Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team
Arguably, one of Taiwan’s biggest cultural impacts on the world is the spread of milk pearl tea, referencing the chewy, often sweet spheres made from tapioca and served with tea. Other parts of the world know this drink as bubble tea or boba. Keep in mind that it’s best to call it pearl tea while visiting Taipei, since "boba" is crude slang in Taiwanese.
While the actual origin of pearl tea is unconfirmed, one of the most well-known contenders for the claim is Chun Shui Tang. Mr. Liu Han-Cheh who founded Chun Shui Tang was one of the first to serve tea cold back in the 1980s. He was inspired by a trip to Japan where he experienced tea served cold. As the company tells the story, the Taiwanese tapioca pears were added to the tea in 1987 by a 20-year-old female manager, Lin Hsiu-hui (林秀慧).
One day at the teahouse, Lin experimented by mixing tapioca balls with iced milk tea and also lemon black tea. The drink was a hit with her coworkers and put on the menu. By the 1990s, teahouses all over the country had their own versions of the drink.
The old-school way to make pearl tea is with a base of green, black, or oolong tea and adding milk and tapioca pearls as a “topping.” These days, however, allow for more customization. You can order tea without milk, smoothies, or fruit juices, and top their drinks with fruit jellies, sago, or other toppings typically associated with Asian desserts. At Chun Shui Tang, you can even have boba with coffee! There are also snacks and light meals served on site. The food menu highlights Taiwanese favorites like fried chicken, beef noodle soup, and handmade noodles with minced pork.
Cover photo by sam651030 is made available on Pixabay.