Bubble Tea

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

bubble tea is a popular cassava-based beverage believed to have been created, or at least touted, in the early 1980s by Taiwanese entrepreneurs Liu Han Chieh, Tu Tsong-He, and/or Lin Hsui Hui. The tea relies on the starch of Manihot esculenta, which had been introduced to Taiwan from Java and the Philippines. See cassava. To make bubble tea, this tuber is cut, dried, ground, and mixed with similarly prepared sweet potato and brown sugar and shaped into balls that resemble tapioca but are larger. See tapioca. The balls are boiled for about an hour, after which they turn black, gelatinous, and somewhat translucent; they are then cooled in water. They can also be made in various other colors by means of certain proprietary processes.