On January 29, 2020, the popularity of boba tea reached its peak and was officially announced as a new emoji. One of the boba tea’s main distinguishing ingredients is tapioca balls. Boba tea, also known as bubble tea or pearl milk tea, is a popular milk tea drink with a layer of shaved ice and tapioca balls or pearls on the bottom. Tapioca is a starch from the roots of the cassava plant that has become a staple food for many people in tropical regions. The origins of the drink are debated, but it is known to have been first popularized in Taiwan in the 1980s. This type of milk tea eventually became a global sensation over the last few decades, reaching several countries not just in Asia, but also in Europe and North America. From Honeydew to matcha, several pop-up stores and cafes serve boba tea, experimenting with different flavors and add-ons. In celebration of its popularity and in time for the anniversary of boba tea’s emoji debut, Google has released an interactive doodle featuring a dog making and serving bubble tea to customers. When clicked, users are directed to a mini activity where they are guided through the step-by-step process of making the famous bubble tea. In the Philippines, boba tea is also gaining popularity among the younger generations, marked by the popping up of several stores across the country. Even before the popularity of the milk tea drink, cassava also became a staple source of carbohydrates for many Filipinos, especially as an alternative to rice. Some farmers from the Tapioca Growers Association (ITGA) share that growing cassava is also becoming more profitable than corn, especially with the vast food and manufacturing opportunities from the starch derived from the plant. Read: Cassava More Profitable than Corn The Philippines also has a native tapioca called landang, which can be derived from the trunk of the buri palm (Corypha elata). Unlike the typical tapioca balls, those made from landang has a lumpy and unusual texture. Landang is also a popular ingredient in traditional dishes like binignit and kinugay. Read: Philippine gems: Some endangered native ingredients that you need to know and protect As the world celebrates the tasty boba tea, it is also equally important to appreciate its origins, farmers who made it possible for millions of people to enjoy their milk tea with tapioca balls.
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