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8 things you might not know about bubble tea, and other unexpected holidays this week

Bubble tea, otherwise known as boba tea, was created in Taiwan in the late 1980s and exploded in popularity around the world over the last dozen years. Getty Images / Special to The Forum

When generations of people all over the world from England to Asia sit down for their daily cup of tea, most likely being able to chew it wouldn't be considered a selling point. But over the last 25 years or so, tea that you can really sink your teeth into has become all the rage.

Tuesday, April 30, is Bubble Tea Day — a time to celebrate its greatness with the millions who drink it like water and a time to teach bubble tea novices what they might be missing.

What is bubble tea?

Bubble tea is tea, usually served cold, mixed with milk or fruit and topped off with chewy tapioca balls, otherwise known as bobas or pearls.

What's in a name?

Bubble tea is also known as pearl milk tea, boba milk tea or just boba. Contrary to popular opinion, the name "bubble" is not related to the bobas, but comes from the bubble foam produced by shaking the drink.

An '80s creation

According to OC Weekly, bubble tea was invented in 1988 by Lin Hsiu Hui, an employee of a Taiwanese tea house, when she decided to pour her tapioca dessert into her iced tea. Its popularity spread to the rest of the world through the '90s and 2000s.

What exactly are bobas?

Bobas, which settle at the bottom of your drink, are made from tapioca, a starch extracted from the root of a cassava plant native to South America. The texture is kind of like a gummy bear.

Is it healthy?

Well, yes and no. The average cup of bubble tea contains as much as 55 grams of sugar (more than a can of Coke) and 340 calories. But because the teas can be mixed with fruit, you are getting some health benefits. Moderation is key. For a healthy option, consider an unsweetened matcha (green tea) bubble tea made with almond milk.

What are some popular flavors?

The sky's the limit with bubble teas. According to Tealovers.com, the two safest flavors for novices to try are classic milk tea with tapioca pearls and fruit iced tea, which contains flavors like mango, kiwi or passion fruit. You might also want to try taro, coconut, Thai or even popcorn tea made from green tea and toasted rice.

How much does it cost?

Prices vary, but a 16- to 20-ounce serving of bubble tea will usually cost about $3 to $5.

Other holidays this week:

  • Monday, April 29: Shrimp Scampi Day
  • Tuesday, April 30: Hairstylist Appreciation Day
  • Wednesday, May 1: May Day
  • Thursday, May 2: Truffle Day
  • Friday, May 3: Specially Abled Day Pets Day
  • Saturday, May 4: Star Wars Day
  • Sunday, May 5: Cinco de Mayo Day

The Monday Mark is a look at unexpected holidays coming up this week. Have an idea for a weird holiday to feature? Contact reporter and “The Scoop” host Tracy Briggs at 701-451-5632 or tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com.