Bubble tea blooper

« previous post | next post »

That's all, folks.

[h.t. Jichang Lulu]


  1. Bfwebster said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 8:34 am

    Woke my poor wife up wheezing with laughter over this.

  2. Adam Field said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 8:50 am

    I feel there's a pretty good chance it was entirely intentional. After all, it certainly got your attention!

  3. Stef said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 8:59 am

    I agree with Adam Field. Ball-related suggestiveness is groan-inducingly par for the course – for those inclined to suggestive humor – when it comes to bubble tea/boba. (Source: life experience as an Asian-American.) The laugh factor for me is from seeing it on a public message, not from any originality.

  4. dfan said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 9:10 am

    As the first reply to the tweet points out, the ad copied a comic that is of course intentional: https://twitter.com/honorless/status/912489565734211584

  5. Victor Mair said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 9:33 am


    Can you give us the precise reference to kawaiinot's comic?

  6. dfan said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 9:35 am

    Here is the tweet (further down in the thread that I first linked to) in which kawaiinot posts a copy of their original art: https://twitter.com/kawaiinot/status/912543426608078848

  7. Victor Mair said,

    September 28, 2017 @ 11:30 am

    In my "Language, Script, and Society in China" class this morning, I mentioned this post, and my students gave me some excellent and very interesting feedback.

    The first thing they pointed out is that there is a difference in the way people refer to zhēnzhū nǎichá 珍珠奶茶 ("pearl milk tea") on the East Coast and the West Coast of America. On the East Coast it is called "bubble tea", while on the West Coast it is called "boba tea" or just "boba".

    In Chinese characters, "Boba" is written as bōbà 波霸 (lit., "wave-hegemon"), which is a descriptive transcription of the English word "boob"! That floored me, and led me to wonder what sort of games people may have played with that word.

  8. mike said,

    September 29, 2017 @ 1:59 am

    Altho the term boba tea definitely appears it here (we're in Seattle), "bubble tea" is also used. That's the term I learned first, in fact.

  9. Björn said,

    September 29, 2017 @ 4:17 am

    This is from a mall in Thailand, where bubble tea is known as

    บับเบิลมิลก์ที /bàp bɤ̄ːn mīn tʰīː/ (transcription of English "bubble milk tea")


    ชานมไข่มุก /tɕʰāː nōm kʰàj múk/ (gloss: "tea milk egg oyster", or "tea milk pearl")

    There is nothing in any word for this in Thai that can be easily mistranslated to "ball".

  10. Matt said,

    September 29, 2017 @ 8:45 am

    In Japanese it's just called "tapioca tea" タピオカティー. Sigh.

  11. Chas Belov said,

    September 30, 2017 @ 2:55 am

    I believe in San Francisco it started out as "bubble tea" and is now mostly "boba" which I was aware meant "breasts." I too am sure the double-entendre was intentional on the part of the advertiser.

    In San Jose there is or was a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 69 (Pho [number] being a common generator of phở restaurant names) and their slogan was "Something hot coming to your mouth." The weekly paper I read the review in wondered whether the restaurant had any idea that their slogan had an alternate sexual meaning. I immediately thought "you racist idiot, of course they know exactly what they're saying."

  12. Derek B said,

    October 2, 2017 @ 6:20 am

    In Pittsburgh, it depends on the area. In the city, especially on the Pitt and CMU campuses where there are more university students, it's almost always "bubble tea". In the suburbs, for our one mall-based bubble tea store, people have seem to remember "boba"–pronouncing it with a long "o"–much more readily.

  13. Mary Kuhner said,

    October 2, 2017 @ 5:05 pm

    As circumstantial evidence that the person who made this knew exactly what they were doing, I present the local pho restaurant "What the Pho?"

    (I was surprised to find we also have, as Chas says, a number of Pho [number] restaurants with various numbers. Not 69 though.)

RSS feed for comments on this post