The Not-So Starving Student—Four Types of Bubble Tea

One drink that has taken the world by storm is the iconic bubble tea.  Often the first thing that comes to mind is a clear cup filled with milk tea with tapioca “bubbles” at the bottom of the cup.  The tapioca and other toppings added give bubble tea a certain flare quite unlike any other drink.  But did you know that there are in fact different categories and types of bubble tea that exist? Let’s take a look at 4 different types of bubble teas and what to expect.

Milk bubble tea

The milk bubble tea is a classic that first-timers oftentimes try.  It is made from fresh milk or constituted milk that has been added to red or green tea.  Sometimes customers can also decide on the level of sugar (0%, 25%, 50% and 100% sugar levels) and ice used in the drink.  The milk bubble tea originated from Taiwan and has been a hit in Asia first before moving to North America and Europe.  On my most recent trip to Shanghai, milk bubble tea or boba tea was so popular that a tea shop would be found at almost every street corner.

Real fruit bubble tea

Unlike the milk bubble tea, real fruit bubble tea is a not only a refreshing alternative but also helps eliminate the fat content of the tea.  For customers on a diet or wishing to change up the flavor profile, real fruit bubble tea like its name uses freshly cut fruits mixed with tea for a healthy alternative (so long as sugar is kept to a minimum).

Salted milk cap

Salted milk cap is a variety of bubble tea that offers an unique twist to the traditional milk tea.  While the body of the tea can be customed to either a milk-based boba tea or juice-based boba tea, the milk cap is a foamy, salty topping that sits on the surface of the tea.  You might wonder, “Who would want to drink foam?” but in fact because of the saltiness of the topping, the milk cap changes the flavor of the traditional bubble tea entirely.  Sweet and salty is a delicious combo that can be enjoyed in several ways.  For those who like savory flavors more, there is a special opening on top of the bubble tea lid that allows customers to sip the milk cap while enjoying the tea.  For those wanted a combination of sweet of salty at once, shaking the contents will mix the foam cap with the tea itself offering a blend with a pleasantly surprising flavor.

Left to right: milk bubble tea, salted milk cap, real fruit tea (grapefruit), another salted milk cap

Smoothie bubble tea

While traditional bubble tea does not have ground up ice or ice shavings, Westernized varieties might choose to blend the tea, milk and ice in a blender.  The content becomes a slushie like quality that is especially cooling drink that’s perfect for the summer.