Boba Tea, What Else to Know?

Boba Tea, What Else to Know?

7 December, 2020

Originated from Taiwan, the classic boba tea is simply a combination milk, black tea, tapioca pearls and ice. Throughout the boom of boba tea, its flavors and methods have developed significantly and different (Asian) city/country have their own signature. Let´s find out.


Invented by Lin Hsiu Hui, boba tea is one of the most well-loved beverage for all street food lovers in the world and the industry for boba tea has become the game changer for many.

The concept of boba tea has changed drastically when Asian even choose boba tea shops as a place to date, called Boba date.

Credit: Luck is the black sheep

Not only the flavors have devloped, but everything about boba tea has expanded. Literally.

5 liters of milk tea

Taiwanese even transform it into desserts such as Boba tea lava cake

Or boba tea pizza

What´s going on in Asia is: The bigger or weirder the boba tea is, the more excited people get. Talk about boba tea obsession…

Hong Kong

Known as “yeet lai cha”, meaning “hot milk tea”, Hong Kong milk tea has a robust flavor. Produced during the colonial days of the British rule, Hong Kong milk tea has a long history.

I have to say the toughest differentiation of boba tea is between Taiwanese and HongKong versions. But, you can distinguish them through the bitterness of black tea. Taiwanese boba tea is sweeter and richer of the milky flavor, while HongKong milk tea has a more bitter note of black tea.

A signature beverage from Hong Kong is Yuanyang tea (Lovebirds tea). Are you thinking about this image after seeing the name?

Credit: Cloud Productions

But nope! Yuanyang tea is actually a combine of strong black coffee with equally strong black tea. In other words, lovebirds tea means “coffee + tea 4 eva”.


Thailand is very famous for its mouthful street foods, there are hundreds of different kinds of food and drinks. If pad thai and tomyum are the face of savoury foods, then Thai milk tea (Cha Yen) has stolen thousands of hearts.

Thai milk tea has a bolder red color and its taste is definitely pungent with the combination of black tea brewed together with spices, creating a bold, creamy and aromatic taste.

Thai milk tea for me personally isn´t foreign because I have tried it many times in Vietnam. It was quite trendy. But when I travelled to Thailand, I was fascinated by how Thai street food artists upgraded it by doing “teh tarik”, meaning “pulled tea”. You will understand why I chose the word artist because it is really an awesome yet difficult technique:


We all know the popularity of Japanese tea ceremony and the green matcha powder makes its name worldwide, used widely in many desserts and drinks. But for me, what´s more impressive is Japanese vending machines, with over 5 millions units nationwide.

Credit: tsunagu Japan

That being said, Japanese vending machines offer everything you could think of, even enough for anyone to have a 3-course meal. So, obviously boba tea are sold in electronic iron boxes as well.

Boba tea in Helsinki

Here´s the recommendation list of boba tea shops in Helsinki that are worth checking out:

  • More Tea for traditional Taiwanese flavors.
  • Bumi Cafe perfect for Vietnamese boba tea.
  • Kong Cha has a typical Hong Kong boba tea taste.
  • Finncafe is a small boba tea van that pops up from place to place.

by Vi Le.