It is National Bubble Tea Day!
There are two stories as to how Bubble Tea was created. The first claim is that of Tu Tsong-he’s, owner of Hanlin Tea Room of Tainan in Taiwan. He was inspired by white tapioca balls he saw at Ya Mu Liao Market, decided to make tea with them, and call it ‘Pearl Tea’. The other claim is that Liu Han-Chieh began serving cold tea to his customers at Chun Shui Tang Tea Room after learning that the Japanese would often serve coffee cold. Liu’s story continues with his creation gaining popularity as the franchise’s top-selling beverage.
Regardless of who invented Bubble Tea (BBT), it is a fact that it is a very popular drink in East and Southeast Asia during the 1990s. Its popularity spread to the U.S., and on 30 April 2010, the company Kung Fu Tea was founded, and they became America’s largest bubble tea brand. In 2018, Kung Fu Tea established National Bubble Tea Day in honour of their 8th birthday. Since then, 30 April has become synonymous with celebrating Bubble Tea!
The original bubble tea is made using either oolong, green, or black tea, mixed with milk, sugar syrup, and chewy tapioca balls, then served cold with ice. There is also a whole range of other ingredients that can be added to the tea, including fruit purees, fruit jelly, agar agar, and aloe vera.
In this era, Bubble Tea has become somewhat a “comfort food”, at least to me! These pricey cups of sugary feel-goods are a luxury treat to have when feeling really down. While they may soothe the heart, is it healthy for the body to rely on these cups of temporary happiness?
There are health benefits to drinking unsweetened black or green tea daily. Black and green tea contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties (which means they help protect the body against free radicals that cause cellular damage and inflammation in the body).
However, when other ingredients are added to create the bubble tea, these add to the sugar and caloric levels of the black/green tea, making it less healthy a drink, especially if you are watching your weight or controlling sugar/calorie intake.
Here are some ways to make healthier decisions when ordering your next BBT:
- Ask for less sugar, or opt for 0% sugar levels (including less flavoured syrup, and sweetened fruit purees)
- Ask for fresh milk (preferably low-fat milk) as a substitute for non-diary creamers
- Ask for plain bubble tea; No tapioca pearls, or milk, to reduce the calories
Or you could make this zero-calorie decision: Make a reminder bell to help you fend off those sugary cravings!
Bubble Tea Bells
In April, we also celebrate Earth Day, so I got a little bit of inspiration to create these BBT Bells while sipping on (you-guessed-it!) my Bubble Tea! As much as possible, our crafts are centred on upcycling, so we are using as little new items as we can. Basically, use what you already have at home, without the need to go out and buy it new.
I found these roundish bells at home. And I had black nail polish and clear varnish. These are going to be the boba (aka the tiny, chewy black balls at the bottom of bubble tea, made from tapioca, a gluten-free starch extracted from the root of a cassava plant).
To make painting easier, I slid them on a stick. While you want the bells to look like boba as much as possible, I have learnt that putting too thick a coat of nail polish will greatly affect the sound quality.
Once, they are dry: Are these not the cutest looking boba! Pretty to look at, and have zero-calories!
These are the other materials you would need. I chose a roundish cup on purpose, so it could look the closest to bells (just imagine the cup upside down, and you will see the bell shape curve). What IS different though, is that we want our bells to look like Bubble Tea instead.
I did not want to reuse my bubble tea straw, so I created a new, stronger one with some black construction paper, unwanted flyers, and self-adhesive paper. Roll up the flyer tightly, lengthwise, and tape the edges. Cover the black construction paper with the self-adhesive paper. Make 1cm wide cuts along one breadth of the black paper. We need to attach this part to the cup later. Roll the black paper over the rolled-up flyer, and tape the edges.
The bottom of the cup is made of a very hard layer of plastic, so it would be great if you have a rotary tool to help drill holes. At the base of the cup, drill a hole big enough to snugly fit the straw, but do not put it in yet.
Around the bottom half of the cup, you can also use the drill to make little holes to poke the bells through, from the inside.
I chose not the glue the bells down, so what I did was to thread colourful yarn (or a suede string) through the bells on the outside, and glue the thread down on the cup, so that it looks like I have colourful layers of tea. Once the glue is dry, you can choose to spray a varnish on the outside of the cup. I chose a glossy varnish, so that my BBT looks like it has condensation.
Once everything is dry, you can now insert the straw. Remember the little cuts we made on the black paper? When you rolled the paper up, it can now open up like a flower. That part will be glued on the bottom of the cup. I trimmed it to size, and pasted another circular piece of paper on the bottom of the cup.
And there we have it! Our very own Bubble Tea bells! Every time you feel like you need a sugary boost, just reach for this, and do some exercise instead (shake shake)! Or this could also work as a call bell for the office/family bubble tea run!
Either way, just shake it for bubble tea!
I hope you enjoyed this post, and that you will enjoy your time making this as well. If you have tried this craft, or you have made any other musical crafts, remember to tag us on Instagram @bloomschoolsg, and hashtag #BloomSchoolDIY. We can’t wait to see what you have made!
Happy National Bubble Tea Day!