Boba Tea: A Sweet Treat with a Fun Texture

This photo depicts two different boba drinks from Teapioca Lounge. The one to the left is taro tea with tapioca, and the one to the right is brown sugar chai with tapioca.

Boba is a tea drink that’s known for being a Taiwanese delicacy. Also known as bubble tea or black pearl tea, boba originated from Dutch colonization between 1624 and 1662 and is supposed to represent a new beginning. It was in the 1980s that the first tea houses were created, and bubble tea was sold.

The first tea room was called Hanlin and was owned by Tu Tsang, who was inspired by the white tapioca balls that he found at the Ah-bo-lieu market in Taiwan. Tsang decided to mix the tapioca balls into tea and named the creation pearl tea. At the time, he thought the combination of ingredients added greater texture and many locals agreed. People began to love the tapioca so much and would scoop it from the bottom of the drink with spoons since, at that time, there was no straw big enough to consume the pearls simultaneously with the tea. Eventually, Tsang partnered with a plastic company to create customized straws that were big enough to allow the tapioca to go through and be consumed with the tea at the same time.

Soon, other tea rooms began to incorporate tapioca within their drinks. Chun Shui Tang Tea Room in Taichang was one of the first tea rooms to hop on the bandwagon when an employee put tapioca into her tea and encouraged her co-workers to do the same. The tea with tapioca became so popular with their customers that they eventually added pearl tea to their menu.
Both of the tea rooms contributed to the popularity of boba which has since become a global phenomenon. Boba is now sold at grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, and April 30 has been titled National Bubble Tea Day in Taiwan.

Perhaps where boba gains most of its popularity is the variety of flavors and the multiple combinations one can make. The base of boba is usually green, black, or oolong, and one can choose whether they wish their tea to be sweetened or not sweetened. Additionally, if one doesn’t wish to have the chewy tapioca at the bottom of their drink, they can choose to have the tea with no pearls.

Teapioca Lounge is a popular local boba place that is found in North Wales, PA. This specific boba location is a chain boba place and currently has 21 active locations, 13 of which are found in Texas. In recent years, the chain has begun to expand its locations into Colorado and Pennsylvania. In addition to boba, Teapioca sells shaved ice desserts and natural desserts. Currently, the company’s mission statement is to “give their customers the best value for their money and a service they will remember for a long time to come.”

In a recent interview with a Pennridge High School senior, Melissa Tuttle, she was asked if she had any requirements for boba, and she stated it needs to have “a good drink to boba ratio.” Melissa also mentioned how she really enjoyed boba the first time she tried it. Hannah Godshall, a film teacher at Pennridge High School, voiced different opinions about boba. When asked why she doesn’t like boba, she mentioned that she loves the tea but dislikes “the stuff in it; it’s just a texture thing.” Additionally, Godshall was asked if she believes boba has any redeeming qualities. She continued highlighting how she “loves the tea itself” and tried “all different kinds of tea.”

Some may disapprove of boba consumption as they dislike the higher costs of the teas, the lack of health benefits, and the texture of the tapioca itself. However, the tea is a sweet delicacy paired with a fun texture and a fantastic treat to indulge in every so often. Next time you’re out and looking for something fun to do, check out a local boba place and try it.