Bubble tea a sweet treat

There are many ways to make bubble tea. Pictured is a green tea with mango flavoring and mango popping pearls. PHOTO/CHEYANNE KRAMER

OU News Bureau

A drink with tapioca pearls served over ice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But to many around the world, bubble tea is a delicious treat found at cafes worldwide.

Bubble tea began in the 1980s in Taiwan, where street vendors would compete to sell the best teas. Many experimented by adding fruit flavors. In 1983, a vendor added tapioca balls into iced fruit teas and created what is now known as bubble tea.

Tammy Leung is the co-owner of Blossom Café and Bakery in Auburn Hills. The café is just over a year old, and has proven to be a popular hang-out spot, with snacks selling out throughout the day.

“I have family in Toronto, and every corner has a bubble tea place,” Leung said. “I grew up in Troy, and it just doesn’t have any good places like this.”

Tammy Leung

She started her café after college, following her passion for baking. She’s self-taught, and once she decided she would open her own shop, she asked her cousin-in-law Elizabeth Leung to join the venture.

“The spectrum of customers is wide,” Leung said. “It is an Asian drink so lots of our customers are Asian, but I’d say it’s really half-and-half. There’s all different people, but they’re usually younger.”

Part of what makes bubble tea an appealing drink for young people is the social element. At Blossom, there are board games and card games that visitors can borrow while they enjoy their tea and desserts.

Chiaoning Su, a public relations professor at Oakland University, was born in Taiwan, and grew up with bubble tea as a part of her life.

“Bubble tea isn’t expensive, “ Su said. “You can stay at a bubble tea shop there for hours and chat and gossip with friends after school.”

Many of the baked goods sell out throughout the day. PHOTO/CHEYANNE KRAMER

“It is very mainstream,” Su said. “Different chains compete for loyal customers. it’s a very popular and big phenomenon If you go to Taiwan, it’ll be rare to hear someone say they haven’t had bubble tea.”

Su thinks part of the reason that bubble tea could appeal to Americans is because of the fruit flavors and the sweetness. In addition, there’s a novel element to bubble tea — customers swallow the pearls through a thick straw.

At Blossom, there are more than just tapioca pearls. Tea drinkers can add popping pearls, which are smaller balls that contain fruit juice, or fruit jellies, which are shaped and flavored with fruits.

“We try to cater to traditional tea drinkers and the newer, more modern side of bubble tea,” Leung said, suggesting that the most authentic bubble tea experience comes from black milk tea with tapioca bubbles.

“But it is a tea,” she said. “If you don’t like how tea tastes, try a smoothie with the bubbles.”


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Posted by on Apr 17 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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