Commonly referred to as ‘pearl milk tea’ in Taiwan, bubble tea is a tea made with milk and shaken with additional flavours, often served chilled. The ‘bubbles’ in its name refer to chewy tapioca balls which are added into the tea. You’ll find stalls and even restaurants all over Singapore selling bubble tea, with the majority of them being simple walk-up counters where you can order your drink to-go. Be warned, though, of long queues at peak hours!
Given the hot tropical weather prevalent here, bubble tea is a refreshing choice of drink when you’re out exploring Singapore’s many attractions. Here's a tip: you might want to start by studying the menu board - there are a dizzying number of choices and variations to consider. You'd be hard-pressed to find yourself holding the exact same drink as the next person in the queue!
You get plenty of flexibility with your bubble tea. Make your choices from a long list of categories: from the type of tea you want (black, white, green, oolong) and added flavourings (normally a range of fruit-based flavours, but you also get other flavours like chocolate, matcha and caramel) to the level of sweetness you like and even the type of ‘pearls’ you’d like added.
Pearls normally refer to small, round tapioca balls that are mostly gelatinous but with a firmer bite in the middle. You can also choose from other varieties which contain softer or crispier textures, though. Pearls come in a wide range of flavours that can be chosen to complement the tea flavour you selected earlier on. Customise your bubble tea to your heart's delight!
Inspired by the perennial local favourite of ice-blended coffee, some bubble tea shops offer ice blended tea, giving the drink the consistency of a slushy beverage. Some bubble tea outlets have also responded to the more health craze in recent years and have since created healthier bubble tea options by using lower-fat milk. You can also ask for less sugar to be added. Tip: the pearls in the drink make up for a large proportion of the calorie count in bubble tea, so reducing the number of pearls will help make the your little treat healthier.
If bubble tea isn’t your thing at all, however, there are still numerous other options to enjoy something tall and cool in Singapore’s heat: here's a useful guide to our local drinks and desserts.