Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Tetley is spilling the tea on the Bubble tea trend

The Bubble tea trend has taken the world – and more recently South Africa – by storm. The name itself is enough to inspire a reasonable amount of interest – so what exactly is Bubble tea?

Bubble tea, also known as Boba tea, is a drink native to Taiwan. It is made from a tea base (which can be black, green, or earl grey tea) and is usually mixed in a cocktail shaker with milk and tapioca pearls.

As it’s considered a trendy (and delicious!) beverage, Bubble tea bars have become commonplace in South Africa, with patrons enjoying the novelty of different flavours and variations, as well as the pearls (or Boba) which are drunk through a wide straw.

Some interesting facts about Bubble Tea

The original tapioca pearls were made by extracting starch from the cassava root, a long plant that originates in Brazil. However, modern tapioca pearls are sometimes made from cornstarch or other starches. Bubble tea originated in Aichung City in Taiwan in the late 1980s and was first created by Liu Han Chieh. The popularity of the drink initially grew among students who would buy Bubble tea from street vendors as a replacement for breakfast or a snack. Bubble tea has many names, including pearl milk tea, tapioca milk tea, boba tea, or boba. Popular Bubble tea flavours globally are Tiger Milk tea, Thai Milk tea, and Lychee Fruit tea.

Commenting on the trend, Tetley partner dietitian, Mbali Mapholi, explained that, while certainly a delicious refreshment, Bubble tea should be enjoyed in moderation:

“Although the health benefits of the base tea are still present, Bubble tea itself provides very few health benefits, though its calories and carbohydrates can provide you with a boost in energy. Bubble tea recipes usually contain high levels of sugar, which means if consumed frequently may contribute to a poor diet.”

Taking this into account, Mapholi has shared a Bubble tea recipe that can be tried at home and can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Tetley Black Bubble Tea Recipe


  • 4 Tetley Premium Blend tea bags
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca pearls
  • 1/4 cup of milk of choice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar


In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add in the tea bags and steep until the water cools completely. Meanwhile, cook the tapioca pearls according to the package, or the directions below. Drain the tea into a pitcher. Divide the cooked tapioca pearls into 2 large glasses. Add a few ice cubes to each glass. Pour 1 cup of the tea into each glass. Add ½ cup milk and 2-3 teaspoons of brown sugar into each glass. Stir and taste the bubble milk tea. Add more milk or sugar as needed to taste.

How to Cook Tapioca Pearls

Bring water to a boil in a pot. Slowly add in the tapioca pearls. Give the water a gentle stir so that the pearls do not stick to each other. Let the water boil for a minute. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the tapioca pearls for 5 minutes or according to the instructions on the packet. Turn off the heat and leave the tapioca pearls covered for a few minutes. Drain the hot water and rinse the tapioca pearls in cold water for a little bit. Drain the cold water and transfer the pearls to a container.

Tetley Green Bubble Tea Recipe

For all those Green tea fans, Tetley Green tea influencer and fitness fanatic Carol Mkhize has developed a Green Bubble tea alternative.


  • 1 Tetley Mango flavoured Green tea plus Vitamin B5 flavoured tea bag.
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 1tsp honey
  • 100ml cold water
  • 4-5tsp of pomegranate Bursting Boba (can be purchased online)
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • Mint leaves


Steep 1 Tetley Mango flavoured Green teabag in 250ml boiling water and leave to brew for 10-15 minutes. Set the tea aside to cool at room temperature. Add 1tsp of honey to the tea then add 100ml of cold water to the tea. Add 4 tsp or the desired amount of pomegranate boba in a glass. Add some ice to your glass and some mint leaves. Pour the mango flavoured green-tea into the glass and top with boba bubbles. Garnish with mint.

To find more recipes, visit www.joekels.co.za.

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