Bubbly Beginnings...

bubble tea stand in asia

Tea stands just like this can be found
throughout Asia.

Boba tea originated in the suburbs of Taiwan in the early 1980s. There are a couple of different stories of who pioneered it:

Some say the Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan had an employee named Liu Han Chie who liked to experiment with tea. He would often add fruit, syrup and tapioca balls to cold, milky tea. The drink was relatively underground and unknown, but when a Japanese tv show featured the drink, it's popularity soared.

The other, more popular version of the tea's origin says that Taiwanese shopkeepers would set up small tea stands in front of local schoolhouses so children could stop by for an after-school snack. One enterprising tea stand owner began flavoring the tea with different fruit syrups. Since the tea and flavoring needed to mix well, the cup would need to be shaken, creating bubbles at the surface of the drink, hence the name "bubble tea." Eventually, shopkeepers started adding ingredients like tapioca pearls, coconut jelly and other chewy treats to make them more enticing.

Whether it was the Japanese businessmen looking to drink something unique or the schoolchildren who liked to shoot the tapioca balls at each other, one thing is for sure - the textured treat took off!

Boba Tea in North America

In the last decade or so, the popularity of boba tea in North America has grown immensely. Initially, the drink could only be found in cities with a large Asian population, such as Toronto, Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Vancouver and Seattle. It soon became very popular with young adults and started popping up around large college campuses.

The drink's popularity is still on the rise, but with such a demand for it, even smaller cities now have shops serving bubble tea. To see if there are any restaurants in your area, try searching for "boba tea" or "bubble tea" along with your city name in Google. Another great way to find out if there are any nearby bubble tea shops is to inquire at any local asian restaurants you might dine at.

Who's drinking boba tea?

Some of Hollywood's hottest celebrities have joined in the boba tea trend. Check out the pictures below and see if you can spot your favorite star.

Lindsay Lohan enjoying her bubble tea A pregnant Alyson Hannigan grabbing a boba drink Lauren Conrad drinks bubble tea

From left to right: Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday, Mean Girls), Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Lauren Conrad (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, The Hills)