When it comes to Japan's tapioca craze, it seems the third time may be the charm. Currently in the midst of a boom that has already outstripped the previous two waves, demand for tapioca drinks, also known as bubble tea or pearl tea, is still going strong.

Tapioca, a starch extracted from the cassava root, first won fans in Japan in the 1990s as a key ingredient in a coconut milk dessert. It then popped up again when milk tea topped with tapioca balls shaped like large, black pearls were all the rage in the 2000s.

The drink fad made its latest return in 2015 and shows few signs of slowing down this time around, prompting a growing number of tea shops competing to offer their own unique takes on the customizable beverage.