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To Izy:


I am Drinking the Little Happiness Milk Tea from THE ALLY today,It has taro, red bean and Bubble in it. Its quite special, lots of different flavour. You recommended this to me.

Actually to prevent from buying the wrong tea.I captured the menu on WeChat to make sure.Hope I didn’t get the wrong one. I dont really drink much Bubble Tea now. Maybe the reason being my second time to experience the bubble tea boom in my life.The first time bubble tea became popular was when I went to primary school. At the late 90s it was at its peak.What I didn’t expect is after 20 years bubble tea become popular again, and it is more popular than ever.


When was bubble tea created? Out of curiosity I started to look on the internet,

I found an old news article on a Taiwan Website(2004):


 According to Ms. Yang Hui Ru, A marketing representative at CHUN SHUI TANG tea franchise, The process of developing foamed black tea began when the owner Mr. Liu Han Jie went to Japan, and noticed the use of the shaker for mixing wine and to make foaming and bubbles to the drink. It is developed to foam tea when Mr. Liu is back to Taiwan. A "bubble black tea" that was different from the normal black tea, so at that time in Tai Zhong  there were a burst of bubble black tea culture from the Shaker cup“¹

Tea Party and Jazz Cafe

So I was surprised, Because I didn’t expect foam tea , the former version of Bubble Tea , relevant to cafe culture in Japan. Coincidentally when I traveled to Kobe Japan last July, I was really into Japanese Kissaten (cafe) at that time. However in Japan I found a lot of young people queuing for Bubble tea, THE ALLY might be the most popular, I have visited a few cities and I saw them every where. When it's flagship store opened in Tokyo it was so hyped up. I saw the bubble tea franchise in Kobe too. They are doing well there.


But instead I visited an old Jazz Kissa ( Cafe ) called Java, one of the oldest existing jazz cafe in Kobe, when I arrived there around 3 to 4 pm, I was the only Customer there, but the Jazz at the cafe is great. I actually ordered a foaming melon juice from them at that time. Jazz is part of Kobe’s Culture, lots of Jazz cafes and bars which might have to do with Kobe’s History.


Haidilao hot pot and Starbucks

The History of Kobe from official Tourist Information Site:

“For a long period of time Japan has closed its country, Until Commodore Perry and Townsend Harris came to Japan. Japan is forced to open its country. After theTreaty of Amity and Commerce Between the United States and the Empire of Japan(1858), Kobe has its Port opened. After the opening of the port ,the now Kitano area was a residence area for foreigners, The western life style from clothing, eating to entertainment are brought to Kobe. It was one of the first city to be overwhelmed by cultural openness and become a international trading city.“²

Kitano now have quite a few re-furbished shops and franchises in the old western buildings, which I saw a famous Chinese Hot pot franchise Haidilao and a antique style Starbucks.


Perry and Peace Amity

From National Museum of American History Youtube channel:

"The Japanese Commissioned various artists to go and document everything they could find about the American ships, things the Americans are bringing, my favourite pictures is the image of the Black Ship, that’s strong. Japanese has never seen steam ships like this, the belching smoke that came out of them, they must have been absolutely amazed. So this is a wonderful image of the ship Perry himself was on. There’s also documentation of musical instruments, the uniforms, hats, weapons…Which don’t look anything like we would probably have drawn our own uniforms. And they are not always accurate. And finally we have wonderful portrait here of Matthew Perry, He’s depicted with his son, but this is the Commodore himself. A man of great dignity, and I thought it might be interesting to show you a lithograph based on a daguerreotype that shows Matthew Perry. It really is a wonderful curious resemblance, the down turn of the mouth, the shape of the nose, bushy eyebrows. And even in this head and shoulder portrait you can get a sense of kind of barrel chested bigness. And this kind of dignified demeanour. So we definitely have the Japanese view point here, but we do get the feeling that this was a remarkable moment of exchange. That really changed commerce on the American side and it made enormous difference on the Japanese side as well."³

From Official Educational Video NHK:

