Boba Tea is the latest drink trend to sweep the world. Everyone seems to love the drink which is a simple mix of tea, milk, and tapioca pearls. But behind the scenes, there is a little dispute over who actually created the drink. What’s not in dispute, is that it was created in Taiwan. However, two Taiwanese tea shops are taking credit for the creation of the drink. So the question is, who’s the real inventor of boba tea?
According to the Goldthread, the delicious drink was invented by Tu Tsung-ho, the founder of Hanlin Tea Room. The drink was created in 1986 when Tu mixed tapioca drinks into his milk tea.
However, a neighboring Taiwanese tea shop refutes that claim. Liu Han-chieh, the founder of Chun Shui Tang, said that he came up with the sugary drink. Liu said that he was the first one in the area to have tea mixed with ice. And that it was his product manager Lin Hsiu-hui who added the tapioca balls in 1987. Furthermore, he claimed that the drink is called “bubble tea” because of the layer of foam on top from the drink being shaken and not because of the pearls.
So Asian Boss sat down with Lin Hsiu-hui in an interview to clear up the air. First, she said that she has been with the Chun Shui Tang for nearly 34 years and that they were first to sell bubble tea. Second, she said that they didn’t think of applying for a patent when they first created the drink.
Lin Hsiu-hui backed up her boss’s story. She said that she loved tapioca balls since she was a kid. So one day she got the idea to mix the Tapioca into her milk tea and viola, bubble tea was created.
“Inventions don’t happen suddenly,” she said. “Among the tea drinks, I liked milk tea best … When I became a product development manager, I was supposed to buy other things in the market, but then, I saw some sweet tapioca pudding.
“I’ve eaten tapioca pearls since I was young so I bought them since I really liked them to make them in the store for myself. They remind me of my childhood with significant memories from the past … That’s why I put them in my favorite milk tea. Upon doing this, it was so good!
She shared the drink with her colleagues and it was a hit. Then she asked her boss to put the drink on the menu and it took off. It wasn’t long before everyone started to copy it.
So is Lin Hsiu-hui the real inventor of boba tea? I don’t know, but she’s convinced me.