Debating Bubble Tea: Toppings vs. No Toppings and Everything In Between

Bubble tea has soared in popularity over the last two decades. And, as with anything popular, that means people have big opinions about it. 

Bubble tea is, by nature, a highly customizable drink. Therefore, several “camps” have emerged to debate the relative merits of various bubble tea orders. Some like it hot, while others need it iced. Some prefer the comforting glow of a classic black tea, while others love the floral aromatic profile of a jasmine or genmaicha. And some people pile as many toppings as possible into their order, while others don’t include any. The debates rage on

In this article, let’s wade into the various discussions surrounding bubble tea. We won’t choose sides (being of the opinion that all bubble tea is great bubble tea). Instead, let’s lay out the facts so you can decide what your perfect bubble tea is. 

Base Camp: Milk Tea, Fruit Tea, Juice, etc. 

If you spend time on bubble tea forums or social media comment sections, you’ll find that one of the biggest topics is “What base do you choose?” 

Broadly, opinions fall into one of five camps: 

  • Milk tea – the classic choice, which can be customized to include various teas and flavourings.
  • Fruit tea – a relatively new invention that pairs tea with the fresh, zippy flavours of tropical fruit. 
  • Fruit juice – a base that includes no tea at all; instead, it’s a refreshing cup of tropical fruit juice. 
  • Smoothies and slushes – The former are whipped drinks that are decadent, comforting and perfectly poised to carry an array of toppings. And the latter are a summertime delight that many people love throughout the year, blending refreshing fruit flavours with crushed ice. 

They’re all delicious. Finding the “perfect” one is a matter of personal guessing and testing. 

Toppings vs. No Toppings

Toppings vs. no toppings is a debate as old as bubble tea. Some purists like the base just the way it is, with no further embellishments needed. Meanwhile, some bubble tea lovers have rightly asked, “If there are no toppings, can you call it bubble tea?”

As above, it’s easy to see both sides of the debate. Bases like fruit tea, smoothies and slushes can feel perfect on their own. But who doesn’t love the added pop of wonder that a topping brings to the equation? Toppings can include the classic tapioca pearls, or popping boba, grass jelly, pudding, QQ and many more. 

The Hot and Cold Debate

Some might not know this, but bubble tea was initially envisioned as an iced drink. When it was invented in Taiwan in the 80s, it was almost exclusively served cold. Still, that doesn’t mean the “hot bubble tea” camp doesn’t make some good points. 

Essentially, the “hot or cold debate” boils down to personal preference. Some people rely on a hot bubble tea to warm them up during the winter months, while others take it iced year-round. 

To Dairy or Not to Dairy

Lastly, there’s the dairy discussion. Again, this isn’t so much a disagreement on which one’s better – rather, it’s a divide between people who love that milky element in their bubble tea, and those who don’t/can’t. 

At its best, bubble tea should be an inclusive drink. If someone doesn’t like or cannot have dairy in their drink, they should be comfortable removing it without feeling like they’re missing anything. That’s why inclusive shops like Chatime Mississauga Dundas offer several dairy-free drinks and the option to substitute dairy for oat milk. Moreover, the brand uses lactose-free and Halal-certified dairy, so everyone can enjoy the beauty of bubble tea. 

That sentiment extends to all of the so-called debates above. Bubble tea is “the people’s drink”; arguing over whether one way is better than another misses the point. As a customizable, inclusive journey, ordering a bubble tea should be about following your heart – not what anyone on the internet says. 

Last Updated on by Icy Canada Team


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