The New York Times Just Discovered Bubble Tea and the Internet Is Rolling Its Collective Eyes

| © Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

NYC Food & Drink Editor

Have you had bubble tea before? Maybe a decade or more ago? Then you’re wayyyyyy ahead of this New York Times writer.

There’s a joke within the NYC media world—one of those “it’s funny because it’s true” types of things—that the New York Times only covers an “emerging trend” once it’s already been in the mainstream for years.
The newspaper has one-upped itself today. Its business section just ran a story on bubble tea, an unfamiliar and shocking new thing the kids are drinking these days.
“Remember the first time you went to a Starbucks, and had no idea what to do? These days, bubble tea, an Asian import, seems to be going through the same consumer learning curve, as entrepreneurs bring their exotic menus to malls and big American cities,” intrepid reporter Joanne Kaufman breathlessly exclaims from her time machine on her way back from the early aughts.
Oh honey. Maybe you should’ve checked the paper’s archives first. You might’ve seen this story from last year declaring bubble tea to be “so 2002.”
What’s the worst aspect of Kaufman’s piece? The cluelessness about something that’s been found throughout the U.S. for at least a decade and a half? Or the casual racism of exoticizing a food that isn’t familiar to a particular middle-class white lady?
But wait. It gets even worse. If you click on the story now, it appears to be titled “Bubble Tea, Long a Niche Favorite, Goes Mainstream in the U.S.” The headline was changed several hours after publication; the NYT had originally gone with (and you can still see it in the URL) “The Blobs in Your Tea? They’re Supposed to Be There.”
Can you even? Because we can’t.
As expected, Twitter is serving up some gems in response.
The Blobs in Your Spaghetti? They’re Supposed to Be There
— Anna Hezel (@HezelAnna) August 17, 2017
“The stupid headline? It’s supposed to be there”
— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) August 17, 2017
your food blog needs more asian friends
— E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) August 17, 2017
Who orders bubble tea and is like “what the fuck are these blobs”
— Samra (@heysamra) August 17, 2017
I sure won’t be touching that bubble tea stuff until I can get myself an authentic venti Starbucks Bobbalicious with whipped cream.
— James 서 (@lossless) August 17, 2017
I guess after discovering buttered rolls, it was inevitable that the New York Times would discover bubble tea
— Ian Gunn (@IanPGunn) August 17, 2017
If only the New York Times had discovered that it was over bubble tea 15 years ago before it discovered bubble tea yesterday.
— Joe Kloc (@joekloc) August 17, 2017
are you old and unfamiliar with bubble tea? perhaps you’re so old you forgot what it is. we’re here to pander to you
— nonbinary bray wyatt (@aardvarkwizard) August 17, 2017
They… literally think there’s anyone in NYC who doesn’t know what bubble tea is, at this point? I – I just – they – I mean – what?
— Elizabeth (@spitesprite) August 17, 2017
Next time, New York Times editors, maybe double-check to make sure what you think is an emerging trend isn’t one already declared over in your own newspaper.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article