweetener if you are not wanting the extra calories or have diabetes or a medical condition that doesn’t allow for processed white or brown sugar.
Past that, you can order your syrup flavored. Fruit is a popular choice but there is a myriad of other flavoring options too. You can also make your own flavoring and use it on bubble tea that you put together at home or your own homemade version.
Where to Buy Boba Tea and Boba Tea Syrups
If you’re hankering for a nice, rich bubble tea, you can search online for an establishment near you. Other places, like restaurants, health food stores, and teahouses, also sell boba tea and boba beverages. You can also purchase it at grocery stores – fresh or in a can. There are some boba establishments that offer portable versions such as boba in a bottle or boba on the go.
Making your own boba tea is another option worth considering, especially if there are no boba tea shops near you. You’ll start with a base beverage – like tea, milk tea, or juice. Add the boba balls according to the directions. Add in the syrup flavoring of your choice which can be purchased through a retailer, like Amazon, or some bubble tea establishments. Or, you can make your own syrup for flavoring. You’ll find plenty of recipes online. Finally, gently stir in a filling if you’d like such as fruit or berries and top it all off with the topping of your choice like whip cream or a swirl of more delicious syrup.
The best thing about boba tea syrup is it can be customized to your liking. From choosing the caloric value and nutritional content to picking your favorite flavors, the syrup in bubble tea certainly adds its value to the iconic beverage.
Experience the Fun…and the Flavor
Boba tea is a fun, interesting, and delightful drink where chewy bubbles, add an intriguing texture to teas and other beverages and the syrup of your choice makes it come alive with flavor. If you’ve tried boba tea, you know. If you haven’t…maybe you should.