All You Need to Know about the History of Milk Tea

Ah, milk tea. When we’re drinking this amazing drink at home or at the best milk tea place, the refreshing experience we get is incomparable. Thanks big time to the Europeans who were first to try mixing tea and milk. If it wasn’t for them, we could have painted teas as dull, bitter drink forever.

According to Weight Loss Teas, a website that is “dedicated to inform on tea in regards to weight loss and overall health,” the evidences showing the origin of milk tea are insufficient. However, there are some solid proofs that are said to point to when and how milk tea began its journey from Taiwan to across the world.

Are you curious now? Take a quick ride to the past with us and let’s discover the history of milk tea! 

The East Indian Company


16th Century: As part of the Western’s invasion in Asia, England and the Netherlands set up an East Indian Company in which France later involved in. Because of the company, the distinct Asian culture was introduced to the outside world.

The Dutch and English were unaccustomed to the strong flavor of milk teas from India, so they replaced it with a mix of certain kinds of teas and added maple sugar to it. The Dutch used this formula to balance out the bitterness of brewed tea, which other European countries quickly accepted.


The Origin of Taiwanese Milk Tea


history of milk tea: The map of Formosa-Taiwan made by the dutch in 1640

The map of Formosa-Taiwan made by the Dutch in 1640 (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)


July 1604: The Dutch colonized Taiwan. In 1636, Dutch businessmen started to use Taiwan as their location to import their teas to other Asian countries such as India, Iran, India, and Taiwan itself.

During the Japanese colonization of China, the Taiwanese started to plant Japanese Black tea, making their country as the haven of different kinds of teas in the latter years.


The Birth of Bubble Tea


1980’s: During the hype of tea business in the city of Taiwan, there’s one concession owner who became popular when she started adding different varieties of fruit flavors to the teas she sold. Soon after the news had widespread to other concessions, they started to add flavorings to their teas, as well.

1983: Liu Han-Chieh, founder of Tang teahouse in Taichung in Taiwan, first came up with the idea of serving cold Chinese tea after visiting Japan where he saw the Japanese serve cold coffee. He also introduced the mixing of juicy Tapioca Pearls into cold teas. His wife named it “bubble tea” after she saw the layer of foam atop of the drink.


history of milk tea: Lin Hsiu-Hui, the woman behind the Bubble tea Serendipity

Lin Hsiu-Hui, the woman behind the Bubble tea Serendipity in 1988 (Photo courtesy of Derrick Chang of CNN Travel)


1988: Liu Han-Chieh’s product development manager, Lin Hsiu Hui made an incredible serendipity out of her boredom during a business meeting. She intentionally poured her sweetened Tapioca pudding dessert called, Fen Yuan to her Assam tea just for fun and drank it. The drink tasted so delicious that they decided to add it to their menu, and later on became their best-selling product.

Late 1990’s: According to Weight Loss Teas, someone “introduced” an automatic cup-sealing machine for to-go milk tea cups, which many milk tea chain stores implemented, too. Due to their vast participation in serving milk teas, milk tea business was widespread across the world.

1996: Bubble tea business broke out from Hong Kong market and was introduced to Mainland China. There were also milk tea stores that set up in certain countries such as Japan and Canada.


Milk Teas and Bubble Teas Today


20th Century: Aside of the traditional bubble teas, milk teas, and fruit-infused teas that most consumers still enjoy drinking, there are “hybrid” bubble tea and milk tea flavors that different milk tea stores make to attract consumers.

Speaking of new flavors, you might want to explore, check out our Discover page to see our latest milk tea flavors including our Choco Holiday series with Toblerone and some of our limited edition flavors you surely don’t want to miss.

Had fun reading this article on the history of milk tea? Great! Connect with the Philippines’ best milk tea place on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to catch up with our latest news, announcements, and updates.




Sources: My CMS, Bubbleology, Recultured, Cable News Network

Source by Veronica Mendoza

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