Visiting a Bubble Tea ‘Creator’ in Taiwan
Who likes a good bubble tea, also called pearl milk tea or boba?
I love it. It is such a heavenly feeling on a hot summer day (alright, even on a cold winter day) to hold the cup, pinch a hole on the seal with the provided straw and take a few sips of the iced milk tea concoction with tapioca balls.
It is Taiwan’s gift to the world and a few years ago during a brief trip to Taipei I managed to go to one of the ‘sources’ of this wonder.
The Origins of Bubble Tea
First, a little about the bubble tea.
According to this report on CNN, in the forties, a Taiwanese mixologist called Chang Fan Shu created an iced tea made in a cocktail shaker which yielded, among other fine tastes and textures, bubbles.
But the real story began in the eighties and there are at least two stories related to the origins of the bubble tea.
According to one story, the owner of the famed Hanlin Tea Room, Tu Zonghe (also written as Tu Tsong-He) created the first bubble tea in 1986.
The second story puts that ‘inventor’ status on Liu Hanjie (also written as Liu Han-Chieh) of the Chun Shui Tang tea house. As the story goes, Mr Liu got the idea of the bubble tea after watching coffee being served cold during a visit to Japan in the eighties.
The battle for the esteemed inventor status even went to the court though after ten years of legal battles, the court, in 2019, determined that the bubble tea belongs to anyone who can make it.
My Visit to the Chun Shui Tang Tea House
During my short stay in Taipei, I was determined to taste the bubble tea from at least one of its source joints. Fortunately for me, there was a Chun Shui Tang branch at the Taipei Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store building which was about a kilometer away from where I was staying so one day I just walked there. They also served food but my main focus was to taste the famous pearl milk tea.
Chun Shui Tang certainly deserves the reputation they have. The ingredients were fresh and while it is not a refreshing drink in the traditional sense because any drink of this nature tends to be on the heavy-on-the-tummy side, it did sate my hunger for a fantastic tasting bubble tea.
Here is the Thai Milk Tea based bubble tea I had this weekend.
BTW, bubble tea can also be had warm.