Bubble tea, boba tea, or simply “boba” — it’s a taste sensation that swept the nation in a tapioca-infused frenzy over the past few years. It’s only been sold en masse in the UK for a short time, yet it’s one of the most popular takeaway drinks on the market.
You might already know what it is, what it looks like and how it tastes, but we’ll be covering the basics of bubble tea, why it’s so popular and how to serve it with sustainability in mind.
What Is Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea is a drink made using tea, milk, ice and tapioca. It’s recently risen to popularity in the UK, but it’s been a favourite in Asian countries like Taiwan — where it originated — since the 1980s.
Boba tea, “boba” or pearl milk tea can be made in numerous ways to incorporate different flavours, making it an exciting beverage for consumers looking for something a bit different to their usual takeaway drink.
What Are the Bubbles in Bubble Tea
Bubble tea gets its name from the small spheres added to the drink — these are tapioca pearls. Typically dark in colour, although sometimes white or clear, they’re perfectly safe to eat and make the drink all the more interesting and flavoursome. They have a chewy consistency and range greatly in flavour.
Another reason for its name relates to the bubbles and froth that form on the surface of the tea when the drink is shaken — as is customary when serving boba.
Bubble tea is served in transparent cups with a large straw so that you get to enjoy the tasty tapioca balls as you drink. The pearls soak up the flavouring of your beverage, giving the bubble tea an intense taste of honeydew, lychee, mango, passion fruit, peach, plum or strawberry — whatever you fancy!
What Do You Need to Make Bubble Tea?
You must purchase a transparent cup for bubble tea so you can show off those flavoured pearls and ombre designs for the experts amongst us. That’s why bubble tea cups are commonly made from plastic. To avoid an environmental nightmare, we sell transparent cups without the use of plastic. They look and feel like plastic but are instead made from natural resources.
Note, as these are designed to be takeout cups, they aren’t reusable yet are still a perfect alternative to plastic cups.
You’ve guessed it — our straws are also biodegradable to help you build an environmental bubble tea package.
Want to create branded bubble tea cups? Check out our work.
How to Drink Bubble Tea
You can order bubble tea hot and cold — chilled bubble tea is by far the most popular.
If you opt for chilled bubble tea, the drink can be shaken or blended, much like an iced coffee. Like coffee, you should choose blended if you want a thicker consistency equivalent to a frappe. Most people will choose shaken as this is the authentic way to serve bubble tea. Remember, shaken bubble tea gives the drink its famous frothy bubbles and the tapioca pearls.
Bubble tea should be served with a wide drinking straw so you can suck the pearls through the straw. So long as you’ve been served bubble tea in the right way, you should be able to enjoy your experience by doing the following:
- Shake your drink — If your bubble tea is pre-packaged with a sealed lid, shake the contents to create that classic foam effect. Fresh bubble tea is often served in transparent cups.
- Stir with your straw — Continually stir the drink using your straw in between sips. This encourages the boba to rise from the bottom of the cup — you don’t want it all getting stuck at the bottom!
- Enjoy! — The joy of bubble tea is in the experience. Relax, sip away and savour the incredible flavours the tapioca pearls have to offer.
Where to Drink Bubble Tea (In the UK)
In Asia, where bubble tea originated, bubble tea stands are a regular sight. You can pick up bubble tea at a local market or small town, but bubble tea is a little more scarce in the UK. You’ll likely need to visit a large city to enjoy your favourite cup of bubble tea. We’ve compiled a list of bubble tea locations to help you find your boba fix.
Biju Bubble Tea — Soho, Westfield, South Kensington, Camden
Biju Bubble Tea is a London-based bubble tea brand. Biju has four locations so far in very different areas of the UK’s capital. Its refined branding and simple menu appeal to many city-goers looking for a refreshing break.
You can choose from a small selection of fruit teas, milk teas and toppings, including signature biodegradable cups such as Matcha Milk Tea and Iced Honey Green Tea.
Bubbleology — London, Essex, Kent, Leeds, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford
If you’re a bubble tea fan, you might have already heard of Bubbleology. They have a huge following, with over 69 sites across the UK, Europe and the USA. Bubbleology has a loyalty card system and several standalone shops. Bubbleology has broken the mould by even offering alcohol-infused cocktail bubble teas and fruit and milk-based originals. Paired with their bubble waffle offering, you can snack on an indulgent sweet treat while slurping on your favourite bubble tea.
Cuppacha — Soho, Sheffield
Despite Cuppacha’s selective locations, they’re a real hit with locals. The Golden Chopstick Awards recognised their bubble tea in 2019 and you can get it delivered right to your door via Deliveroo. Select from insta-worthy decadent Oreo milk teas and signature ombre drinks. Snap a pic of your bubble tea and tag them on Instagram.
Bobo Tea — Manchester, Sheffield
Bobo Tea also pairs its bubble tea with waffles and frozen yoghurt with an extensive menu. You can find the Manchester branch in the upper mall of Manchester Arndale shopping centre. Transport yourself to the streets of Taiwan with authentic flavours such as coconut, red bean and jasmine — or sweeter dessert flavours like cookies ‘n’ cream or chocolate.
Bubble Tea: The Disposable Cup Low-Down
Bubble tea has been rising in popularity since 2011. As the bubble tea market continually expands, you might as well get on side with eco-conscious consumers. In fact, 85% of consumers have become more eco-conscious in their purchasing habits in recent years.
Bubble tea tastes that little bit nicer when your cups are biodegradable. It’s worth investing in our range of sustainable branded takeaway packaging to drive sales, encourage repeat purchases and solidify your brand’s reputation. Need convincing? Just check out our blog on the importance of branding in packaging.