On the streets of Milan in all seasons it is impossible not to notice large glasses filled with a colourful liquid in which dark balls are swimming: these are glasses of Boba o Bubble Tea. This tea drink originated in Taiwan around 1980 and arrived in the US thanks to Taiwanese immigrants in 1990. More or less quickly it spread to countries with a large East Asian population. To prepare Bubble Tea, an automatic shaker is used in which all the powders, sugar, water and any other flavourings are mixed.

Bubble Tea

Taiwan

Street Food

Yes

Admitted

Bubble Tea: a tasty and colourful drink

What is Bubble Tea or Boba?

Bubble Tea is a black or green tea drink with pearl milk. It is called pearlised because of the tapioca balls placed at the bottom of the glass. This is certainly the most common version, but there are actually many variations of it and the most popular flavours are mango, coconut, taro and coffee. So we can say that the base is tea, milk and the topping made of tapioca balls, then the colour and flavour are given by a syrup or powder that is added and mixed carefully. Bubble Tea can be served hot, chilled or even iced and is therefore perfect for all seasons.

The traditional packaging is a plastic cup hermetically sealed with foil that is perforated by a straw with a very large diameter to let the balls through.

Bubble tea packaging

All bubble tea toppings

Bubble tea always includes the famous gummy balls, which are commonly made of tapioca and take on a dark, almost black colour due to the brown sugar (photo below). However, they can be replaced with coconut, konjac, lychee, mango, coffee or red bean jelly balls. There are also other types of balls that contain fruit juices or syrups made from coconut, strawberry, melon or kiwi and release the liquid inside when broken by the teeth.

Bubble tea tapioca balls

Some shops offer milk or cheese foam or cream on the Bubble Tea in order to neutralise the bitter aftertaste of the tea and also give the possibility to choose the amount of sugar present.

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History and popularity of Bubble Tea

In Taiwan, milk and sugar have been commonly added to tea since Dutch colonisation around 1600. The novelty of Bubble Tea is the addition of tapioca or jelly balls, the origin of which is part of two different stories. The first says that the Hanlin Tea Room in Tainan was the first to put traditional Taiwanese snacks (tapioca balls) into tea in 1986. The second, on the other hand, claims that Bubble Tea was invented in the Chun Shui Tang Tea Room in Taichung in 1988.

What is certain is that Bubble Tea's success was immediate: in the 1990s, young people in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Japan would even queue for 30 minutes in front of the most popular shops to buy it. In its home country, it has become more than a drink: it is a symbol of the nation's culture and food history. Since 2020, 30 April has been Bubble Tea Day. In China, Bubble Tea consumption is five times that of coffee and among young people, giving a cup of Bubble Tea as a gift is now a way of thanking someone informally.

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Bubble Tea Milan: the new venue in Corso Lodi 93

In Milan, it is possible to taste Bubble Tea in many more or less famous establishments, here we mention A cup tea which has just opened.

Original Bubble Tea

The original Bubble Tea, with a choice of green or black tea, is available with cappuccino, with caramel, with matcha, with coconut milk and with mango. There are also numerous Bubble Teas with fruit served hot or cold. The flavours are strawberry, mango, vanilla, banana, papaya, red bean, lychee, watermelon, blueberry and melon.

Bubble tea milan with bao

Bubble Tea without milk

For the lactose intolerant, milk-free Bubble Teas are also available. The flavours are numerous: mango, strawberry, pineapple, watermelon, green apple, melon, mint, blueberry, kiwi, honey, peach, ginger, grape, mango, cherry, lychee, lemon, maracuja and coconut. The base is always black or green tea and you can add tapioca balls or fruit jellies.

How much does a Bubble Tea cost?

In the A cup tea shop in Corso Lodi, Bubble Tea is available in medium (5 €) and large (6 €) format to which a topping of your choice can be added (+ 0.50 €). There are also 2 snacks: ravioli in a 6-piece format (5 €) and meat bao (2 €), which are currently free to promote the new opening (until 10 November 2023).

Bubble Tea Milan: services & information

Bubble Tea can be consumed sitting in the small shop or taken away.

Timetable

Open Wednesday to Sunday

Continuous hours 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

How to get there

20 m Brenta metro station

700 m metro stop Lodi TIBB

Address & telephone

Corso Lodi 93, 20139 Milan

+39 XXX

Surroundings

This Bubble Tea shop is located in Milan's San Luigi district, which is very quiet and full of gardens where you can take a stroll while sipping a glass of boba. Or you can walk to piazzetta San Luigi where there is a beautiful 'village' church in a lively square at all hours of the day and late into the evening, populated with bars, pastry shops, restaurants and pubs. In this area, even though it is only five metro stops from the Duomo of Milan, it feels more like being in a small village with children still playing football in the square until late and it is very charming.

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