The History Behind Bubble Tea and How It Became So Popular


Kathy Wong, Staff Writer

Bubble tea, also known as boba, is a popular drink consisting of tapioca pearls combined with sweet tea. This drink first originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Liu Han Chieh claimed to have invented it while experimenting with a tea that was both unique and diverse. Boba grew in popularity in the 1990s and later spread throughout East and Southeast Asia. As more and more people started drinking this beverage, it became known worldwide and many boba shops began to open.

There are now many selections for boba, ranging from fruit teas to cheese foam to smoothies. What if you don’t like boba or would like to add some extra toppings? The most common alternatives that you can choose from are pudding, grass jelly, lychee jelly, rainbow jelly, agar boba, brown sugar boba, and honey boba. 

The most loved among customers are taro, strawberry, classic milk tea, Thai tea, matcha milk tea, brown sugar milk tea, Vietnamese coffee, jasmine green milk tea, mango slush, and oreo smoothie. 

In addition to the variety of alternatives and flavors, you can also ask for less ice, no ice, or regular ice depending on the boba shop you go to. You can also customize your drink based on your preference for sweetness.

Some boba places in Arcadia that are frequently visited by Arcadia High School students include Tea Brick, Half and Half Tea Express, Sharetea, Sunright Tea Studio, and Wushiland Boba.

Tea Brick is a more convenient boba place for students as it is located just across from the Arcadia Public Library. What makes it so special is the themed corgi cups and the variety of teas they have. Both reusable and cute, the corgi-themed cups won’t disappoint! Out of the top ten drinks recommended, The Christine is the most loved. The strawberry, mango, and passion fruit tea with mango and strawberry bits make it an appealing drink for everyone!

Half and Half Tea Express is most famous for its honey boba which balances well with its milk teas. Their boba is known for its consistent chewy texture and the drink portions are huge. You can even get your boba in size large which is definitely a lot larger than normal boba shops.

Sharetea is also a commonly visited boba shop by students as well. They have ice-blended drinks and a variety of milk teas. The most popular drink is definitely the QQ Happy Family Milk Tea. Consisting of big boba, mini boba, lychee jelly, grass jelly, pudding, and the option of red bean combined together with the milk tea truly makes it both a delicious and flavorful drink.

Sunright Tea Studio is a fairly new boba shop located next to the Arcadia 99 Ranch Market. When you first step inside the studio, you’re surrounded by the color yellow and bright designs. The name itself makes you want to try one of their drinks. From frosties to lattes, the options are endless! However, Boba Milk Tea takes the top spot out of the top six drinks rated by Sunright.

Wushiland Boba is located inside the Westfield Santa Anita Mall. The number one drink on the menu is the classic boba milk tea. Wushiland is known for its special flavors of drinks such as orange grapefruit, ice cream milk tea, and macchiato tea varieties. There are often long lines of people waiting which proves how popular this boba shop is!

Arcadia High School (AHS) sophomore Coco Shu shared her thoughts about boba and what she usually orders at Sharetea. 

“I just order the regular milk tea with boba,” said Shu. “I like the normal traditional teas; they’re my go-to’s.” 

When asked how frequently she purchases boba, Shu admitted this statement. “I buy boba like every week, every other week, or during the weekends like on Sunday. It’s one of my favorite drinks.”

AHS sophomore Sophia Lin talked about her all-time favorite boba shop and why it has a special place in her heart. 

“I gotta say it’s Half and Half because that was the first boba place we went to when I was little and so we just kinda kept going back because my mom likes to stay in one place,” said Lin.

Lin commented on her favorite drinks at Half and Half Tea Express. 

“I want to say I have two favorites,” she stated. “The first one I like is just regular milk tea with boba and pudding because it’s what I’m familiar with, even if it’s not outstandingly good. But I also like to try the fruit tea boba stuff.” 

In conclusion, boba is both a refreshing and energizing drink that is loved by millions of people. If you haven’t tried boba yet, be sure to head to a nearby boba shop because you don’t want to miss out on these delicious and cool drinks!


Photo by Frank Zhang