Bubble tea is one of the biggest food fads of the moment. It’s not a healthy tea, but it tastes great, it’a fairly cheap and it’s great fun for adults and kids alike! If you’re new to this tea then keep reading to learn all about it, including ways that you can make it yourself at home.
What is Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea also goes by names like “pearl tea” and “boba tea”. It can be hot, cold or warm; it can be plain or milky; and it can be sweetened with sugar, honey, condensed milk or nothing at all. But the one constant with bubble tea are the balls or “bubbles” that float around in the bottom of the drink.
These are made from tapioca starch that can be injected with fruit concentrates to make them flavourful as well as soft and chewy. The drink looks unique and is often served in clear cups to accentuate this. It is also somewhat unique taste wise, although it all depends on how you take it and in some cases it can taste like milky iced tea or chai tea.
Where did Boba Tea Come From?
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and has since spread throughout the world. There are chains in the US and across Europe that seem to be growing in popularity with each passing day.
Although Taiwan has a rich and extensive history where great tea and food is concerned (it is home to some of the world’s best food markets after all) boba tea is actually a fairly recent development. It was first sold in the 1980s and took a couple decades before it began to take hold outside of Asia.
What is it Made From?
Boba tea, as mentioned above, can be made from a multitude of teas, most commonly green and black tea. The balls are really the only constant as tapioca starch is used for its chewiness, its stability and its delicate flavour. It’s also cheap.
Honey, milk, condensed milk, cream, sugar, fruit juices and more can also be added to create new varieties of this tea. Some produces even create bubble tea that doesn’t contain any tea at all, using fruit juices instead.
Make Bubble Tea at Home
The tapioca starch balls are a hassle to create at home and it’s really not worth it. You can buy packs that contain these balls and the other tools you need to make bubble tea, but those other “tools” are really just tea bags and a plastic syringe to inject fruit juice. In the end you pay a premium for something that you could get for 1/4 of the price separately.
If you want to make bubble tea at home cheaply and easily then just buy some tapioca starch balls from the grocery store or online. They should cost you no more than a few dollars a pack and you will get enough to make half a dozen large cups of tea. From there you just need to make your own iced tea or hot tea drink. Make it how you like it, but err on the sweeter and creamer side as this is a decadent drink that’s supposed to pack a calorific punch.
Bubble Tea Locations in the UK
There aren’t that many bubble tea suppliers in the United Kingdom at the time of writing. If there is anyone out there looking for a new venture or franchise, take note, because this could be just what you need. Although you will need to move fast, lest this fad die out or become saturated.
See the UK locations below to learn where to enjoy the best bubble tea in many UK towns and cities.
Bubble Tea London
Bubbleology in Soho has been selling this tea for a few years now and also has a selection of other teas for you to try. The same goes for Biju Bubble Tea Room, while Boba Box sells supplies. The capital is not short on tea rooms and bubble tea places, so you can get your fill wherever you are in London.
Bubble Tea Newcastle
The TeaShed seems to be one of the only places selling this drink in Newcastle and Northumberland. It’s a young, vibrant city though and ventures like this always seem to do well, so there’s a good chance that we have missed something. There’s an equally good chance that there will be more bubble tea places opening up in the future as well.
Bubble Tea Manchester
We haven’t been there ourselves, but we’ve heard good things about Chatime in Manchester. You can find this tearoom on Princess Street and as far as we can tell, it’s one of your only options for bubble tea in this city. There’s a good chance we’ve overlooked some other venues here and in Chester and Liverpool though because these are the sort of cities where these locations would thrive.
Bubble Tea Scotland
There is a Chatime in Edinburgh if you happen to be visiting this culturally rich city and want to stop by for a cosy drink. There is also Tempo Tea Bar in Glasgow, which proudly declares itself as “Glasgow’s Best Bubble Tea Bar”. It doesn’t seem to have much competition in that field, but it has been getting scores of great reviews, so we have to assume that their statement is on the money.
There aren’t a great deal of boba tea locations in Scotland once you venture away from these two cities, but Aberdeen seems to be another good bet for them as it’s a rice, culturally diverse city on the rise and knows a good fad when it sees one.
Other Bubble Tea Locations in the UK
There are a few top bubble tea bars in Yorkshire, with some standout venues in York, Leeds and Sheffield in particular. They are young, vibrant cities, not unlike Newcastle, and that’s ensured the continued success of these franchises. After all, while every one has jumped on the boba tea train it seems to be more popular with younger men and women who have seen this drink snapped on Instagram or referenced on TV and want to try it for themselves.