Chances are if you’ve been shopping in London recently you may have come across a new beverage phenomenon called Bubble Tea. Bubble teas are a wide variety of refreshing flavoured fruit teas and milk teas, served ice cold or piping hot, with chewy natural tapioca balls that you suck up through a big fat straw. Sounds like a lunch to me and fans of the cool new drink say it’s rather like a quirky snack and drink in one. Some people say the drink gets its name from the tapioca balls which are sometimes referred to as ‘Pearls’ or ‘Boba’. Over time people say the word ‘boba’ has evolved into ‘Bubble’ – and hence we have Bubble tea. However, the true origins of the name come from the small floating bubbles that are created by the vigorous shaking involved in making Bubble tea. You have to have a specialist shaking machine that times this process to perfection.
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan, where the drink was invented in the early 1980’s. Just as we in the UK were listening to new romantic pop artists and boys were making over their faces, our counterparts in Taiwan were busy chewing and slurping the new craze that was already starting to take the country and the rest of the world by storm. The news of this new drink quickly spread to other Asian countries before sneaking through the back door of the China Towns all over North American and Australia. So how did Bubble tea end up in the UK? The story begins in 2005 when the founder of Bubbleology moved to New York from London to take up a new posting. This founder of Bubble tea had gotten to know the teas whilst living in New York and wanted to bring them over here. He travelled to Taiwan to learn exactly how to source the ingredients and make the Bubble tea. Traversing across four cities, he researched, collaborated and studied. From wise old street vendors and sassy restauranteurs he learned all that could be learned about Bubble Tea. Armed with this information and knowledge, he finally made his return to the UK where he partnered a mystery cohort, who’s enthusiasm from having sampled Bubble Tea in Australia and passion for all things colourful could be relied upon to help build their first café, Bubbleology.
The Bubble teas are made with a ‘base’ of green tea, black/red tea or white tea (all rich with antioxidants). The fruit teas are infused with natural fruit flavourings, as are the milk teas which some people describe as supercharged milkshake. There are seven milk teas and five fruit teas at present but Bubbleology are expanding and increasing the range all the time. In fact, to celebrate one of the most iconic tastes of a British summer, Bubbleology created a limited edition Strawberry & Cream Bubble Tea with fresh whipped cream and strawberry popping boba. The perfect addition to mark the great British celebrations taking place this year, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and of course, Wimbledon. From 1st May-30th July, the Strawberry & Cream Bubble Tea will be available at the Soho Bubbleology (0207 494 4231) and Fifth Floor Harvey Nichols store in Knightsbridge (020 7235 5000) priced from £3.75.