What Happened to Tea?
What is Boba Tea? A drink called tea but is made up mostly of syrups, powders, water, and Tapioca Pearls.
After centuries of tradition, then commercialization, Boba Tea is one of the evolutionary products of tea. In the early years of the 21st century, a Boba Tea craze swept the States, where hundreds of franchises bloomed to satiate the need for this “tea” drink. There are quite a few Boba Tea drinks that are actually tea-based, but many of these drinks are popular for their fruit slushy flavors, and more prominently their Tapioca Pearls.
In Little Saigon (the area of SoCal with the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam), this Boba Tea craze inducted hundreds of companies into the “tea” business. Perhaps this has something to do with the prominence of tea in Vietnamese dietary and ritual traditions. Yet, these Boba Tea “cafes” soon grew to the site of popular late-night hangouts for young adults, contrary to the old notion of sophisticated tea. Now, after drinks and bar-hopping, many recoup from their nighttime adventures with a Boba tea drink. Rarely does anyone actually order hot or iced tea from one of these venues.
This is yet another interesting example of low tea- the diminution of cultural and traditional tea drinking to feed the market demand for tea products.