Originating in Taiwan in the 80s, bubble tea (aka pearl milk tea or boba milk tea) draws from traditional Taiwanese tea culture and is a fusion of different flavours and textures.
Traditionally sold by street vendors, bubble tea mainly comes in two types – milk teas and fruit-flavoured teas, while tapioca pearls are added to the tea base to give the drink its distinctive “chewy bits.”
Bubble tea haven, Chatime, has been producing its signature iced tea drinks for more than 12 years. The owners focus on keeping all of their drinks consistent across their 1000 plus stores across the globe, so you’re guaranteed to try a bubble tea with a true authentic Taiwanese taste.
And what makes Chatime’s drinks so great to slurp? They are all freshly made to order and are hand-shaken for about 15 seconds by staff to create bubbles that adds to the texture and flavour of the tea.
Sip on one of Chatime’s famed hand-shaken iced teas. These eight drinks are some of their most popular.
Chatime’s drinks are freshly made to order and are hand-shaken for about 15 seconds to create bubbles that adds to the texture and flavour of the tea.
This drink is Chatime’s number one seller. It is made from their Sun Moon Lake tea base, milk and hand-shaken with sugar and ice. Chewy tapioca pearls are combined with the drink to add texture.
This drink is made from matcha powder, which is finely ground green tea leaves that are grown in Japan. Chatime’s powder comes from Uji, which is a place in Japan that is very famous for producing matcha. The powder is mixed with water and combined with red beans that have been cooked with sugar. Matcha powder is a unique balance of bitter, vegetal (think seaweed or edamame) and malty flavours, while the red beans add a sweetness to the drink
This drink is made with a base of Sun Moon Lake, milk, dehydrated taro powder and cream. It is then hand-shaken with sugar and ice. The drink has bits of taro in it that adds texture. The taro is sweet with a nutty, creamy and rich flavour.
Each drink at Chatime is fully customised by you. Here’s how to order your very own favourite tea.
There’s a huge number of different drinks to choose from. Select your favourite, or if you’re an indecisive type, choose one of the store’s recommended flavour blends that are numbered on the board. Then choose your cup size. It is an extra 50c for large.
Choose if you want your drink cold or hot. There is a red flame on the menu if your drink can be served hot. You then choose the sweetness level and how much ice you’ll want. The sugar level comes with no sugar, 30%, 50%, 80%, normal or extra sugar. While you can choose your ice level to be no ice, less ice, normal ice or extra ice.
Add toppings to add flavour and texture to your drink. You can choose from add-ons like grass jelly, red bean, grape jelly, lychee jelly, rainbow jelly, coffee jelly, aloe vera jelly, fig jelly and creme brulee.
Wait as your customised drink is made fresh in front of you. Then grab a straw and sip away.
“That’s why it’s called bubble tea,” Sunnybank’s operations manager Galee Li said. “Most people think that it’s the pearls which is the reason behind the name, but it’s actually the bubbles that get created when we hand-shake it.”
She said hand-shaking the tea allows oxygen to pass through the whole drink, which makes the tea taste more mellow and less bitter.
While Chatime’s most popular drink is the classic milk tea with pearls, the store also creates a vast range of drinks including matcha red bean, taro milk tea, grapefruit green tea, as well as other drinks like frappes, hot or iced coffee and more.
The drinks are also fully customisable, so customers can choose their drink’s sweetness and ice level to their taste preference. If you want to try something other than tapioca pearls, a wide range of toppings can also be added to create texture to the drink. Choose between the likes of grass jelly, red bean, grape jelly, lychee jelly, rainbow jelly, coffee jelly, aloe vera jelly, fig jelly and creme brulee.
Their tea bases are made from tea leaves and come in different kinds. Try their traditional Puyu Taiwanese black tea, or order their jasmine green tea, roasted tea, brown rice green tea, oolong green tea or their blue mountain green tea. Our pick? We love their Sun Moon Lake tea, which is the base to all their milk teas and comes from a very famous tea region in Taiwan.
The most popular cuisine of Taiwan
Braised pork rice
The culinary philosophy in Taiwan is to eat often and eat well. In the capital, Taipei, there are about 20 long streets dedicated to just food. Due to its geographic location – just a few hundred kilometres from the Chinese coast – Taiwanese food has a mash-up of different cuisines from mid to southern provinces of China, but most notably from the Min Nan, Teochew and Hokkien Chinese communities. Japanese food influence also exists from the 50 year period when Taiwan was under Japanese rule, and many Japanese cooking techniques are used. Pork, seafood, chicken, rice, and soy are very common ingredients. Beef is far less common, and some Taiwanese still refrain from eating it. Taiwan also produces a huge variety of vegetables and tropical fruits. Living on a crowded mountainous island, the Taiwanese had to look away from farms for sources of protein, and as a result, seafood is prominently used and is plentiful and very fresh. In many of their dishes, the Taiwanese have shown their creativity in their selection of spices and rely on an abundant array of seasonings for flavour. Along with flavour, Taiwanese people love texture. They especially crave the “QQ” food texture, which is a phrase that refers to something that is especially chewy, like tapioca balls in bubble tea.