It’s summer time and that means many of us are craving a large cup of ice-cold bubble tea (aka boba tea) with chewy tapioca balls. While most of us have had this Taiwanese drink before, we probably don’t know who the original inventor of this refreshing cup of yumminess is.
Meet Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui, who says that her bubble tea invention came about when she was attending a meeting in 1998. During her meeting, she decided it would be fun to pour the fen yuan, a sweetened tapioca pudding, into her iced tea and drink it. At the time, Lin was the product development manager for Taiwanese tea house, Chun Shui Tang.
“Everyone at the meeting loved the drink and it quickly outsold all of our other iced teas within a couple of months. Even after 20 years on the menu, bubble tea makes up 80 to 90 percent of our sales and Taiwanese are proud of this home-grown drink,” says Lin.
Although the boba craze has spread internationally, Chun Shui Tang, where Lin continues to work at, aims to distinguish itself from other shops. What sets them apart is that their bubble teas are customized to the customer’s taste and are usually shaken, not blended. Each drink is then measured with a refractometer, a device used to measure solution concentrations, to ensure that the level of sweetness is up to par with each individual customer.
I’m totally craving some bubble tea now. My personal favorite? Almond milk tea with extra tapioca!