Boba Tea or Bubble Tea; That is the Question
So here we are on the west coast of the United States, at least some of us are. We are seeing Bobo Tea shops popping up all over the place. Apparently on the east coast of the US Bubble Tea shops are popping up all over the place. Is there a difference? The answer is NO. It is terminology based on region. Both have tapioca balls at the bottom of the tea glass. Both are iced tea drinks.
Why tapioca balls and what is tapioca anyway? First of all, the tapioca balls served in tea is an invention from Taiwan back in the 1980’s. At that time it was a reference to the bubbles formed from shaking the tea with milk not the tapioca balls at the bottom. Fast forward to today and it refers to the balls of tapioca at the bottom of the glass. Probably because they are round and could be described as looking like bubbles.
And just what is tapioca? For some of us we know tapioca pudding and love it or hate it. Served to us as kids back in the 60’s we may still have a taste for it as adults. It is made from the root of the cassava plant, a starchy root that contains cyanide. So, you really do not want to be trying to make tapioca from the source. Here in California we know the cassava plant as yucca.
In addition to the names Boba and Bubble Tea you may hear it referred to as Pearl Milk Tea, Milk Tea, Pearl Tea, or Tapioca Tea.
They are all the same with the exception of the different flavors of the tea or the tapioca ball.