It was during the 1980s when some genius in Taiwan invented bubble tea by adding tapioca balls or ‘pearls’ to flavoured tea. People went wild for it. Bubble tea rapidly spread to other East and Southeast Asian countries before the West caught up. Bubble tea is now used as a catch-all term for (mainly) East Asian drinks that you can customise by choosing a base, tweaking your desired ice and sugar levels, adding toppings, and sipping it all up through a wide straw.
Bases can be fresh tea, milk tea, flavoured milk, fruit tea, and cheese tea (tea with a cream cheese foam layer on the top). Toppings include pearls, sago, jelly, custard pudding and foams. It’s mostly consumed cold but there are some options that are served hot, and many shops display a list of popular combos to make ordering easy for the overwhelmed or indecisive. Basically, bubble tea is a choose-your-own-adventure that’s delicious and fun to drink. Melbourne is in the midst of a tea-shop boom, but these are our top picks to get you well acquainted with bubble tea.
Prefer a brew? These are Melbourne's top spots for a coffee. And if you need something to eat on the run, why not opt for one the best cheap eats in Melbourne. You can even get snacking after hours with the best late-night eats this city has to offer.