It became a hit from the start in Taiwan and has migrated over to the United States at a surprisingly fast rate. People rave about the sensation that overwhelms them during the entire duration of consuming the drink. Oh, how I do love you bubble tea, or, I’ve heard recently, “boba”. There is no point in arguing about what people call it due to the amount of goodness that is packed into that one drink –tapioca bubbles on the bottom with a mixture of delicious milk tea– we are addicts all the same. There are so many methods of drinking it: whether you try and drink all of the tea first and save the bubbles, want to eat the bubbles located on the bottom first and drink the tea afterwards, or just want to simultaneously eat and drink (this is what I usually do). Warning: Drinking bubble tea in excess may cause you to feel nauseous.
Bubble tea, “nai cha” in Mandarin, originated in Taiwan when a family visited Japan and witnessed people drinking tea cold. The family had been experimenting with tapioca to make pudding. The combination of the cold tea and tapioca would eventually lead to the creation of milk tea. My first experience with bubble tea was during a trip to Taiwan at about 5 years old. I did not really know what to expect at first, but when I had my first few sips I became so thrilled with the taste. The rush of chilled milk-tea perfection down my throat in what felt like 120 degree weather (the humidity is absolutely unbearable which causes the most uncomfortable feeling) placated my irritated body instantly. At that young of an age, I knew that milk tea became an instant hit because of the high temperatures that people experienced around all of Asia.
I identified the first bubble tea store around my neighborhood during the 5th grade. I would beg my mom to bring me over to the store, but should would always insist that I would have to wait until I go back to Taiwan and have traditional bubble tea there. There really is no substitute for a perfect cup of bubble tea in Taiwan, trust me. It has been quite some time since I have been back to Taiwan and visited my extended family, however; I do think about it often, especially when bubble tea comes to mind. The 18-hour plane right might give me a headache, jet lag, and sick, but bubble tea will always be there waiting for me.
Recently, a new bubble tea joint in State College opened up at 124 McAllister Alley named Tea Talk. I tried it recently and felt that I should give my honest opinion of the regular milk bubble tea that I had. It was pretty good considering that we are in the middle of Pennsylvania and it is nearly impossible to find a bubble tea place near Penn State. Some of the bubbles were a little dry, the milk tea was not too watered down, and the flavor was pretty spot-on. I would recommend other students and faculty to give it a try. Milk tea is not for everyone though…