29 September 2023

Globalisation and Glocalisation of Bubble Tea

Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea, boba or tapioca milk tea is a popular drink in Asia. Wherever there is Asian diaspora, such as in the USA, one can find bubble tea as well. Bubble tea is becoming increasingly visible even in European countries where there are relatively smaller Asian communities compared with the situation in the USA. One can find various versions of bubble tea in urban areas such as Helsinki, Vienna, and London.

In this episode, Julie Yu-Wen Chen (University of Helsinki) talks to Stella Zhang about her doctoral research at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Stella is interested in the globalisation of food, East-Asian migration and youth culture. Her work investigates how Asia-originated bubble tea, and the wider culture surrounding it, is developing in greater Helsinki, why is it taking off, which sorts of people are involved, how bubble tea is altered – practically and symbolically – as it is made to work in the Helsinki context, and what the implications may be for wider Finnish cultural life.

Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Dr. Chen serves as one of the editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science (Springer, SSCI). Formerly, she was chair of Nordic Association of China Studies (NACS) and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Ethnicity (Taylor & Francis). You can find her on University of Helsinki Chinese Studies’ website, Youtube, and her personal Twitter.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.

We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.