Available at a selection of cafés and restaurants in Southside, bubble tea is a much-loved drink in East Asia, but what is it and why is it so popular?

Invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, the tea-based drink is made up of a variation of toppings and served in a cup with a wide straw. Also known as ‘boba tea’ in the US, the base of the drinks range from tea, fruit, coffee or milk – depending on your personal preference.

One of the main features of bubble tea is the topping, so whether you’re opting for traditional tapioca, fruit jelly, popping pearls, grass jelly or even aloe vera jelly, you can create a seemingly endless array of flavour combinations, which can be served hot or cold.

Popular with younger consumers, the drinks are fun, delicious, convenient, and often part of a social occasion. It’s no wonder that the craze for bubble tea has swept across Asia and since found international popularity with plenty of options right here in Southside.

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Bubble tea is usually made with evaporated or condensed milk, and the most popular flavour combination is milk bubble tea with chewy tapioca pearls. The Huffington Post notes that tapioca (also known as yuca) is derived from a plant called the cassava root, which is renowned for its ‘culinary versatility’ and ‘ability to grow in low-nutrient soils and harvest quickly’. The cassava root is combined with brown sugar and water to create a sweet taste sensation.

Find bubble tea at Happy Lemon on 22 Hurst Street, Mr Egg on 20 Hurst Street, Caffé Chino at Unit B107 and Hey Sugar at Unit B103 on Cathay Street in The Arcadian.