classic milk tea
14 July, 2020 | Bon Tea Cafe Updated 2021

Classic Milk Tea and Things That Make it Special

Classic milk tea can be seen as the granddaddy of all boba drinks. The time to start consuming healthier foods is now. With the scientific improvements of the 21st-century, people have begun to be more conscious of their choices. This does not mean that classic milk tea is the healthiest drink around, but it sure is better than the chemical mixes everyone is so used to nowadays. Sure, soda is tasty and can be consumed with meals, but nothing can beat the refreshing taste of boba tea on a hot summer day. 

It may take you minutes to chuck down a cup of milk tea, but this does not give you the time to reflect on its origins. Classic milk tea is what started it all, and inevitably finds its roots deep in Taiwanese and Chinese cultures. The point of this article is to familiarize you with the fundamentals of classic milk tea, and give you something to think about when you enter tea shops to grab one. So grab a cup of chilled boba tea and hope on for a trip through time!

Milky history

The history of classic milk tea and its culture can be traced back to the 80s. Most die-hard boba fans claim that the beverage originated in Taipei, but other cities like to lay claim to the invention. Classic milk tea has long been loved in Taiwan, because drinking organic tea had grown very popular in East Asia for years before and after its invention. Before the boba tea goodness of ice and tapioca balls were mixed to create the beverage loved today, tapioca balls and shaved ice were typical desserts. How in the world did someone randomly create bubble tea? One hot summer day, a genius bloke decided to mix these popular flavors into a single drink. He got tapioca balls on the bottom of the cup, which was layered by shaved ice topped off with milk tea. 

The evolution of classic milk tea

classic milk tea

As time passed on, people started calling the tea boba. The word is a slang that refers to the breast in Chinese, taken from the shape of the tapioca balls. This does not, however, mean that the word is offensive to use. It has been widely accepted throughout the world. Over time the beverage evolved significantly and became very popular all over Taiwan. Some stall owners started adding fruit boba to their inventories. They opted with fruit-flavored syrups and powders instead of real fruit. Going artificial was the fact that real fruit tended to go bad quickly and more expensive to buy and craft. 

As more modern flavors started to become more popular, endless amounts of toppings were added. Almond jelly, red beans, egg pudding, and grass jelly started to find their way into the toppings list for many boba tea enthusiasts. Even the classic milk tea swapped its milk for non-dairy creamers due to its shelf-stability. As a result of this, bubble tea adopted the now widely loved creamy and sweet taste. Even standard coffee places started to add boba teas to their offerings due to the high demand for the drink.  

How to make the drink

Classic milk tea is not all that hard to prepare at home. The only challenge you will face is developing the tapioca balls. If you find it hard to head down to your local specialty coffee shop or a boba tea cafe, you can make it right in your home. The best part is, you can make it in any flavor you like! Coming back to the QQ balls (tapioca), you can find them being sold dry. Preparing them requires you to boil them for 30 minutes and cool them for another 30 more. 

taste your favorite beverages

If you make the QQ too squishy, you will end up with a boba tea filled with mushed QQ that sticks together. But, if you make them too hard, you will end up with tapiocas near impossible to chew. Considering that boba is all about the beloved texture of QQ, perfecting tapioca boiling art is essential. Hey, even the phrase “QQ,” which in Chinese refers to the perfect consistency of the balls, meaning very chewy. 

After you have tackled the QQ preparation process, you will be left to your imagination to top things off to the preparation process of classic milk tea. After you add a scoop of tapioca balls, you can either choose the classic black milk tea route, or go with juice. In the end, you need to add a ton of ice (or to your liking) to finish up preparing your cup of tasty boba. As you become better with whipping up a cup of classic milk tea, you can start to work on tastes like classic pearl milk tea and classic black milk tea. You can never be bored with discovering and experimenting with new flavors.

Modern-day boba tea

Nowadays, there are lots of boba tea cafes popping up around the world. Even if you do not have a boba cafe in your city, many organic coffee shops are starting to serve the refreshing beverage. Since you cannot just keep a cup of boba tea lying around for more than a day, many methods were made to allow the mass sale of bubble tea. Individual ribbed plastic cups alongside wide straws that will enable tapioca balls to get through and seals to stab the straws through and preserve the drink were made as the demand for the drink grew. Sealing machines made explicitly to seal bubble tea cups automatically sped up the process significantly. 

milk tea in la

Most modern-day bubble tea chains have tea and syrup dispensers on standby. Through such conveniences, the specific demands of the customers can be met with ease. You can quickly request your preferred level of sweetness and flavor in every cup. The drink has grown so popular; in fact, you can find them sealed and ready in most stores in areas with demand. 

The cultural impact

In Taiwan and other East Asia night markets, boba tea has become the go-to choice for tourists and natives. The nightlife in Taiwan houses hundreds of food stalls that everyone gathers around after work to eat and snack. Different food trends may have come and left, but boba tea seems to have remained. As a tourist, if you visit Taiwan and walk around the food stalls, you can see someone carrying at least one version of the drink. 

Around the 90s was when boba started to become very popular in the United States. It was a trend that followed the Taiwanese people who migrated to the US. The direction cemented itself with the mass growth of the cafe culture in America, thanks to joins like Starbucks. It was the convenience of picking up services provided by cafes like Starbucks, which fueled the jet, which boosted boba tea to fame in the US. 


Classic milk tea is undoubtedly here to stay. As time progresses, you will be sure to see an absurd amount of different flavors hit the market, adding to the already endless amounts available. The next time you go to pick up a cup of boba, be sure to remember its illustrious history, and growing cultural impact, it should make it more enjoyable to drink! So go ahead or order your drink now!