The New Strength Of Taiwanese Bubble Tea

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

“The concept of handmade boba (tapioca pearls) means that clients are guaranteed flexible choices, allowing us to create strong bonds with customers in the bubble tea industry,” says Mindy Jen, representative of Empire Eagle Food, Taiwan.


The Taiwan tea industry is known for its diversity, with a history dating back 400 years. Although only a small area of Taiwan is set aside for tea planting, the tea plantation area has increased tremendously over the past 20 years. For example, Nantou County accounted for more than half of the total tea production in Taiwan, and the proportion has continued to rise. Nantou County is famous for producing Lugu Tung-ting Tea and Ruby Black Tea.

It is noteworthy that although the output of Taiwan tea—or refined tea—has decreased by 35 percent, output value has grown to 140 percent since 1991, indicating that Taiwan tea is gradually moving toward to higher unit prices. The main channel is the domestic sales through the bubble tea beverage market, which is used for export. Significantly, most Taiwanese tea is exported to the United States.

Empire Eagle Food is a well-known supplier of bubble milk tea materials in Taiwan, and is a leading exporter in the Taiwan tea industry. For 15 years, it has been making continuous effort to promote Taiwan tea exporting channels. However, Taiwan tea has a high price and finite supply limit, and therefore, faces many difficulties in the global market.

“We know very well that Taiwan tea has a great potential in the world tea market. We catch on the market trend and sincerely want to bring Taiwan tea to the world stage,” says James Tseng, Chief Executive Officer of Empire Eagle Food.


A Firm Grasp On Tea-Making  

The tea-making process includes outdoor withering, tossing, lay leaf, fixation, fermentation, tea rolling, tea firing and so on. Each procedure is the experience and inheritance of tea masters for many years. In order to make a stable quality tea, it is usual and possible for a Taiwanese tea master to sleep only three or four hours a day, because of the fluctuating weather in Taiwan. Therefore, most of the tea makers who live at high altitude own family businesses because the baton of priceless tea-making technology and experience is only passed within the family.

However, after years of Nantou tea farm’s efforts by the Taiwanese tea masters to produce tea with advanced cultivation techniques, production was officially quantified and used in the bubble tea commercial channel. Additionally, Empire Eagle Food has been in contract with Nantou tea farms since 2017, striking a balance between commercial supply and price.


The Secret Behind The Perfect Boba

The current tapioca ball on the market is mainly composed of starch and tapioca powder. They are formed into starch balls with diameters ranging from 5 to 10 mm; water, flavouring, and preservatives are added in accordance with the national food import regulations to facilitate international transport and preservation. Thus, their colours and tastes differ according to compositions.

A few decades ago, the colour of the tapioca ball was only white. However, now, black tapioca balls are more common (also known as the tapioca pearl). The black colour comes from caramel colouring and flavouring, in order to increase the sweetness of the brown sugar, thus earning praises from customers for its sweet taste.

The handmade boba of Empire Eagle Food is similar in composition to the general tapioca ball. They are also made from tapioca starch. However, the biggest difference is the production method. Traditional tapioca balls are made of cylindrical rolling machinery, allowing the powder to form a ball—similar to the traditional Chinese method of making glutinous rice balls, or tangyuan. However, the handmade boba of Empire Eagle Food is the first to be made using tapioca starch in dough format. Further, a new, self-developed handmade boba machine is used to cut and reshape the mould.

During production, the specialised boba machine ensures the size consistency of tapioca balls. At present, the machine occupies the smallest volume, with the highest capacity and precision in the bubble tea industry. It can produce about 100 kg per hour, equivalent to approximately one tonne a day. As such, Empire Eagle Food has brought brand-new and flexible options into pearl milk tea market. The concept of handmade boba actually means that clients are guaranteed flexible choices, allowing Empire Eagle Food the freedom to create strong bonds with customers in the bubble tea industry.


The Future Of Clean Boba Production

Tapioca has played a very important role in the past 20 years of bubble tea’s history. In the past, only white or caramel coloured tapioca were available. However, the limited market led customers to crave and demand for more visual varieties of beverages. Answering this demand, Empire Eagle Food’s handmade boba powder has no added additives, using only tapioca starch and the diversity of colours among traditional tapioca.

Empire Eagle Food’s handmade boba colours are extracted from a variety of different natural fruits—such as pitaya, beetroot, carrot, pandan, matcha powder, and so on. The 100 percent natural fruit and vegetable colours change the colours of tapioca, allowing customers to indulge in their bubble milk tea empire.


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