It's been reported that bubble tea originated in a Taiwanese teahouse known as Chun Shui Tang by founder and creator Liu Han-Chieh, who first came up with the idea of serving Chinese tea cold in the early 1980s after visiting Japan where he sampled his first iced coffee. It wasn't until 1988, however, that his product development manager -- a Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui -- had the idea to add her sweetened tapioca pudding to the mix.
It didn't take long for the idea to become a craze, getting it's name from the method of making the drink -- all teas should be shaken, not stirred, resulting in a slight foam that creates "bubbles" at the surface when served. Today, boba tea houses can be found at nearly every street corner across much of Southeast Asia, from Japan and China to South Korea. Large coffee shop-style tea houses, they serve a varied menu of drinks, including smoothies and coffee, most alongside a menu of snacks and small dishes. At the Chun Shui teahouse, it takes servers up to six months to learn to make each of the 60 or so drinks. Here, they use only the highest quality Taiwanese-produced milk, and tapioca balls are discarded if cooked for more than three hours.
But here in the U.S., it's a different story. Although you'll find plenty of boba tea bars in cities like Los Angeles and New York City, not so in South Florida. In fact, the Black Pearl is the only store of its kind in Palm Beach County. What you'll get: a non-alcoholic and non-carbonated bubble tea that's a mix of green, oolong or black tea, milk, fruit and sugar. The ingredients in bubble tea often change from store to store, but here in the U.S. -- and at the Black Pearl -- most are made using a non-dairy milk substitute and your choice of flavored syrup.