Boba or bubble tea has become synonymous (in Asian American circles) with hangouts and good times. As a self-proclaimed boba connoisseur, I knew I wanted to explore the tradition of bubble tea from history to production. When I found out that the drink had its origins in Taiwan, I knew I needed to learn more.
According to many sources, boba drinks first started in Taichung at the original Chun Shui Tang (春水堂 / chun shui tang) in 1988 after Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui poured her tapioca balls (粉園 / fen yuan) into her assam iced tea at a meeting. The drink was a hit amongst her peers and quickly outsold many of the other drinks at the restaurant.
From the outside, you wouldn’t know that this store is the first bubble tea shop that started it all.
The front of the entrance is wooden and looks almost like an entrance to a temple.
Outside there is also a fun, larger than life version of their famous bubble tea with tapioca.
Unlike so many boba drinks out there, the drink is served in a glass cup. The glass reminded me of those used to serve milk shakes.
The original drink is frothy with lots of bubbles percolating to the top. The milk tea is probably some of the best I’ve ever had. The pearls or tapioca are just the right consistency and come in two different sizes for varied texture.
The shop also features items for sale, that you can bring back home as gifts. We picked up a few postcards to commemorate our visit to the original boba shop. The restaurant also has a wide variety of meals for purchase.
On a separate occasion, I enjoyed one of the set meals that they have. Everything has been amazing at Chun Shui Tang, from the ambiance to the amazing flavor of the food.
If you’re still looking to take the pilgrimage and retrace the origin of boba tea, you’ll want to visit the original store (春水堂 四維創始店 / chun shui tang si wei chuang shi dian) located near downtown Taichung. Nowadays, though, Chun Shui Tang can be found all along the western coast of Taiwan, from Taipei to Kaohsiung.
If you find yourself in Taichung and love bubble tea, don’t forget to make the pilgrimage and stop by the birthplace of boba, Chun Shui Tang.