Taiwan's SpecialTea

Chances are you've tried bubble tea at least once, aka pearl milk tea or boba tea. It's cheap, fun and delicious. But what exactly is bubble tea and where is it from? Lynda and Iris delve into the topic of this Taiwanese drink. 

To learn more, Lynda interviews Anchal Lamba, president of GongCha USA in New York City, while Iris talks to Nana Chan who is from Taiwan and the owner of the artisanal tea house Teakha in Hong Kong.

As you know, Lynda and Iris love talking about trends so we kick off the episode with a discussion about a very important trend: Pokémon GO. Iris also contemplates the irony of serving customers in Cooking Dash when she serves customers for a living. Life imitates iPhone game, or iPhone game imitates life? Hmm.

We discuss what exactly bubble tea shops sell and all the customizations and chewy add-ins available. But by far, the most popular and iconic add-in is tapioca pearls or "boba", with the latter apparently referring to large breasts.

"It doesn't really taste like much, but the way [the texture] balances with the tea that you're having...I think it offers a different sensation in your mouth. It just gives an interesting take on the beverage. And slowly becomes addicting." - Anchal Lamba on the unique appeal of bubble tea

Lynda then tells us about the short history of this beverage, which started in the 1980s in Taiwan. In the spirit of past episodes, Lynda still somehow manages to butcher names even though she grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese. Skillz. We also talk about the international reach of bubble tea and how unlike some other Asian foods that don't leave Chinatown, it appeals to a wide audience.

"Even though [tea] is such an ancient product, I don't feel like people have really fully explored the different ways you can drink tea. Bubble tea is one very good way of doing that, and it's a very friendly drink. It's kind of fun, it's got these chewy bits. Whereas hardcore Japanese or traditional Chinese tea is less approachable and takes more time and patience to appreciate." - Nana Chan on why bubble tea is so popular and a great beginner's tea

However, it's not all fun and games. We talk about the health concerns surrounding bubble tea. Remember, the sugar content is very high, even if it may seem healthier than soda. There's also some controversy about cheap or dangerous ingredients used by some bubble tea shops. 

We then get into new innovations in the world of bubble tea in Taiwan. On one hand, there are artisanal bubble tea stores cropping up in Taiwan. On the other hand, old school marketing tactics still work and one bubble tea shop has gone viral by hiring buxom Taiwanese women to sell bubble tea in lightbulb shape cups. Boba, literally.

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