The Rise of Boba

From Taiwan to Irvine, boba serves as a multicultural refreshing drink

History of Boba

Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, pearl tea and tapioca tea, has its roots in the beautiful island of Taiwan. In the 1980s, tea businesses prevailed in many cities and catered to numerous Taiwanese citizens to quench their thirst. The increasing competition inevitably pressured businesses to come up with new, interesting flavors and toppings to attract more customers and to be recognized as the “best” tea store by the locals. Although the direct origin of the invention of boba is unclear, generally Liu Han-Chieh receives credit for being the first to add tapioca pearls to his tea. His store, Chun Shui Tang, in Taichung, Taiwan is now a famous attraction for tourists to visit the original location where boba first entered the market. This popular drink now exists on a global scale and numerous stores replicate the recipe to serve their community with their best take on authentic, refreshing boba tea.

Graphic by Alexa Gamo

Boba in Irvine

Boba tea originates from Southeast Asia, so how is it so popular here in Irvine? According to the City of Irvine, Asians compromise 45.31% of the population, which explains how the Eastern drink settled in the West coast. Irvine accommodates an immense amount of tea shops, ranging from old time favorites like Lollicup and Cha for Tea, to newer establishments including Tastea and 7 Leaves. In just this month alone, two shops recently opened: OMOMO Tea Shoppe and ShareTea. Bubble tea’s continued success illustrates its rising prevalence in the community as a common favorite. Besides the refreshing and delicious taste, stores attract a greater range of customers through artful interior decor, aesthetic graphic designs and menu variety. Students in particular are enticed by the trendy drink because of its cheap price and accessibility. This impact makes the drink an integral part of the city’s culture. The drink trekked a long journey from Taiwan to Irvine, and it shows that it is here to stay.