Also known as bubble tea, boba tea originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s and traditionally consists of either black, green or oolong tea as the base, water, sugar, and the option of adding milk — powdered, fresh, coconut, almond or soy — to create a milk tea variant. The key differentiator between bubble tea and more traditional tea beverages is the inclusion of small, chewy spheres of tapioca (referred to as boba) or balls of fruit juices and syrups that burst with flavor when chewed or squeezed (known as popping boba).
For added flavor, be sure to top your bubble tea with “jelly” — small, gelatin-like shapes that infuse subtle flavors such as mango, coffee, coconut or lychee into your beverage. Other common toppings include milk or cheese foam, or even fresh fruit, like strawberries, kiwis or watermelon. Most times, bubble tea is served with a cellophane lid adhered to the top of the cup, which allows you to shake the beverage first to infuse all of the flavors, before puncturing it with a thick straw that is perfect for enjoying the delicious, flavored bubbles at the bottom.