However, this is not the case in Taiwan, where the term boba is actually a slang word for “large breasts.”
In both Cantonese and Mandarin, the word boba 波霸 is the combination of the word for bubble and the word for big, which, when used together, form the slang for “big boobs.”
That is why inviting a local to grab some boba in Taiwan might spark some unexpected reactions.
In Taiwan, the drink is more commonly referred to as zhenzhu 珍珠 (pearl milk tea), although some local shops, which might have picked up on the term from English-speaking customers, have also adopted the word “boba” to refer to the variants with bigger, 7-millimeter (0.2-inch) tapioca pearls.
Some reports also claimed that the term boba originated from one local tea shop owner who decided to use larger tapioca balls to offer something new to his customers. He reportedly chose the more provocative term on purpose in an attempt to make his tea stand out.
Now, when used to describe the drink, the characters 波霸奶茶 directly translate to “boba milk tea,” and loosely to “bubble milk tea.”