Bubble Tea (aka Pearl Milk Tea or Boba) is a drink invented in Taiwan in the1980s. Recipes contain tea mixed with fruit or milk. Ice-blended versions are mixed with fruit or syrup. Most come with chewy tapioca balls (粉圓, fěnyuán), commonly called “pearls” (珍珠, zhēnzhū) or boba (波霸). The oldest known bubble tea consisted of a mix of hot Taiwanese black tea, small tapioca pearls (粉圓), condensed milk, and syrup (糖漿) or honey. Many variations were created, the most common are now served cold. First was jasmine-infused green tea (茉香綠茶) instead of black tea. Big tapioca pearls (波霸/黑珍珠) were adapted and quickly replaced the small pearls. Peach or plum flavoring appeared, then more fruit flavors were added until, in some variations, the tea was removed entirely in favor of real fruit.
Different types of black tea, green tea, or even coffee form the basis. The most common black tea varieties are Oolong and Earl Grey, while jasmine green tea is a mainstay as well. Another variation called yuanyang (鴛鴦, named after the Mandarin duck) originated in Hong Kong and consists of half black tea and half coffee. Some add milk. Different flavorings can be added such as: strawberry, green apple, passion fruit, mango, lemon, watermelon, grape, lychee, peach, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, banana, avocado, coconut, kiwi, jackfruit. Other popular flavors are taro, pudding, chocolate, coffee, mocha, barley, sesame, almond, ginger, lavender, rose, caramel, and violet. Tapioca balls are the prevailing chewy tidbits in bubble tea. Green pearls have a hint of green tea flavor. Jelly is also used in small cubes, stars, or strips, with flavors such as coconut jelly, konjac, lychee, grass, mango, and green tea.