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Unveiling the Origins of Bubble Tea

In the vibrant world of culinary delights, few beverages have captured the hearts and taste buds of people around the globe quite like bubble tea. With its joyful tapioca pearls and refreshing flavours, bubble tea has become a beloved beverage enjoyed by millions. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this delightful drink? Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the captivating history of bubble tea.

Taiwan's Tea Culture

The story of bubble tea begins in the bustling tea shops of Taiwan during the 1980s. Taiwan has a rich tradition of tea culture, and the locals were known to take their tea seriously. Traditional tea houses were a common sight, offering a variety of teas, from oolong to green, served hot and accompanied by an array of snacks. However, it was the innovative spirit of a few individuals that would transform the landscape of Taiwanese beverage culture.

The Birth of Bubble Tea: An Accidental Creation!

The credit for the birth of bubble tea goes to Lin Hsiu Hui, an employee at the Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan. The story goes that in the early 1980s, the company's product development manager, Lin poured tapioca balls into her tea during a staff meeting and encouraged others to drink it. The beverage was well received by everyone at the meeting, leading to its inclusion on the menu. It ultimately became the franchise's top-selling product.

The result was a sensation that would take Taiwan by storm. In 2022 we visited Chun Shui Tang tea house to try the original bubble tea.

Pearl Milk Tea to Bubble Tea – and it’s not because of the boba!

Originally known as "pearl milk tea" due to the distinctive appearance of the tapioca pearls at the bottom of the cup, this innovative drink quickly gained popularity among locals. Its success prompted other tea shops to adopt similar creations. As the beverage spread across Taiwan, it earned the moniker "bubble tea" in reference to the frothy bubbles formed when the tea was shaken before serving. This is also a mark of quality. At TeaJoy we use real fruit in our syrups, when shaken becomes frothy many bubble tea use artificial flavouring and when shaken won’t go frothy!


The 1990s witnessed the global expansion of bubble tea, primarily Taiwanese immigrants and students brought their love for this unique beverage to various corners of the world, introducing new communities to its flavours and textures. As bubble tea crossed cultural boundaries, it also underwent various modifications to cater to different tastes. In Western countries, fruit bubble tea outsell traditional milk tea 3 to 1.

Innovation Knows No Bounds

One of the driving forces behind bubble tea's popularity is its adaptability. The basic formula of tea, milk, sweetener, and tapioca pearls has evolved to include a myriad of variations. Fruit flavours, non-dairy alternatives, toppings like jelly, aloe vera, boba and bubble tea cocktails. Follow our blogs for cocktail recipes!

Bubble Tea Today. A Cultural Icon

Fast forward to today, and bubble tea has become a cultural icon and fashion statement seen on the streets of Taipei, New York, London and Beijing. Sharing aesthetically pleasing photos of colourful bubble tea creations, sparking trends and drawing attention to both innovation and individuality. Tag us in your bubble teas @teajoy_drinks

Sip by Sip, a Sweet Legacy

As you take a sip of your favourite bubble tea, whether it's a classic traditional milk tea or a bubblicious boba combination, remember the journey that brought this delightful creation to your lips. From the tea gardens of Taiwan to the streets of cities around the world, bubble tea's origins are a testament to human creativity. So, raise your cup, savour the flavours, sip pop joy.

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