Let’s talk about one of my favorites: Milk tea! This is usually my go-to when I’m stressed or when I want something that’s equally refreshing and filling. My usual flavor favorites are either Taro or Brown Sugar. Both go really well with pearls or tapioca, but I sometimes pair it with egg pudding. Bubble milk tea usually comes in different flavors and you can choose your own combinations of add-ons or sinkers. Before we go any deeper, let’s talk about where it came from.
Bubble milk tea in the Philippines
The bubble milk tea was introduced to the Philippines in 2008. A couple who lived in Taiwan and opened the first SereniTea in Little Baguio, San Juan. This drink has three core elements: Tea, Milk, and Tapioca. Tapioca is those almost-black, caramelized balls of starch that come as a common add-on to milk tea.
Throughout 2008 and 2009, new stores opened up here and there. It was a steady pace. Plenty of stalls and stores started opening near universities, some with witty names. Milk tea shops started to compete with coffee shops as the hip go-to place.
But the explosion happened in 2010, Chris Tiu franchised a Happy Lemon stall straight from Taiwan. The new craze was their rock salt and cream cheese. The new flavors on top of milk tea added an interesting flavor. This was when the popularity of milk tea really shot up.
Origins and Conception
There’s a lot of debate as to who really started the trend in Taiwan. Research dates it to have started only around the 1980s by a small tea stand. In order to be able to provide something new and attract more people to their stall instead of the others.
Tapioca has always been a common topping to flavored shaved ice in Taiwan. By adding different flavors to the tea, with the added gimmick and chewiness of the Tapioca, the result was a delicious and enjoyable drink.
There are two tea houses in Taiwan that have claimed to have been the first ones to create the bubble milk tea drink. This is up to much debate since it could have been from smaller stalls as well and cannot be verified. It can also be said that they are both correct. They could be the first to develop the drink in their respective areas with Chun Shui Tang tea house in Taichung, and Hanlin tea house in Tainan.
Admittedly, when the popularity of bubble milk tea was rapidly increasing, I thought that it would only be a fad. That it would die down in a couple of years. It didn’t feel like something that would stick, even when I did indulge in a glass a day at one point. From 2009 to the present, there are still new brands and stalls popping up every now and then. I’m pretty sure it won’t die down anytime soon.