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Blog · New York · Bubble Tea – 4 Facts About NYC’s Beverage Obsession
August 8, 2016

Bubble Tea – 4 Facts About NYC’s Beverage Obsession

By Martha G
Bubble Tea
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This post on Bubble Tea is brought to you by one of our excellent New York Tour1 interns: Kun Yu.

Hi, I’m Kun Yu and I will be a senior at the High School for Math, Science and Engineering. I moved to NYC 10 years ago and I absolutely love it here. Sure, the city has it’s bad parts, such as an unreliable subway transit system, gridlock Manhattan traffic, and overcrowded streets. But, it is also home to some of the best food, scenery, and people!

Bubble Tea
Photo: Liza Sperling

With so many unique and amazing foods in New York City, Bubble Tea stands out. Despite its simplicity, New York Bubble Tea produces a sweet, refreshing, and milky flavor. Here are 4 lesser known facts about the mysterious asian drink!

Bubble Tea
Photo: Liwe-photos Photography

Common Misconception

Surprisingly, Bubble Tea doesn’t get its name from the pearls in the drink. But, rather from the bubble foam produced after shaken to enhance the flavor. In fact, the pearls are more commonly known as tapioca or boba. The pearls are made from a process which shapes starch from the roots of the cassava plant to their pearl from.

Bubble Tea
Photo: Stephanie E. via Yelp

Extreme Popularity

Since its first contraception in Taiwan in 1988, the drink has taken the world by storm. Numerous stores or franchises have popped up around the world, from big, worldwide chains like CoCo’s and Kung Fu Tea to small, local stores like Yaya Tea Garden. It’s definitely not a surprise, given how profitable these businesses can be. Bubble tea is very easy to make and prepare, and with average costs of $3-$4, Bubble Tea shops in bustling locations can expect to sell more than 1,000 drink orders a day! Furthermore, shops in busy metropolitan areas can generate profits upwards of millions of dollars! You can visit a few of the many New York Bubble Tea shops along our Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown tour.

Bubble Tea

Health Effects

We don’t want to be party poopers, but tapioca pearls found in Bubble Tea are very unhealthy. An average cup of Bubble Tea contains 45-55g of sugar and has a whopping 340 calorie count. That’s more sugar than 12 fl. Oz. can of Coke! What’s even more surprising is a scandal that broke out 2 years ago, revealing contaminated elements in a popular Taiwanese Bubble Tea chain. However, there is nothing to fear, the contaminated elements have been eliminated from consumption and safety regulations have been put in place. But, if you really want to be on the safe side, there are other toppings to add to your drink besides tapioca!

Bubble Tea

Numerous Ways to Customize

For newcomers, the huge Bubble Tea menus can be overwhelming. Thankfully, they’re typically laid out in a grid with sub-sections to help you personalize your drink. Customizations include different types of tea, milk, flavor, sugar content, and toppings. Altogether, there are more than 250 unique combinations of Bubble Tea drinks, such as a caramel milk tea with grass jelly or a passion fruit green tea with pop tapioca. Pop tapioca, a relatively new topping, is a must try! As the name implies, these tapioca pearls produce a popping sensation in your mouth when chewed.

Bubble Tea

Be sure to grab a Bubble Tea drink as you walk throughout NYC! New York Bubble Tea shops will be everywhere and it’s a perfect way to cool down in the hot sun.