I always found myself in so-called “celebrity famous” situations while growing up as an Asian Australian in Asia. When I was seven, I went to a private primary school in Malaysia. Half of my classmates were Chinese-Malaysian. The other half were Caucasian, their parents expatriates hailing from the States and Australia. Everyone was fluent in English and we all understood one another even though we spoke with different accents.
When there are so many pairs of eyes on you, sometimes you feel famous. But sometimes this is just unwanted attention. Photo: Mabel Kwong
I was Miss Popular among my Chinese classmates. Popular not because I had a blemish-free, pale Asian face, the funkiest hair accessories or a Gameboy, or was one of the high achievers in class, but because I was from Australia.
I was popular because I was Australian. Not Chinese-Australian, but just Australian.
Bubble tea stores have mushroomed all around Australia over the last few years. Melbourne’s Swanston Street in the CBD is peppered with bubble tea franchises such as ChaTime, EasyWay and Gong Cha. Whenever I pass by these stores, I often see hordes of people, mostly Asians, queuing up here and waiting for their drinks.
Tons of my Australia-based and international student friends from Malaysia and Singapore are absolutely ga-ga over bubble tea and consume it at least once a week.
Coconut milk tea with pearls. Photo: Mabel Kwong
So just what is the fuss about bubble tea? Why is it so popular, especially among the Asian crowd not just in Australia, but in Western countries in general?