The fast-growing drink trend, called “boba,” that originated in small tea shops from Taiwan during the 1980s has made its way across the Pacific Ocean to America and is gaining popularity rapidly.

But what exactly is boba? The boba (aka the tiny, chewy black balls at the bottom of the drink) is made from tapioca, which is a gluten-free starch extracted from the root of a cassava plant. The actual drink is made from a tea base mixed with milk and flavoring.

boba

Photo by Kelly Logan

One of the best things about boba? You can add it to tons of different drinks (including tea, milk tea, iced coffee or even slushies and smoothies). There are also a variety of flavors ranging from fruity options, like watermelon or grape, to ones that satisfy the dessert lovers, like chocolate or honey. Feeling adventurous? Try flavors like taro or lychee that are native to Asian countries. It’s like a vacation for your tastebuds.

It seems important to mention that some people are still skeptical of the drink because of health concerns: in 2012, a German study suggested that boba may contain traces of carcinogenic chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, but nothing has been confirmed yet. People have questioned the results from the study because it didn’t explain how the test was administered or how many PCBs were found. So innocent until proven guilty, right? Regardless of potential carcinogens, bubble tea is loaded with calories and carbs. So, like any other delicious sugary treat, you should enjoy in moderation.

boba

Photo by Kelly Logan

If you haven’t already tried boba, the closest place you can find boba drinks here in Gainesville is at Lollicup, which is located off of SW 34th St. You can also find boba in most oriental markets or order online, if you dare to try and make it yourself.

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