When walking around outside, you will find there are many babble tea shops nowadays. The number of bubble tea stores is increasing and they are also available in convenience stores as well. That mysterious food has been booming in Japan for several years now, and still a lot of people make a long line for that cup of tea. This time, we’re going to explore this mysterious black food, tapioca and why it is so popular in Japan.
What is tapioca?
The main ingredient of tapioca is cassava, one sort of potato, and tapioca is a starch made from cassava’s rhizome. The shape of tapioca we often see is round, and it’s called tapioca pearl. Gelatinized tapioca is shaped round and being dried after that. This is how the pearl is made. You may know a black one like the picture above, but actually, tapioca is transparent food. Usually, caramel or brown sugar is used to color it black. By the way, do you know the origin of its name? It’s derived from “tipi’óka” which is a word of Tupi language spoken by the original inhabitants of Brazil. Tipi’óka means the method of making tapioca.
Why Tapioka got so much popular in Japan?
Young people especially are addicted to bubble tea and nowadays, they use word “タピる (tapiru)” which describes the habit of going to buy the tapioka drink (タピ comes from tapioca and る comes from ～する which means, do something). Now, we need to clear out the reason why this round mysterious thing got so popular.
⑴ Suits Japanese people’s taste
Bubble tea is made with tapioca and Asian taste tea. Both of them really suit Japanese people’s taste. First, as mentioned above, tapioca is flavored with brown sugar, which is Japanese people’s favorite taste. Besides that, they love the chewy texture of it (its texture is similar to rice cakes, traditional Japanese food). Tea is also an important factor of bubble tea’s popularity. Currently, we can enjoy so many flavors of bubble tea such as milk tea one, oolong tea one, matcha one… Those not-so-sweet tea really hits Japanese people’s tastes.
⑵ Influence of SNS
Young people nowadays in Japan love Instagrammable things, and they’re making a big effort to upload GREAT pictures to get “likes”. Bubble tea hit their Instagrammable mind. They fell in love with its cute round shape, colorful drink, and stylish drink container. How Instagrammable! There’re over 2 million hush tags about tapioca on Instagram and all of the pictures are really lovely. Those pictures make young people want to drink the tea, that they go to the tapioka drink shops, and upload pictures. People see the uploaded pictures and they go to shops, upload pictures… This cycle made the tapioca an incredible drink culture among the young Japanese.
This big tapioca boom seems to continue for a while. Hot bubble tea is also available, so why not drink and warm your body?
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