“Commodore Perry required the country to open in 1854, and signed the Convention of Peace and Amity between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan. Two years after that, Townsend Harris came and acquired trading between US and Japan. At this time, China is defeated by France and Britain, And was forced to sign unfair Treaty. Harris threatens the Japanese Bakufu that if they don’t become US’s Allies and start trading with them Japan might be invaded by Britains soon. Treaty of Amity and Commerce Between the United States and the Empire of Japan(1858) Which has 14 agreements were then signed, according to the Treaty, five ports in Japan are opened to US and trading are allowed, in these 14 agreements there are content that are unfavourable to Japan. One of them is Extraterritorial Law, foreigners that committed crime in Japan can not be punished under Japan Law. Another one is Customs Duty, The right to put tariff on imported goods were not included for the Japanese side, Which are both only favourable to the United States."⁴


Ka Hi Cha Kan and Ke Fo Cha Guan

 How did Japanese Kissa ( cafe) Culture started? I found this essay by professor Urano(2015,p3) from Waseda University. Which is about the Kissaten (cafe) culture in Japan, it mentioned the first Kissaten in Japan:


“The beginning of Kissaten shops in Japan can be seen in the Meiji era. The first coffee shop in Japan was the “Ka hi cha kan (Ke Fo Tea House), which opened in the present Ueno in 1888. The owner, Tei Ei Kei ( Zheng Yong Qing), is an intelligent Japanese who not only masters English, Chinese and French,  but also has experience studying in New York. He couldn’t finish study because of being ill. And after thinking about whether to open a school in Japan or not,,he finally opens a cafe shop in a newly built western style building in Tokyo.”⁵


So who is ZHENG YONG QING? According to a Taiwan Blog:

“The first Cafe in Japan, Ke Fo Tea House, The anti Qing pro Ming Dynasty Zheng Cheng Gong ( Koxinga), Has a younger brother in Japan, which has been a translator in Nagasaki through his whole family, Their family plays important roles in Kanji education in Japan. In mid 18th Century, the brother of Zheng Cheng Gong, Zheng Yong Ning, Which is the translator for Japanese Bakufu , noticed the changes to the world, and he realised that not only Chinese, but English and French are both important languages.


Zheng Yong Ning has 3 sons, Zheng Yong Bang, Zheng Yong Chang, Zheng Yong Ning, Zheng Yong Bang attended the signing ceremony of Ma Guan Tiao Yue( The Treaty of Shimonoseki) . Zheng Yong Chang also involved in diplomatic matters. Zheng Yong Qing ( Tei Ei Kei) opened the first coffee shop in 1888 Tokyo, the Ke Fo Cha Guan(Tea House)."⁶


Shimonoseki and Ma Guan


“"In 1895, The first Sino-Japanese war is near to the end, the Japanese Occupied Wei Hai City , Qing Dynasty’s Bei Yang Fleet can not fight anymore, Empress Dowager Cixi send Li Hong Zhang as deputy representative , He arrived at Shimonoseki in the same year march 19th, to meet with the Prime Minister of Japan Ito Hirofumi and started the negotiation. On April 17th, China and Japan officially signed a humiliating treaty, The Ma Guan Tiao Yue, Which the Japanese called Japan-Qing reconciliation Treaty.The Treaty stated Qing have to compensate Japan with 20000 grams of silver and cede territory of Liao Dong, Taiwan and Peng Hu to Japan. Taiwan have left it’s motherland for 50 years. Ma Guan Treaty is the most harsh and unfair Treaty of diplomatic history. Every person of the 400 million population need to pay half gram of silver, which is equal to 3 years of Qing government revenue and 4 years of Japan government revenue.“⁷ 

"(The news paper stated) If we don’t win over the Qing Dynasty we can not win over those that are bigger than Qing. Which means Japan have to be ready and prepared to be not defeated by those strong European Countries staring at Qing’s back.The paper strongly condemned the failure of Japanese Diplomatic moves. The government are condemned notoriously by its citizens of returning some part of lands to China. The Minister for Foreign Affairs Mutsu Munemitsu has written his documentation in KenKen Roku, stating people are upset with Japan's diplomacy: the victory of our war has lost its leverage over bad diplomacy, those voices of upset ness have spread around and has not stop yet till now. The first big test for modern Japan's diplomacy, the Shimonoseki Reconciliation Conference. At this time Japan failed to estimate the complicated international relations, and have tasted its bitter consequences. This failure has become a great lesson for the Meiji era Japan and its foreign affairs."⁸

"340 years ago, on April 30, 1661, Koxinga lead armed forces ashore to Luerhmen, Tainan, and besieged the Dutch for nine months, and then forced them out of Taiwan, which they had ruled for 38 years. Koxinga wanted to use Taiwan as a base for his resistance against the Qing empire, but in 1662, he suddenly fell ill and died, and his kingdom of Tung-ning was inherited by his son, Zheng Qing, and then by the third generation, his grandson, Zheng Keshuang, who was defeated and overthrown in 1683 by a Qing general named Shi Lang. Although Koxinga’s time in Taiwanwas short, he left behind many stories and legends.

