Whether I’m spending the day studying alone at a cafe or hanging out with friends, I almost always can be seen sipping on a refreshing boba milk tea. This sweet and creamy Taiwanese beverage, also referred to as pearl milk tea, has been around since the 80’s, but has risen to popularity in recent years, with more and more trendy boba shops popping up everywhere.
The creation of boba milk tea can be traced back to 1988, when Lin Hsiu Hui, a worker at a Taiwanese teahouse, was sitting in a meeting at work and felt tempted to pour tapioca balls into her assam iced tea. After realizing it was a delicious combination, she had her co-workers try it, which led to the teahouse owners adding the topping to the menu. It quickly became a hit.
Boba, or pearls, are small, chewy tapioca balls that are typically sweet, but light in flavor. Combined with your choice of tea, it makes a very satisfying and delicious drink.
Though addicting, boba milk tea is still considered a dessert, so it should be consumed in moderation. A scoop of tapioca balls can add more than 200 calories to the drink.
If you’ve never had boba milk tea, trying it from a boba chain is a safe place to start. My favorite chain is Boba Guys, which is a San Francisco based boba company. They have various locations in the Bay Area, as well as shops in Los Angeles and New York City. I personally love Boba Guys for its unique drink combinations, distinct flavor and the quality of its boba.
On Twitter, I posted a poll asking users to vote for their favorite chain. Out of 50 votes, TPumps ranked first, with 7Leaves and Sharetea tied for second place.
TPumps is a great option because you can customize your drinks by choosing up to three flavors for your tea. My go-to order is a honey lavender green milk tea.
Sharetea is also a popular chain, with over 500 teahouses in 15 countries.
Besides the results from the poll, Ding Tea is also a must-try. However, the chain only has shops in Southern California.
When ordering boba milk tea for the first time, you’ll be asked to choose between green tea or black tea and to pick a flavor. Black tea typically tastes sweeter than green tea.
For milk tea, safe flavors to try are jasmine, earl gray and winter melon.