Boba makers and fanatics will come together on April 13 for a public event to stir up the past, present and future of one of the Bay Area’s favorite sweet drinks.
Hosted at KQED’s new headquarters in the Mission, the event’s featured boba makers have yet to be announced, but we have a few guesses as to who will be piercing big straws through plastic lids there. Maybe it’ll be Pary Phusawadrattana of Dek Doi Cafe, a brand-new Thai boba shop in Oakland that, according to the Bay Area NPR affiliate, also serves a “gay pink milk” that’s caught fire among fans of popular and queer-affirming Boys Love romance shows on Thai television.
Or perhaps San Bruno-based Kiss My Boba will be there to teach folks about mango otai boba, a staple of Tongan family gatherings that’s made with shredded coconut.
While local bubble tea empire Boba Guys has been mired in controversy for years—most recently over alleged union-busting and surveillance—it’s still a major player in the Bay Area milk tea scene and could very well have a presence at the event.
For long time listeners/first time callers, the history of boba traces back to late 1980s Taiwan, though its exact origin story is hotly contested. According to the Taipei Times, two rival teahouses have declared themselves the rightful inventor of boba, which is a mixture of milk tea and tapioca pearls that became popular stateside in the 1990s, when a large wave of Taiwanese immigrants arrived in enclaves like the Bay Area. We can only assume that KQED’s guests will separate boba fact from fiction.