Zheng Cheng gong’s (1624-1662) hometown was Nan’an ,in Quan zhou, Fujian, and his father, Zheng Zhi long(1600-1661) was a maritime merchant and pirate, who in 1622 came to Pei kang in Taiwan with Yan Siqi, and often went to Hirato in Japan to trade. As a consequence of this last connection, he married a Japanese woman by the name of Tamura Matsu. In 1624,Zheng Chenggong’ was born. The coastal area where he was born still has a relic called the “child birth stone.” Zheng Cheng gong”s mother, Tamura, raised him on her own until he was seven, and had great influence on the development of his personality.In 1630, Zheng Zhi long took him back to Nan’an for his education. Because women were forbidden from leaving Japan, Tamura was unable to accompany him. Zheng Zhi long engaged Confucian scholars to educateZheng Cheng gong, so that he might be able to pass the imperial examinations"⁹ 

I am surprised that Zheng Cheng Gong(Kongxinga), a famous pirate, that has some complicated ethnicity backgrounds, are well beloved in Mainland China, Taiwan and Japan at the same time, you rarely find a figure like that. I guess he is the anthropomorphised version of bubble tea in some way.


So the calories of Bubble Tea are actually quite high, that's probably why I am not drinking them a lot , If I google Bubble Tea Nutrition. The results are all about the high calories and high in sugar level, and articles or photos about how easy to gain weight from it. However I found an article that is quite interesting, It looks like a post from a Singapore nutritionist on Facebook, its a news article that they has an annotation that says “Chinese News Paper, April 3rd 2016, Saturday” The head line is “Condensed milk suppress sperm activity, bubble tea can cause infertility”


The irony about this is, when I was researching about bubble tea I found out that Bubble Tea has another name, Boba Tea:


“In 1988, Tainan, A open shop called grasshopper’s owner got inspiration from sexy icon Ye Zi Mei, and renamed the Bubble tea to Boba(meaning big breasts) Tea, Gradually in South Taiwan, Boba became the name for Big bubble and Zhen Zhu (Pearl) means small bubble, After more southern Teashop opens in northern Taiwan, Boba are accepted by Taiwan people”¹⁰


When I was trying to find information about the calories of the bubble tea I am drinking, something Interesting happened, I found a couple of “official website” of The Ally Tea, quite a few of them in simplified Chinese, also some in Traditional Chinese that I could recall.

But what I remembered the most is there are two Chinese “The Ally” websites that looked quite similar, I couldn’t be sure which one is the real one, But the web site I am leaning towards being the real one, has a disclaimer that states there are quite a few counterfeit stores and even some are in New Zealand. So I cant tell if I am drinking the real one or not now.




1. Liao, Hong Ying. 2004. "挑動味蕾 台中珍奶等你來嘗鮮" Enews, accessed May 10, 2020.

2.Feel Kobe. 2020. "神戸の歴史" Feel Kobe, accessed May10, 2020.

3.National Museum of American History. 2015. “Founding Fragments - Commodore Perry” YouTube video, 2:20. Posted February  26.

4. NHK. No Date. "日米修好通商条約" Embeded Video. No Date.

​5.Urano, Masaki. 2015. "東京・喫茶店の社会史" Waseda, accessed May10, 2020..日本+喫茶店+歴史%27.

6.Jiang Chao Feng Zong Zu. 2016. "可否茶館" nicecasio , accessed May 10, 2020.

7.Anec. Evan. 2014. “堂々日本史 日清戦争と下関会議” YouTube video, 41:30. Posted March  1.

​8. Tsao, Hsi. 2015. "馬關條約與春帆樓" Youtube video, 00:00. Posted September 8.

9.Tai, Pao-tsun. 2001. "Koxinga: History and the legends" TWcentre, accessed May 10, 2020.

10.Tan, Daphine. 2017. "Posted on 2017.7.1" Facebook, accessed May 10, 2020.

11.No Name. No Date."歷史-珍珠奶茶" lsy04090210, accessed May 10, 2020.




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