If you are going to set up your own business in Taiwan, what would bring you the most fortune? The answer: bubble tea shop. Taiwanese can consume almost 100 billion NTD beverages at the tea shops. Now the tea shops have marched into the international market and play an important role in Taiwanese diet culture. If you wonder who created bubble tea, you can read our blog: What Every Bubble Tea Drinker Should Know.

There’s one more mystery about bubble tea shops-how/why did they go viral in the 90s and keep thriving for 30 years? Without the tea shops, bubble tea would just be a pop-up instead of being a national beverage nowadays.

The prototype of the bubble tea shop is the foam black tea shop. Compared to the traditional black tea, the foam black tea was made with a shaker. Back at the time, it was deemed as something swaggy. In the 80s, there has been a lot of foam black tea vendors in Tainan. It was the time when the Patriots’ Lottery was declining. So when the lottery shops were closed, the tea shops take their places to grow their business.

A-zhi’s Shop is one of the foam black tea shops still exist in Tainan

The trend of foam black tea was also related to the transformation of the tea houses in Taichung. The foam black tea was just a sideline in the tea house and it later became the main item. In 1987, there were more than 100 foam black tea shops in the downtown area of Taichung.

Despite the differences in development, the business models are almost the same. The foam black tea shops offered customers spaces to spare their whole time until the shops are closed. Therefore the shops drew numerous students and had their heydays in the 90s.

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The tea shops were the places where young people date

As there were more and more foam black tea shops in Taiwan, the competition among different brands stimulates the shop owners to launch their unique products. That’s why you can see black tea and green tea in different fruit flavors.

So now you know that bubble tea was born during the time when somebody tried to make a new beverage to knock down his rivals. In other words, it has a lot to do with the upsurge of the foam black tea shops, which made tea drinking no longer an expansive consumption in the high-leveled tea house but an affordable entertainment for the youth in their daily life.

The sequel of bubble tea fever

If you are a keen observer, you would notice that Taiwanese don’t just drink beverages, they enjoy chewing the stuff in their drinks. Bubble tea is just a basic item in the tea shops. Sometimes people also add ingredients like coconut jelly, herbal jelly, taro balls, pudding, and aloe into the beverage. The base of the beverage is not limited to milk tea. You can also try oolong milk tea, matcha latte, and other kinds of ice tea.

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A cup of milk tea added with pudding, pearls, coconut jelly

How to customize your own beverage like a pro?

Taiwan is probably the only place where you can have customize services at the tea shops. You can adjust the sweetness level and the amount of ice. Generally, beverages with full sugar are too sweet for common people. It’s suggested to have it with half sugar or quarter sugar. So next time when you pass by a tea shop, you can say: I’d like to order an oolong milk tea with tapioca pearl, half sugar, and ice-free, thank you.

Don’t miss the seasonal special

Mango pomelo sago(楊枝甘露): It was a dessert that originated from the restaurants of Hong Kong. It is made of diced mango, sliced pomelo, sago, coconut milk, and milk. The dessert was transformed into a beverage in 2019 by a famous brand, MACU, and successfully conquered Taiwanese’s appetite.


Dragon fruit Ice Tea: Dragon fruit can only grow in the tropical zone. The vivid color and the sour-sweet taste draw people to get the drink in summer.

Milk tea with mullet roe: Can you imagine the taste when the sweet oolong tea is added with sea salt and mullet roe? The milk tea can cover the fishy smell and bring out the taste of the mullet roe and the fragrance of oolong tea.

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Taro milk: Taiwanese taro are bigger and usually much more flavorful than their cousins in other countries. The smashed taro is cooked with sugar and added into milk. So the milk tastes smooth and creamy with a rich flavor of taro.

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最後修改日期: 9 月 11, 2020