The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Bubble Tea: An introduction to a Taiwanese staple drink


By Darren Zee

What is bubble tea?

Bubble tea is a sweet and delicious treat made of tea with sugar and tapioca, served iced or hot. Milk is usually added to improve the taste and make it the popular “bubble milk tea.”

History of bubble tea

There are many different origin stories of bubble tea. One such tale claims that bubble tea was first made in Tainan, Taiwan in a small teahouse. In 1986, the inventor of bubble tea, Tu Tsong, was inspired by white tapioca and made it into pearls added to his tea. He called it “pearl tea.” He made bubble tea with white tapioca first and later changed it to black tapioca, which is why pearls are commonly black. Another story says that bubble tea was invented by Liu Han-Chieh. He came up with the idea of it by serving Chinese tea cold. Then, in 1988, his product development manager, Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui, was sitting in a staff meeting and had brought along a typical Taiwanese dessert called fen yuan, a sweetened tapioca pudding. Just for fun, she poured the tapioca balls into her Assam iced tea and drank it. “Everyone at the meeting loved the drink and it quickly outsold all of our other iced teas within a couple of monthseven after 20 years on the menu, bubble tea makes up 80-90% of our sales and Taiwanese are proud of this home-grown drink,” said Lin. To sum it all up, the real history of bubble tea could be any one of the stories on the internet; you might never find the right one.


There are lots of different location of where they are. One of the most famous ones is called 50 Lan, which supplied TASMUN with bubble tea for its annual fundraiser yesterday. This chain store is all around Taipei and you can also find many other chain stores which sell bubble tea at affordable prices around 50 to 70 NT per cup.

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