How bubble tea got its bubbles ⏲️ 6 Minute English

106,334 views ・ 2024-05-23

BBC Learning English


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Hello. This is 6 Minute English from
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BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.
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And I'm Beth.
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Are you a tea or coffee drinker, Neil?
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Well, I usually drink a cup of coffee in the morning.
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How about you, Beth?
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I'm definitely a tea drinker.
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There's nothing like a good cuppa to start the day.
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Yes, a cuppa -
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it's a word in British English meaning a cup of tea, right?
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But there are many different types of tea, which tea
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do you like?
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Well, I usually drink English breakfast tea in the morning and then a matcha
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tea at lunch and then maybe a calming herbal tea before bed.
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Wow! It sounds like you're a real tea addict, Beth,
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so you'll love this programme because we are discussing
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an exciting drink called bubble tea. And, as usual,
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we'll be learning some useful new vocabulary as well.
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Great. But first, I have a question for you, Neil.
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Today, British supermarkets sell almost twice as much coffee as
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tea and consumer surveys have found that a majority of Brits
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prefer drinking coffee.
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So, what proportion of Brits do you think, still regularly drink tea.
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Is it a) 39%,
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b) 49% or c) 59%?
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Well, let me think about that. I'm going to say b) 49%.
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OK Neil. I will reveal the answer at the end of the programme.
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People have been drinking tea for centuries,
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but that doesn't mean, tea drinking hasn't changed over the years. Here
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in Britain, new trends such as iced tea and green matcha tea
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have become as popular as the traditional English cuppa
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which, as everyone knows, is black tea with a splash of milk.
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One of the latest tea trends is pearl milk tea,
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also called bubble tea,
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but if you've never heard of it, don't worry -
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here's presenter Ben Henderson,
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explaining more for BBC
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World Service programme 'Witness history':
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For those who don't know,
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pearl milk tea or bubble tea is tea usually mixed with milk,
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crushed ice and filled with its signature
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chewy tapioca balls. But customers can then add whatever flavours
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they want. It's innovative and exciting.
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Pearl milk tea or bubble tea as it's often called,
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was invented in 1987 by Taiwanese teashop owner, Liu
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Han-Chieh. The 'bubbles' in a glass of bubble tea are made from balls
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of a chewy starch called tapioca. Food which is chewy needs
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to be chewed a lot before it becomes soft enough to swallow.
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It's these tapioca balls which give bubble tea its name.
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You might say they're bubble tea's signature ingredient -
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They're a special feature
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for which something is particularly known. For example,
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paella is the signature dish of Spain.
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What's more, because tapioca doesn't have a strong taste,
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different flavours can be added,
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making bubble tea an innovative, meaning new and original, drink.
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Liu Han-Chieh's invention was inspired by a trip to Japan,
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where he saw people enjoy an iced milk tea on a hot summer's day.
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When he added tapioca balls, which he found in a local market
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on his return to Taiwan, the bubbly new beverage was born.
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But it was only when famous international celebrities,
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including basketball player Michael Jordan and movie star Jackie Chan
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started visiting his tea shop that Liu Han-Chieh's
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bubble tea began a revolution in the tea-drinking world. Here is Liu Han-Chieh
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telling more to BBC World Service Programme
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'Witness History':
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Pearl milk tea got huge media coverage and it spread like wildfire.
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But I always say we have many other products and the reason pearl milk
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tea became so popular was pure luck. It was a miracle.
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Thanks to its celebrity fans,
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Liu Han Chieh's
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bubble tea became an international bestseller and news
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of his exciting new drink spread like wildfire - an idiom meaning
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it became quickly known by many people. As more and more people tried it
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and fell in love with its smooth chewy taste,
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bubble tea spread to neighbouring countries like South Korea and China
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and then to the rest of the world. For Liu Han-Chieh,
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it was a miracle -
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a very lucky event that is surprising and unexpected.
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It's great to hear about something that gives a modern twist to a drink
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that's part of a country's traditional culture.
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Maybe that's what we need here in Britain, too.
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Yes, your question was about the fact
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that nowadays more people in Britain prefer coffee than tea.
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I think it is time you revealed the answer.
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Right, I asked you what percent of Brits still regularly prefer drinking tea
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over coffee and you said 49%, which was... the wrong answer
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I'm afraid, Neil!
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In fact, around 59% of Brits still regularly drink tea.
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Maybe it's time for a bubble
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tea revolution over here.
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OK, let's recap the vocabulary
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we've learnt in this programme, starting with cuppa -
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an informal word in British English for a cup of tea.
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The word signature describes a special feature
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for which something is particularly known.
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It's chewy - it needs to be chewed a lot before it soft enough to swallow.
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The adjective 'innovative' means new and original.
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If something spreads like wildfire,
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it becomes quickly known by more and more people.
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And finally, a miracle is a very lucky event that is surprising and unexpected.
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Once again, our six minutes are up
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but remember to join us again next time
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for more topical discussion and useful vocabulary here at 6 Minute
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06:03
English. Goodbye for now.
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Bye!
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