Noah, Marcus Matthew and Fadilla have decided to research bubble tea cultures after the realisation that the craze for it was growing so rapidly, that it had truly become a curious subject.

We have members that have previous exposure and members that have none, and so we split the project to give us a chance to analyse ourselves, and how we view it as both outsiders and insiders to the bubble tea community. We then brought this comparison and recorded our epiphanies.

We approached a digital artefact of youtube videos and sound-cloud podcasts, of us interacting with bubble tea and sharing our experiences. This follows with Ellis et al’s (2011) argument that important qualities of good auto ethnography includes firstly approaching a field site, then documenting the experiences and observations, and gathering epiphanies.

DA: https://aglassofbubbletea.wordpress.com

finally spilling the tea.

by Marcus Lazarevski.

Below is a quick podcast style audio journal entry detailing my first experience of trying the craze that is Bubble Tea.

By finally giving in to the hype surrounding Bubble Tea, I have now established an thorough understanding of what all the fuss is about. I could also say I have developed a better connection to Asian culture and cuisine through this entire experience.

As spoken about throughout my recording, there is no doubt the bubble tea trend is exploding across the world, especially with younger females in particular. Myself being a bit older, I found it interesting yet not something that makes me want to go out of my way to purchase or indulge in. It may however be different for other individuals.

Mathew and Fadilla, two of the other members of our group, have previous experience with bubble tea, where as Noah and I had none at all. After Noah and I paired with Mathew and Fadilla, we were all intrigued and knew straight away we wanted to talk about this topic.

Drinking bubble tea for the first time was overall a positive experience for myself. The flavour and the unique experience of the tea were definitely stand outs. The service however was the only let down that I identified over the entire process.

Regardless of all this, I’m excited for the next time I choose to drink Bubble Tea, whenever that may be.

making homemade bubble tea.

by Matthew Favaloro and Fadilla Saniputri, research post by Matthew.

In the video above, we tried to make our favourite bubble tea that is recently trending allover the world: Tiger Brown Sugar Bubble Tea.

We read a recipe and tried to make it all through memory without constantly looking at the recipe, and filmed this experience. Fortunately, it was a success. It tasted very similar and more beneficially, we were able to add our own kind of milk.

The process of learning how to make bubble tea, was thoroughly enjoyable and rather simple. 

I grew up being isolated from any varied culture, so I would never have looked twice at a bubble tea stall and never would have ventured to explore such a strange drink. Bubble tea used to appear to me as an Asian ‘bizarreness’, something that I used to not wish to get to know any further. This is mostly due to my upbringing and my segregated culture knowledge. I’m sure my parents, for instance, would view the drink the same way I did and feel it would be too strange for them. 

But through recent exposure to more cultures, I have become far more frequent with looking for a sweet milk drink. This may be due to making it myself, and breaking the drink down to its raw materials. 

The first time I bought the pearls to try cooking them myself, I was surprised with how tough and ‘un-squishy’ they were. If you squeezed them, they would turn to dust. This really was quite different to how it felt when you chew on them after they’ve been boiled in water.

After biting down on the tapioca pearls, you will be surprised at its soft, squishy but still a little chewy texture. This experience is strange for everyone who is trying it for the first time and I had the same feeling with my first time. I remember not being entirely sure if I liked them at all at first consumption, because I was drinking this drink for refreshment, not amusement or a snack. I was put off by them blocking the straw for a second to give me something bland instead of sweet like the drink, but it really was a thing of amusement. I then seemed to look for the pearls, just to chew on them and enjoy their texture throughout my drink. I have now reached a stage where I’m sad when I have eaten all of the pearls and still have tea left over.

Furthermore, the interviewing process really opened my eyes to some of the strange differences that the two cultures have. These kinds of things which they observed from their work, were interesting and has made me very self-conscious about what I order now, and it will make me watch other people closer to see the trends which they mentioned. 

I now question why it can be looked over, as it has such variety and can be suited to fit a lot of people’s personal tastes I would say.

popping my tapioca pearl.

by Noah Anderson.

A short podcast detailing my initial thoughts, prior misconceptions, my first experience ordering and drinking the tea and my final comments on the phenomena, as both a drink and as a whole i.e. the craze, the media, the popularity.

On reflection, from my first experience with bubble tea i now see i have developed a better understanding and i guess you could say connection to the phenomena. It’s hard to ignore the growth in popularity the drink is undergoing, and as spoken in my podcast the drink as an object is easily recognisable and the craze surrounding the young female demographic (though not limited to) is something that is prominent within the bubble tea space. I am inclined to believe that such a drink is both popular but normal within taiwanese and other asian cultures, therefore fair to say that it is comparable to boost juice in my own demographic. Boost is a very common refreshment that originated in Australia and is now a multi-billion dollar franchise. My friends, family and surrounding group are both highly familiar with juice and enjoy it unanimously. When speaking to Fadilla and Matt who are quite used to and enjoy Bubble Tea, it became known that this environment is replicated very similarly in an asian context.

This i find interesting and cool and upon reflection, does seem obvious that this would be the case, but being an outsider looking in, i never found myself the reason or incentive to notice such things.

