Bubble tea, also known as foam tea, is a sweetly flavored tea beverage invented in Taiwan in the 1980s. Drink recipes may vary, but most bubble teas contain a tea base mixed with fruit (or fruit syrup) and/or milk. Ice blended versions of the drink are also available, usually in fruit flavors.
One of famous categories of bubble teas is "pearl milk tea" (also known as "boba milk tea" and "tapioca (ball) milk tea") contains small chewy balls made of starch like tapioca (cassava), potato or sweet potato called "pearls", "fenyuan" or "boba". Pearls made of jelly are also available in many places. These teas are shaken to mix the ingredients, creating a foam on the top of some varieties, hence the name.
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, first spread to nearby East Asian countries, migrated to Canada before spreading to Chinatowns throughout the United States, and then to various college towns along the West Coast. There are also bubble tea cafes in the UK.
There are many variants of the drink, depending on the types of tea used and ingredients added. The most popular kinds are "bubble black tea" (traditional Chinese: 泡沫紅茶; literally "foam red tea"), "bubble green tea" (泡沫綠茶), "pearl milk tea" (珍珠奶茶), "pearl green & milk tea" (珍珠奶綠), "pearl black tea" (珍珠紅茶) and "pearl green tea" (珍珠綠茶) etc