Do You Know Your Boba?
Sprinkles or jimmies?
Or what about… blobs?
The New York Times describes boba, sweetened tapioca pearls, as “blobs” that anyone can add as toppings to their favorite milk tea.
Chewy and honeyed, the texture roller coaster’s story is one of spontaneous fusion.
T H E H I S T O R Y
Back in the 1980’s, there was no boba.
But there was Liu Han-Chieh, a food stall owner in Taiwan, who would change the course of tea forever. Just before the birth of her famous creation, Liu Han-Chieh saw coffee being served cold for the first time in Japan. She did the same with her tea products when she returned to Taiwan.
Then, during one particular meeting in 1988, Liu Han-Chieh noticed her product development manager enjoying Fen Yuan, also known as sweetened tapioca pudding. Han-Chieh dumped the tapioca into her tea. The meeting members absolutely adored the sudden creation; from here, Han-Chieh began to officially develop the beloved drink we have today.
The boba craze spread internationally after the large movement of Taiwanese immigration to America in the 90’s. From then on, boba shops started to appear on every corner to share the drink from culture to culture.
T H E N O W
The boba chains are still expanding all throughout the country. Different shops have their own quirks to offer, but how you order is universal throughout.
The base begins with a black or green tea. Then, the fun begins.
Take handfuls of syrups and variant milks for a sugary explosion, or add fruity juices for a light and fresh taste. Personalize your drink the way you like it or try the endless possibilities to become a credible boba connoisseur.
By the way, be sure to also grab the larger straw when ordering – a regular one won’t be able to slurp the pearls up!
Boba shops encompass culture.
Sometimes you’ll see many who just come and go with their daily order. Other times, you’ll catch the loyal communities who love the Taiwanese drink and the bit more it has to offer.
It’s all about space.
After dinner date nights. Team meetings. Casual meet ups. And of course, the group of stressed out students approaching midterm season. Boba shops are always full of all kinds of people because it’s not just about a drink, but who you get your sugary tea with.
T H E F U T U R E
Nobody really knows the future of boba. Will it get dunked in unimaginable syrups? Or maybe even become something savory instead of sweet?
A glimpse of what is to come can be seen by how Grace Street launched NYC’s first boba toast. The tapioca pearls jumped from sitting at the bottom of a milky tea to on top of sweet, creamy, ice cream paired honey bread.
So whether it’s a classic milk tea, a fruity passion fruit juice, or green tea shaved ice, explore the limitless possibilities to the chewiest sweet topping around: boba!