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Zhenzhu Naicha (珍珠奶茶 Pearl Milk Tea)

Zhenzhu Naicha (珍珠奶茶 Pearl Milk Tea)


Usually called “bubble tea,” pearl milk tea is the beverage Taiwan is most known for. It includes such varieties as “boba naicha” (波霸奶茶 boba milk tea) and “fenyuan naicha” (粉圓奶茶 tapioca milk tea).


Served with sweet, chewy spheres made of tapioca starch, nicknamed “pearls,” pearl milk tea has a more interesting taste and mouth feel than its cousins milk tea and regular tea. The drink is pleasant, whether served cold or hot.


Two stores claim invention of pearl milk tea. However, the truth may never be known, as neither applied at the time for a trademark. After pearl milk tea began to become ubiquitous in teahouses around Taiwan, enterprising people set up drink shops stocked with imported automatic sealing machines. They then began to open branches in other countries, starting a global craze.

Pearl milk tea is a variety of “paomo hongcha” (泡沫紅茶 bubble tea). Bubble tea is named for the delicate foam, or bubble, that forms when tea is shaken. With milk or cream, bubble tea becomes milk tea.

The “pearls” in pearl milk tea are a traditional Taiwanese ingredient, chewy spheres made of tapioca starch or sweet potato flour. The black variety gets its coloring from the addition of syrup.

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