Addicted to Pearls: Bubble Milk Tea Craze

Time is unpredictable, and it leaves people wondering what will come next? Hipsters used to parade the latest, trendy bar, or coffee joint, but now a new trend has reached Sarawak – the Bubble/Pearl Milk Tea trend.

Bubble milk tea joints have become like mushrooms thriving after the rain, growing in abundance! The chewy tapioca balls in milk tea trend started in Taiwan back in the 80s. While there were several tea vendors claiming to be the first, the most credible story was from Liu Han-Chieh of Chun Shui Tang Teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan. Liu noted that the Japanese enjoyed drinking cold coffee, so he tried making cold tea. It became popular throughout the city. In 1988, Liu added tapioca balls which were known to be the bubble/pearls into his iced teas, hence the popular combination was born!

For me, I like the original pearl milk tea with a layer of cheese on top. it is like a combination of salty and sweet, and it brings out a very milky flavour to the tea. I have asked others to share their opinion with me as well.

Sherrie Pui

School teacher Maria Olga loves her milk tea so much that when her favourite joint first opened, she could have two cups in a day! But for now, the 25-year-old has capped it at three to four times a week. Her favourite milk tea would be the Signature Pearl Milk Tea with no ice from RegiusTea, Kuching.

“I enjoy drinking it because it tastes good! I am a huge fan of milk, and milk tea is like the adult version of milk. However, if it does not exist, I would most probably drink chocolate milk, which is the upgraded version of milk,” she quipped.

In her opinion, milk tea joints increased in numbers because it is a unique and yummier version of enjoying milk tea. “With the cheese flavour introduced, it is no wonder drinking milk tea is now a trend and people can just hang out at the joints until midnight,” said Maria.

Syazwana, on the other hand, opined that milk tea joints appeal to the huge market of millennials. “These generation of people are moving towards something that is ‘instagrammable’, and ‘artisanal’.”

She enjoys her milk tea twice a month only due to the price factor and its sweetness. However, when asked why does she enjoy it, the 29-year-old answered, “This question is not valid. This drink is practically heaven in your mouth. No questions needed. Its like Life without the F, a lie!”

Her favourite milk tea beverage is the Matcha Red Bean Cheese Milk Tea from Chizu, Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur and the Cheesecake and Pearl Milk Tea from Macao Imperial Milk Tea, Kuching.

Maria Olga

Meanwhile, Sherrie Pui, also 29, prefers the Black Sugar Caramel Pearl Milk Tea from Gen.Z, Sabah with less sugar and normal ice level. She can drink it every two weeks, or whenever the weather is hot. To her, life without bubble milk tea would be so bland because there is one less sweetness in life. If it is not milk tea, she would be sipping the local teh c or teh tarik peng, which is technically the Malaysian version of milk tea.

Sherrie opined that more people are visiting milk tea joints as they are bored of coffee joints such as Starbucks. “It is a trend right now because bubble milk tea shops have great ambience and it is a new place for us to hang out.”

As for 21-year-old Jacelyn Ng, she thinks that milk tea joints have an element of Asian lifestyle placed into it. Furthermore, drinks offered on the menu are getting more fancier with the varieties offered.

Her weakness would be the Tealive’s Bang Bang Fresh Milk with Brown Sugar Warm Pearls and she would have it at least once a week. “I am obsessed with munching on the pearls. Life without it is like peanut without butter, which sucks!” Jacelyn exclaimed.

Another milk tea enthusiast, Colleen May’s favourite milk tea is the Cheese Bubble Milk Tea from Macao Imperial Tea, Kuching. “When they first opened, I wanted to follow the trend by visiting. I ordered the cheese tea at my first time visiting, and I instantly fell in love with the combination of milk tea and cheese on top!”


The 23-year-old first visited the joint last year and would go once or twice a month. But her cravings took a toll as now, she could go as much as two to three times a week, sometimes four to six times a week. “I used to be super cranky with my boyfriend if I can’t have it. Now I can manage not drinking for a day or two.”

“I love cheese and milk tea, but it never crossed my mind to mix both of my favourites together. The masterpiece created an addiction for me!”

Colleen advised those wanting to try the combination to order without ice as it would ruin the cheese flavour once the ice melts.

Whatever it is, the bubble milk tea craze is here to pamper our love for the chewy tapioca pearl balls which can become an obsession to some. And with more joints opening their doors in Sarawak, we are now spoilt for choices and tastes!