The Origins of Bubble Tea

The Origins of Bubble Tea


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The origins of tapioca pearls

Tapioca pearls are believed to have originated in Brazil, where they are commonly used in a popular dessert called "pudim de tapioca" (tapioca pudding). Tapioca is derived from the cassava plant, which is native to South America and was cultivated by indigenous tribes in the region for thousands of years.

Tapioca pearls are made from tapioca starch. Tapioca pearls are made:

  1. Harvest cassava roots: Cassava roots are harvested from the cassava plant, which is native to South America and is now grown in many countries around the world.
  2. Extract tapioca starch: The cassava roots are peeled, grated, and washed to remove impurities. The resulting pulp is then soaked in water, and the starch settles to the bottom of the container. The water is drained off, and the wet starch is dried and sifted to create tapioca flour.
  3. Mix tapioca flour with water: Tapioca flour is mixed with water to form a dough-like consistency.
  4. Roll and shape the dough: The dough is rolled and shaped into small, round balls. The balls are then placed on a tray and allowed to dry.
  5. Cook the tapioca pearls: The dried tapioca pearls are boiled in water until they become translucent and soft. They are then rinsed with cold water and can be used in a variety of recipes, including bubble tea and tapioca pudding.

Note that the exact process for making tapioca pearls may vary depending on the manufacturer and the type of tapioca pearls being produced. Additionally, some tapioca pearls may contain additional ingredients, such as sugar or food colouring, to enhance their flavour or appearance.

It's unclear exactly how tapioca pearls made their way from Brazil to Taiwan, but it is likely that the pearls were introduced to Taiwanese cuisine through the global food trade.

Tapioca, the main ingredient in tapioca pearls, is a plant native to South America and has been used in traditional Brazilian cuisine for centuries. In the 1800s, cassava was brought to Asia and Africa through trade and colonisation, and it was likely through these channels that tapioca pearls eventually made their way to Taiwan.

The beginnings of bubble tea

Liu Han-Chieh, a Taiwanese businessman, is often credited with inventing bubble tea, which is also known as boba tea. The story goes that in the 1980s, Liu was running a tea shop called Chun Shui Tang in Taichung, Taiwan. He was inspired by the popularity of Japanese cold coffee and wanted to create a similar beverage using tea.

One day, while experimenting with different ingredients, Liu added tapioca balls to his iced tea. The tapioca balls sank to the bottom of the cup, and he noticed that they created a fun and unique texture. He began selling the new drink, which he called "pearl milk tea," and it quickly became popular with his customers.

Liu's invention caught on, and other tea shops in Taiwan began serving their own versions of the drink. The name "bubble tea" came later, after someone noticed that the shaking process used to mix the ingredients created a frothy layer of bubbles on the surface of the drink.

Today, bubble tea is enjoyed around the world, with countless variations and flavors available. Liu's contribution to the beverage industry is widely recognized, and he is often referred to as the "father of bubble tea."

Bubble tea gained popularity in Taiwan and other parts of East Asia in the 1990s, and eventually spread to other parts of the world, including the United States, Europe and Australia. Today, bubble tea is a beloved drink with a wide variety of flavours and toppings, and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

The drink has become a cultural icon and has even inspired its own subculture, with bubble tea shops and festivals, as well as social media influencers and bloggers sharing their favourite bubble tea recipes and experiences.

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