My own experience with Bubble Tea was positive in regards to flavour, service and experience. The stall was as clean if not more so than it’s competitor in boost juice and the employees were just as friendly and welcoming. As a customer these factors influence the experience and although i identified the particularly slow process of making the bubble tea, this was something that did not deter me in any way. Something that did deter me though was the price. As i stated in the podcast, for the product i payed for although nice, was not worth the $8+ it cost. This i admit may be due to my safe choice of chocolate milk bubble tea, though nevertheless with mix ins the price will begin to rocket further, no matter the flavour.

As a phenomenon in the media and as a fad, i can see the attractiveness of the drink, particularly the tapioca pearls as they do make the drinks more enticing and fun for the younger demographic. Me being a bit older, i don’t quite subscribe to the “fun” of the pearls, noting that after trying them i was even less intrigued by the mix ins. If such a stigma exists against bubble tea labelling it as stupid or a novelty experience, i can safely say these aren’t wholly justified as it is comparable to Boost naming their juices such things as Mango Magic or Banana Buzz. When i say “these aren’t wholly justified”  i say this because of the fact that there are a couple cases concerning excessive amounts of tapioca pearls being stuck in the stomachs of young girls. This is a very worthy deterrent and one that i know affected the way i felt when trying the pearls in my friends drink.

I think when being critical of the bubble tea and such things as the youtube videos it has spurred; with girls bathing in the tapioca pearls etc. it is extremely important not to dismiss it as stupid or weird, as i know that there are an abundance of videos that fit well into the same realm of oddity, but being from my own background or others.

the culture of bubble tea.

by Matthew Favaloro and Fadilla Saniputri, research post by Fadilla.

Bubble tea is a drink that is now world-widely known but it’s roots are in Taiwan. Many people are involved in the evolving popularity of the drink – whether it be local or global.

In conclusion, the video above discusses Assad Khan as a global contributor via his bubble tea shop, ‘Bubbleology’ and listens to the Asian workers in Australia compare how people are drinking bubble tea in Australia and back in their home country.

We approached interactive interviews for more information, and to ‘illustrate how a community manifests particular social/cultural issue.’ [Ellis et al, 2011] The ability for us to intimately understand people’s experiences and collaborate further with the participants on the culture of bubble tea, made us feel like we were also becoming a bigger part of this ‘community’ (as we even ordered bubble tea from them beforehand). Being able to interview these workers within the bubble tea field site setting truly brought out stories that were beneficial to our research encounter. Additionally, interviewing the worker was more ideal than a customer, as it allowed us to view the whole community (both the foreigners and the locals) through the one worker who interacts with them all.

Below is an in-depth short collection of interviews.

After having this conversation, we were further provoked to see how we (as different cultural beings) were responding to bubble tea, ourselves. Matthew Favaloro, as a Tamworth-born Australian male, and I, an Indonesian-born female, have also had our different exposures to it.

Interestingly enough, with our friendship, we have now got a more similar view toward bubble tea than we both used to when we were younger. We have both fell victim to the delicious ‘Tiger Sugar Fresh Milk’!

After the interview and analysing ourselves and our initial responses toward bubble tea, we both discovered that many people may be introduced to bubble tea differently but may now be reunited at a similar point where they currently experience the concept of drinking bubble tea the same.

We found that collaboratively conducting the interview and discussion of the local and global (insider and outsider) responses together, with two members of society that are actually singular parts of the different categories, we were able to fully teach each other about the other side. For example, Matthew (local) told me (global) that his family’s lack of exposure to bubble tea may cause them to never end up trying bubble tea, whilst he was exposed to it when he began to work in Sydney. It gave me an epiphany that asian people like me, were prematurely exposed to the drink but if any Australians know about it, it’s mostly due to exposure. I was even happier when I realised Australians tend to be widening their knowledge, as different members of society are investing in all the different services and products from allover the world. Because, in my eyes, the asian people in Australia are equally invested in learning about different things in the Asian culture – such as trying Boost or Vegemite.

This layered account auto ethnography I have written in this post, is a data collection that has presented a ‘source of questions and comparisons’ [Charmaz, cited by Ellis et all. 2011] and showcases a simultaneous report of data processing and research, with the additional comments on how these new information have impact on me.

PRESENTATION: https://prezi.com/view/Sz6uRpEdSZSaUQmFQE1F/

KARPINSKI, R. (2011) ‘Beyond the bubble (tea)’, Entrepreneur, 39(10), pp. 128–133. Available at: https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=65789580&site=eds-live (Accessed: 18 October 2019).
Ducci, M. ( 1 ) and Syskowski, S. (no date) ‘An aesthetic foray into chemistry: Chemical reactions in bubble tea balls’, Chemie in Unserer Zeit, 52(6), pp. 390–397. doi: 10.1002/ciuz.201800805
Jennings, R. (2017) ‘Taiwan Flies South’, Forbes Asia, 13(8), p. 012. Available at: https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=125471816&site=eds-live (Accessed: 19 October 2019).

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