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Taiwanese bubble tea featured on Japan’s college entrance exam

Taiwan’s signature beverage took Japan by storm, with 300 shops opening in Tokyo in 2019

(Twitter, @slnn0, Facebook, @gongcha.japan photos)

(Twitter, @slnn0, Facebook, @gongcha.japan photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s iconic beverage, bubble tea, was featured in Japan’s university entrance exam questions this year following that country's recent craze for the drink.

A geography section of the entrance exam is devoted to bubble milk tea, including both an introduction to its Taiwanese origin and the method by which it is made. The drink, which contains tapioca balls and comes in a wide variety of flavors, is popular in Japan and many other places around the world, according to the description.

Students are required to answer questions about the source countries of the tea’s three main ingredients — tapioca, sugar, and tea leaves, wrote CNA. The fact that this topic was included in the test reflects Taiwan's cultural influence on Japan.

Japan’s fascination with bubble tea reached a peak in 2019, when Tokyo alone saw over 300 shops selling the beverage sprout up. Trade data suggests the volume of tapioca Japan imported in 2019 quintupled compared to the previous year, reported UDN.

The bubble burst last year, however, with Taiwanese tea shops such as COMEBUY and KOI Thé shuttering many outlets in the Japanese capital, possibly due to market saturation and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the report said.

In October of 2020, representatives from leading handmade tea brands in Taiwan gathered to discuss how the country’s signature tea products can be reinvented to survive in the post-COVID era. Solutions included adapting to Japanese tastes while retaining Taiwanese elements, according to Business Next.