A FOODIE craze that started in Taiwan in the 1980s has hit Warrington.

Shelly's Restaurant in Bold Street is thought to be the only business in the town offering bubble tea.

The drink is said to be like a cross between an ice tea and a milkshake with 'popping pearls' that contain fruit juice and pop in your mouth.

Edible pearls are usually made from agar shell or tapioca.

Bubble tea was an evolution from Taiwan's street tea vendors who began experimenting with fruity flavours and colour to entice customers.

It has slowly spread across the world, reaching the United States and Australia by 2000 and arriving in the UK about five years ago.

Shelly Butterworth, who runs Shelly's, will be offering mango, vanilla and matcha green tea bubble teas with mango popping pearls.

But if it proves popular she said she may introduce new varieties as her supplier BobaMix in Liverpool has 40 main flavours.

Bubble tea is usually served cold and starts with a base tea before a flavour and popping pearls are added.

"So actually you could have hundreds of combinations," said Oliver Key, who set up BobaMix six months ago.

Oliver sells bubble tea at markets across Liverpool and said that mango is the most popular flavour.

But East Asian root vegetable taro is the fastest selling online.

Oliver discovered bubble tea in Hong Kong when he was a kid.

He said: "My dad used to work in East Asia and I discovered it then. I was looking for ice tea and didn't know what I was getting.

"I ended up with this melon flavour bubble tea and I just thought it was really exciting and different.

"After that I spent most of my time trying to get different varieties each day.

"A few years ago I flew to America and it was the first time I'd seen bubble tea in 10 years.

"Then when I was thinking about what I wanted to do after my masters in business at Liverpool University it came to me then."

Shelly, who opened her restaurant about 11 years ago, added: "I liked the matcha bubble tea the best.

"We have a fab coffee machine and lovely traditional teas but I think this is a way of making it new and exciting. We're giving it a whirl."

Word is spreading fast with Harry Styles said to be a bubble tea fan.

Oliver said: "In the same way you can get a milkshake in the UK, you can get a bubble tea in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"I think it's spreading across the world because it's an innovative product, tastes great and is a really fun summer drink.

"In the last year a bubble tea bar opened in Manchester and Liverpool and Newcastle, Cardiff and Glasgow have got them.

"Almost every big city has a bubble tea shop of one form or another and we're expecting smaller cities and towns to follow."

- To try out a free 250ml bubble tea for yourself, all you need to do is be one of the first 50 people to show Shelly a copy of this week's paper. Regular 570ml bubble teas at Shelly's cost £2.75