Before the super typhoon Nepartak hit Taiwan last week, people on the internet had been betting whether Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport would flood again. They didn’t bet with money, but with a popular Taiwanese beverage: bubble tea.
Lai Wei-Da(賴韋達), a regular Facebook user, posted a giveaway contest in a private Facebook group claiming that “if the airport doesn’t flood this week, I will buy everyone bubble tea.” Another person created a Facebook event for it and asked people to specify their orders in the event page.
Invented in Taiwan, bubble tea, also known as boba milk tea or pearl milk tea, is a mixture of tea and milk with chewy tapioca balls (the bubbles) added. A cup of bubble tea costs about 40 New Taiwan Dollars ($1.24) in Taiwan and about $5 in the U.S. It’s often served over ice with varying amounts of sugar.
In less than 24 hours, 200,000 people detailed their ideal ice and sugar combination on the event page, causing the page to shut down, and in the process relieving the original Facebook user of buying all that tea.
Luckily, another website tracked the comments, answering a pressing question surrounding this popular beverage: What ice and sugar combination do most people like for their bubble tea?
Bubble tea with the glass three-quarters full of ice and with half sugar (full sugar is 2 grams in a large cup and 1.5 gram in a medium cup, according to Kung Fu Tea) topped other combinations, with 47,621 orders or 22.7%. The second favorite order was no ice and half sugar, which had 36,885 orders. More than 78% of people prefer half sugar or less. Only 17% of people drink full sugar, based on their selections here.
Giveaway contests, or so-called “oblation posts” in Mandarin, are all the rage these days in Taiwan. People have also offered chicken cutlets and braised dishes as a reward if the airport doesn’t flood.