Surprising Facts About Boba, Bubble Tea and Weird Toppings

Boba tea, also known as bubble tea is a delicious drink invented in Taiwan in the 80s. Boba tea shops are popping up all over the world with increasing popularity. Children and adults alike love sipping on the sweet, shaken drink.

Boba drinkers who are new to the treat may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices to be made while ordering the drink. With sweetness level, toppings like “grass jelly” or “red bean” and even “cheese foam,” it’s easy to see how a person can be overwhelmed when first trying the drink. Then, some boba shops may even have custom types of tapioca pearls. Popping boba, brown sugar boba, or just the house boba.

To learn more about boba, give a listen to Cozy Rainbow Podcast S3E2.

This week's creative challenge is to draw an animal drinking boba. Send your submissions to to be featured in our season 3 finale. The deadline is October 25, 2022.   In this episode we answer questions like: What's the best boba tea topping? What flavors of boba are most popular? What is grass jelly made of? Who invented boba tea? Is boba tea from China or Taiwan? Try Amazon Music: — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

For a visual aid, please view our Youtube Video about Boba Tea!

Boba Tea Art Challenge for Kids

Draw an animal drinking boba tea.

panda drinking boba tea

What is Boba Tea?

Boba tea is a Taiwanese drink made of tea and tapioca pearls. In Taiwan in the 1980s, one tea stall owner began adding fruit to her teas as a sweetener.

Boba is synonym for tapioca pearls or balls.

The tea became more and more popular. The tea drinks needed to be shaken and mixed very well, hence it’s nickname “bubble tea.”

Who invented boba?

There are a few different stories as to how the tapioca “bubbles” were added into the tea. 

boba cup that says "sip sip hooray!"

Many people, when they try boba for the first time are shocked by the unique texture of the tapioca balls. 

What is Q or QQ?

The unique texture is called “Q” in Taiwanese. QQ means soft, springy, elastic, or chewy. One New York Times article author wrote that “Q texture is to Taiwanese what ‘al dente’ is to Italians”

Q means chewy, but QQ means REALLY chewy. Other foods that can be described as Q are gummy candies, noodles and doughnuts.

QQ noodles - chewy and delicious noodles hanging from a chopstick into a bowl

The word for tapioca balls in Chinese is fenyuan, and the snack made it’s way to Taiwanese sweet snack shops.

Many tea shops allow bubble teas to be highly customizable, even down to the level of sweetness. 

For example, at Kung Fu tea, a large classic milk tea has 5 grams of sugar at it’s lowest sugar level, and 47 grams at 100% sugar level.

For reference, a bottle of Coca-Cola has 44g of sugar.

bottle of coca cola exploding

What are some boba tea add-ins?

If you visit a boba tea shop today, many other “toppings” besides tapioca balls are available.

Some other popular tea toppings are: grass jelly, egg pudding, red beans, cheese foam, egg custard, popping boba, taro balls, crushed oreos and much more.

Some of the most popular flavors of boba tea are thai tea, honeydew, brown sugar, and taro.’

Guess That Topping Boba Tea Trivia!

To find the answers to the trivia, listen to the episode.

  1. With starch coming from the cassava root, a plant that grows in Africa, Asia and South America, this topping is gluten-free, and is mostly carbs or “carbohydrates”!
  2. Created from boiling leaves and stems, then combining with cornstarch or rice flour. This topping can help reduce cholesterol, control high blood sugar levels,  promote digestive system function, and many more health benefits.
  3. This topping contains only 3 ingredients: eggs, water and sugar. To perfect this dessert, be camreful not to overwhisk and do not remove the lid while steaming.
  4. This topping is rich in fiber and protein, has a grainy and earthy texture. 
  5. This tropical-grown topping is popular for it’s unique purple color.
  6. This topping can come in a variety of fruit flavors, has a lot of sugar and will burst inside your mouth!
  7. This topping is made of cream cheese, milk, whipping cream, salt and sugar. The milk can be evaporated milk, condensed milk or even sour cream. Most often, this topping is a foam that rests on top of the tea.

Boba Tea Lesson

Want to teach about boba tea? Use our free printables on TeachersPayTeachers store.

Do You Know About Boba Tea? FREE on TPT