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bubble tea drink

Bobalicious Fun Facts: Your Guide to Bubble Tea History

If you are looking to elevate your foodie knowledge, take your time to learn about the tea-rific history of bubble tea. From its humble beginnings as a summer refreshment until it’s now pop food culture success, you don’t need to hit the history books for this one. All you have to do is keep reading.

This guide is your crash course to all things bubble tea. We’ll trace its prominence from its humble Asian roots until it made its way to Canada. The main goal here is to make you more knowledgeable about bubble tea’s development as a beloved drink. This knowledge will also help you better appreciate your bubble tea down to its last boba.

Bubble Tea Asian Origins

Bubble tea first came to be in the late 1980s in Taipei, Taiwan. There were already many tea spots and snack stalls at this point, so it was easy to mix and match different ingredients. One day in an unknown drink stall, someone boldly infused different summer treats together to come up with the first bubble tea.

Bubble tea is a lovechild of common Taiwanese desserts. Tapioca balls or pearls, as we know them today, were placed at the bottom. This is then followed by a layer of shaved ice commonly topped with fruits or syrups in other Asian countries. Then, a combination of milk and tea is added to complete the drink. To this day, nobody knows who the genuine inventor of bubble tea was, but it nonetheless sparked a sort of tea renaissance.

Different unnamed tea stalls and big food businesses alike were beholden to bubble tea. They wanted to make it their own. This was when people started using fresh fruit or fruit concentrated powders to infuse with bubble tea. There were also various topping options, such as grass or almond jelly, egg pudding, and even red beans. As the trend caught on, different bubble tea flavours were born.

This was the start of bubble tea’s sweet victory as neighbouring Asian countries like the Philippines and Thailand started to love bubble tea and make it their own. Eventually, it caught on with other countries outside Asia, like in the United States.

The Bubble Tea Craze in the U.S.

As a multicultural melting pot like Canada and the United Kingdom, the United States was an ideal success story for the bubble tea industry. This is due to the many Asian migrants setting their eyes on the American Dream. Additionally, the prominence of night markets in multicultural food hubs like Los Angeles gave bubble tea the spotlight it needed.

During the 1990s, night markets and food stalls were the first to have bubble tea on their menus, and it was easy for many Asian restaurants looking to expand their offerings to adopt the drink. The sweet and interesting blend caught the attention of many Americans, especially among the younger generation and during the summer season. Bubble tea’s success is synonymous with the Frappuccino craze from Starbucks. But the difference is every little stall to giant restaurant chain have their own twist.

There was a decline in the bubble tea trend for a while, but then it became a foodie mainstay once the crowd grew to love the drink again. Some say this is due to the addition of refreshing coconut water jelly and other tropical infusions that have kept a generation of Americans coming back for more.

The Great White North’s Love for Bubble Tea

Due to Canada’s inclusive culture for different migrants, it was natural that bubble tea would become a favourite. However, it was only in 2015 when Metro Vancouver began to see bubble tea businesses dominate the foodie scene. But the craze didn’t stop there, as it expanded to other major cities and towns.

As many Asian restaurants with home-cooked and authentic flavours came in, bubble tea became a welcome addition to the menu. Most locals have the drink as a dessert after enjoying a bowl of Pad Thai or other Asian classics. Even if on relatively cooler days, many Canadians today enjoy bubble tea simply because its taste is uniquely sweet and refreshing.


Now that you have a historical background about bubble tea, visit your local restaurant today and enjoy each sip!

Are you looking for the best bubble tea in Edmonton? Take your foodie trip to Asia with us at Rice Bowl Deluxe. We can provide you with a full range of Asian rice bowl favourites and refreshing bubble tea flavours. Dine-in with us today! 

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