FT NEWS Japan
Have you ever seen these long crazy lines of eager youngsters in front of a store? Or these overwhelming Instagram photos of these colorful drinks with black pearls on the bottom of a vacuum-sealed cup? My Japanese teacher once said, “If you’re walking along the street holding a tapioca milk tea, you’ll instantly look cool!”
The bubble tea craze has exploded recently and now they’re a fast-growing favorite among young people in Japan. The current boom has even spurred the creation of new vocabulary such as the verb “tapiru,” which means to drink a tapioca beverage, and “tapikatsu,” which loosely equates to “tapioca hunting”.
Tapioca – some refer it as boba – is a starch extracted from the storage roots of a cassava plant. It is originally unflavored and is originally white, but it is dyed black by caramel to be used in bubble tea. Tapioca soft drinks first appeared in Taiwan years ago and has been around in Japan too, for many years, but the beverage has never been a true trend until now.
As the popularity of tapioca milk tea rises, famous tapioca tea shops expanding chain stores in Japan has revived its popularity. Several shops create their own signature twist to attract customers. These drinks now come in various flavors, shapes, and designs and some are customizable too.
Many tourists are expected to come for the Tokyo Olympics. So this boom will not only be driven by Japanese people but also by visitors from overseas. If you want to experience the hype, you’ll easily find a boba store anywhere. You will get to know why this drink is so popular once you try it!
By Monica Tamayao/ Staff Writer