Like instant noodles, you can get this beverage that contains a mixture of milk and tea — with other varieties containing soy milk, tapioca pearls, and coconut bits — and this can almost be your full meal, seriously. Introducing, milk tea. Beyond this cup, what is there in its history? Let’s take a glimpse.

Nutrition information and popularity

Also known as pearl milk tea or bubble tea, this drink is one of the most popular ones right now. Many stores, both small-scale and multinational ones like Tiger Sugar, are popping out and launching branches around major cities in the world. They compete with McDonald’s in terms of how customers fall in line just to get their blends. And defining this popularity is more than imaginable because it is now considered a craze.

Pearl milk teas are categorized in the group of non-alcoholic, sweet, and non-carbonated drinks. It usually contains these main ingredients aside from the milk, tea, and pearls. It is brewed tea from concentrate, adding milk or a non-dairy alternative to add creamy texture, sweetener, tapioca pearls, and more. These tapioca balls are made with flour or starch, elements extracted from the cassava roots which are native in countries like Nigeria and Thailand. The base may either be Black, jasmine, or green tea. Milk tea beverages can be of various flavors. These include mango, strawberry, honeydew, passion fruit, or kiwi.

Milk tea has various good health benefits. The combination of tea and milk gives you the perfect boost of antioxidants and protein. For example, it has 232 calories and contains minimal fats, no trans fat, and no cholesterol. This makes it a great post-workout drink. There are sugar and carbs present in the drink. Have your dose of milk tea and improve your body strength, find it as your source of energy, experience enhanced skin texture, eliminate your stress, get a good drink supply for weight loss goals, improve your mood, and promote cardiovascular health. It is also anti-inflammatory.

Carbohydrates are among the nutrients responsible for giving energy to the body, and a glass of milk team provides energy because of the carbs that it contains. Plus, it also has vitamins and minerals from the fruity flavors of the blend. But one of the most important nutrients to note is calcium. Drinking this beverage improves bone structure mainly because of the amounts of calcium it contains. You can also make your own milk tea at home. Here’s a recipe. What you’ll need are tea, milk, sweetener, tapioca pearls, and ice. To get started, you have to prepare the tea. You can either be working from scratch or you have a tea powder mixture. Then, you have to prepare the tapioca pearls. Remember that they have to be cooked so you have to make them ahead of time. Afterward, do what your barista does, time to mix! Get four glasses to hold two cups, and divided the cooked pearls between these glasses. Fill each with one and pour around one to 1.5 cups black tea into each, or your choice of tea variant. Add two to three tablespoons of milk, and stir well to combine. You can even add the soya milk and other fruit ingredients, like peaches or bananas. Have fun with the beverage! Drink this during mealtime and experience its health benefits.

Variants of milk tea

Bubble tea’s classic mix is tea plus milk, plus the tapioca for added texture. But there’s a whole lot more varieties in the shelf that you might want to try. Just be careful not having them in a single day because they’re pretty much strong for your intestines. However, they also provide benefits for your digestion.

The matcha-flavored ones are irresistible. Aside from the classic fusion, matcha tea is the one used. This is a very powerful form of green tea with several antioxidants for the body. You can either have them with or without sugar. Adding almond milk and chia seeds make this even more exciting. Then, you have the Thai bubble tea which makes use of the Siam-inspired tea mixture which tastes like vanilla, compared with other varieties. Wintermelon pearl milk tea is sweeter since winter refers to caramelized sugar. Have you ever heard of the milk tea popcorn flavor? It is not popcorn per se, but made from green tea and toasted rice. The taste and the color of popcorn mostly come from toasted rice ingredients. Then, you have to taro-flavored milk tea. This is also a favorite out of the different taste of the taro from the taro root, giving it the sweet and creamy flavor. People say that it is similar to eating cookies and cream-flavored ice cream. What about the mousse bubble tea? Appealing for those with adventurous palates, this has the tea mix plus the delicious mousse as the toppings. It’s cake and drink fused into one. Then, you also have the honeydew-flavored milk tea, which you have to try icy cold, and the coconut bubble tea which is also overwhelmingly healthy.

Historical references

The future is bright for milk tea lovers. Drinking milk tea is a global phenomenon, and according to market researchers, the global bubble tea market is now at around $1.8 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach $3.49 billion in 2026. Thailand remains the top consumer of milk tea, followed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The United States is among the largest consumers of milk tea in the North American region. Over 155 million Americans drink tea on any given day, and in 2018, they had more than 3.8 billion gallons of this food supply. But where did it start?

Many historical data point its origins in Taiwan, a country in East Asia nearby Japan and the Philippines. It is in Taiwan where the largest makers and consumers of milk tea are found. However, according to Ethnic Seattle website, the origins date back around 400 years ago, during the time of the British and Dutch East India Company. Hello, Jack Sparrow and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Both the colonizing countries of Holland (present-day Netherlands) and England established the company during their colonization in Asia, particularly in India. As you may well know, trades between India and Southeast Asia happened during these times. Moreover, even France ventured and invested into the East India Company. Among the products traded were milk and tea. It was the Dutch and the British who brought the Indian milk tea in China. Since they were not used to having the Indian tea because of its strong flavors, they had to replace these spices with maple sugar mixed with the tea. This taste was closer to that of what you have today. Milk tea came in as both a pleasurable and practical reason for the making. These colonizers had to counteract the bitterness of brewed tea by adding milk and sweeteners. This particular blend was imported to Europe, and the Taiwanese milk tea of today was created based on these varieties. All this happened in the 17th century. The closest to what you have today in terms of the recipe is Taiwan milk tea. The Dutch were among the colonizers of this East Asian country in the 1600s. The county became one of their main trading points alongside Indonesia, Iran, and India. The Taiwanese people then had their first taste of milk tea imported from Europe and the East India Company locations in South Asia. During the time the Taiwanese had Japanese rulers, the locals established plantations of Japanese black tea. It was during this time that the demand for this beverage increased.

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In the 1980s, Taiwan opened a shop known as the Chunshui Tang and was run by a woman named Xiuhui Liu. She added Taiwanese glutinous rice balls into the milk tea mix, which then became the origins of the tapioca pearls. The shape of the rice balls looked like pearls. Then, in the early 1990s, milk tea became part of the menu selections for many coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Schools and night markets began selling bubble tea. In the late 1990s, stores invested in using machines that mass-produce these beverages and make the entire preparation quicker and more efficient. The milk tea industry expanded worldwide, with markets being opened in Hong Kong and in mainland China in 1996. Canada and Japan also prospered with a loyal market drinking these cups in the 1990s. Today, the milk tea craze is still popular and will expand in the years to come.