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The Ginger Tea Reviews: Boba Tea

Ask and you shall receive!

Boba-licious! ....Sorry. That was lame.

Hello, and welcome again to another wonderful tea review with the Ginger Tea Reviews! Tea is my passion, and I am making it my goal to share my passion with the world! 

So, I took a poll to see what you all would like me to review next. Boba tea won; something I am particularly excited about, as I absolutely love boba tea.

The biggest issue I ran into is that I have never made my own boba tea before. In this review, I did not try to make it myself; however, for a future review, I do plan to do my own attempt. Instead, this review will be about the history of boba, and how it became so popular today, plus a discussion of some of the better flavors.

A little back story: I first tried boba tea back in high school. A good friend of mine introduced it to me. I was so perplexed by the tapioca balls; it was such a weird and unique concept, and I found the flavor wasn't bad at all. Ever since, I have loved boba. It makes a perfect summer treat. Or, if you're from Florida, it makes a perfect sunny day treat. 

Today, I decided to try one of the local boba joints in my hometown: Q Cup Boba Tea. I happened to be assisting my grandmother, at the time, so I decided to introduce her to the delectable treat. 

Q Cup is a cute little restaurant located in Jacksonville, Florida. The atmosphere is light and relaxed. I did not have the chance to try any of their food items, but the menu ranges from Phở to Vietnamese sandwiches, all of which sounded amazing. One big aspect about a restaurant, for me, is how it smells. If the whole building smells like amazing food, I'm sold immediately. 

However, this is not a restaurant review, this is a tea review. So let's get right into it, shall we?

What is Boba Tea?

Taro Milk Tea and Honey Milk Tea

Boba tea (pearl, or bubble tea)  is a sweet Taiwanese tea beverage that was invented in Tainan and Taichung in the 80s. Typically, the drink combines milk, tea of varying flavors, and chewy tapioca balls. 

The drink was introduced in Taiwan, but it quickly took off all throughout South Asia. It is currently becoming more and more popular in European countries and in the US. 

There are a couple of varieties of boba tea. You can either go with a classic boba tea, with the milk and tapioca balls, or, alternatively, you can go with a fruitier option, in which fruit jellies (some of which are filled with fruit juice, so they literally explode flavor in your mouth) are used instead of the tapioca balls, and a fruitier tea is used instead with no milk. These drinks are also likely to have fresh fruit directly in the drinks as well. Both of these versions are delicious. 

The oldest version of boba tea is a mixture of hot Taiwanese Black tea, small tapioca pearls, condensed milk, and syrup or honey. However, as the drink grew more popular, larger pearls replaced the smaller ones, and it is now poured over ice instead of being served hot. One of the more popular boba teas use jasmine green tea instead of black tea. 

The Pearls...

Tasty, funny looking, tapioca pearls.

The most accredited origin story of boba tea, states that boba tea was started by Tu Tsong-he, in his Hanlin tea house, in Tainan, Taiwan. He was inspired by white tapioca balls, and decided to make tea using the white tapioca balls, because they looked like pearls. Shortly after, the white tapioca balls were replaced with the black ones, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

However, there is an alternative origin story. This one states that boba tea was originally created in the Chun Shui Tang Teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan. The owner, Liu Han-Chieh, decided to serve iced milk teas after noticing how the Japanese were selling iced coffee. It was Lin Hsiu Hui, the teahouse's product development manager, who came up with the concept of using tapioca balls in the teas, during a meeting in 1988. Supposedly, he poured sweetened pudding over tapioca balls, then combined it with the tea. It was such a hit, the franchise added it to the menu, and so forth and so on.

We can not be sure or either story. However, what we do know is that the tapioca balls are what make boba tea so unique. Tapioca balls are made of tapioca (obviously), which comes from the bitter cassava plant.

Flavor-wise, the dark tapioca balls are mildly sweet and delightfully chewy. The consistency reminds me, actually, of gummy candies. The black pearls are made of the aforementioned cassava plant, caramel, and brown sugar. The white pearls, however, are the originals. White tapioca balls are not as sweet and are made in the exact same way, only minus the brown sugar. The only major difference between either, apart from the mild difference in flavor, is the color.

Let's talk flavors...

Another snapshot of the tasty beverages...

So, from Q Cup, I chose to get the Taro flavor. The flavoring comes from the taro root, which has a nutty and complex flavor. Honestly, it is my most preferred version of boba tea. The milk compliments the flavors of the taro so beautifully. 

Grandma got the Honey Milk flavor, which is about as simple as it sounds. Honey and milk is combined with a mild flavored tea and the tapioca pearls. This is a relaxing and smooth flavored drink, and perfect for boba newbies.

Health-wise, the teas are not top-notch. Generally, boba teas are high-calorie and high-fat drinks. While you are getting the health benefits from the teas, themselves, the milk and tapioca pearls are generally higher in calories, and can be dangerous for diabetics if they drink too much. If you want something healthier, it is recommended to cut the pearls and the milk from the drink. But then, it can't really be called "boba tea" then can it?

All in all, boba tea is a unique and fun treat, especially for summer time and sunny days. While not the healthiest tea option, there's nothing wrong with indulging once in a while.

Thanks again for joining me for this fun review! I hope you all enjoyed! Please be sure to stick around for more fun and exciting reviews in the future! Remember, there is a great big world of tea out there, and together we can explore every last inch of it!!

- Ginger

P.S.

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