Boba Tea for Beginners: A Simple How-to Guide

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Bubble tea, boba tea, pearl milk tea—whatever you want to call them, these big-strawed beverages seem to be around every street corner these days. If you want in on the Taiwanese boba tea craze, you've come to the right place. We'll give you the inside scoop on how to best enjoy boba tea for beginners.

Best Boba Tea Flavors for Beginners

The one topping that ties all boba tea variants together is the presence of tapioca pearls. These chewy black balls are made from cassava root and offer a nice textural contrast to the smooth tea base.

Besides that, an entire world of boba tea flavors is waiting to be explored. Most bubble tea recipes are enjoyed as iced tea, but hot boba teas also exist.

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Classic milk tea with tapioca pearls

If it’s your first time trying a boba tea drink, we recommend dipping your tongue into the original classic milk tea. It is made with black tea, milk, sweetener, and tapioca pearls soaked in brown sugar syrup.

Afterward, you can select any of these popular bubble tea flavors, depending on your personal preference:

Still unsure about where to start? Ask the boba barista about their best-selling drinks if you’re ordering from your local bubble teahouse. They’ll have the expertise to guide you in choosing a flavor that’s a guaranteed hit among patrons.

You may also peruse the menu and look for visual cues that point to the store’s top boba tea flavors. Some boba shops may specialize in fruit teas, while others will have almond milk and vegan options. There’s no harm in trying one out and starting from there!

SEE ALSO:  4 Main Components of Bubble Tea (And a Plethora of Recipes!)

How Do You Start Drinking Boba Tea?

Drinking boba tea is a pretty straightforward process, but there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that you enjoy your drink to the fullest.

1. Remember to stir or shake your drink before sipping. Stirring is essential if you order a tea base with layers of different colors and flavors—stirring the beverage distributes the flavors evenly so you can taste them in every sip.

2. Pick the right straw size. If you order a drink with chewy tapioca pearls, you’ll need a thicker straw to suck up the boba and the tea together. Consider buying a glass straw made for boba – they are reusable, easy to clean, and can be used for boba and bubble teas!

Finally, indulge! We recommend taking short sips to give your taste buds time to savor the flavor of your boba tea. You’ll also have enough time to chew on the tapioca pearls and enjoy their signature chewy texture.

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Layered boba tea

Are Boba Tea and Bubble Tea the Same?

Yes, these two terms can be used interchangeably. ‘Boba’ is slang for “breasts” in Chinese, referencing the tapioca pearl’s spherical shape and soft texture. Similarly, the ‘bubble’ in bubble tea now refers to the bubble-shaped tapioca balls that settle at the bottom of the drink. Initially, it referred to the bubbles that formed on top of the tea after shaking it.

If you order from a bubble tea shop, the barista will serve you the same drink flavor regardless of whether you say bubble or boba tea. So don’t get too caught up in the details!

SEE ALSO:  Which Is the Best Bubble Tea Flavor?

When Do You Eat the Tapioca Balls in Boba Tea? 

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Tapioca pearls in traditional brown sugar syrup

The fun of boba drinks lies in the bouncy tapioca pearls that dot the bottom of your beverage. That said, there are more ways than one to enjoy these boba pearls.

You can actively target your straw towards the tapioca balls first and eat them before drinking the beverage. You can pull your straw a little higher and enjoy the milky tea beverage, leaving the tapioca pearls behind as a snack for later. Or you can drink the boba tea concoction blindly, reveling in the surprise of sipping whatever enters your mouth.

Is Bubble Tea Healthy?

While enjoyable to sip on, boba milk tea is high in calories and sugar. The tapioca pearls are also calorie-dense and don’t carry enough nutrients to be considered a healthy snack.

That said, drinking boba tea every once in a while doesn’t hurt. You may also request that the boba barista decreases the sugar levels of your drink if you’re conscious about your sugar intake.

Where Can You Buy Bubble Tea?

You can find bubble tea in many specialty boba shops in a large city. They’re not hard to spot, as they’re often situated in places with a lot of foot traffic.

A few notable bubble tea shops include:

  • CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice
  • Sharetea
  • Gong Cha
  • Chatime

If you live in a place that doesn’t have many boba tea shops, several bottled bubble tea brands are sold in supermarkets. Or you can try searching for bubble tea powder online to make homemade bubble tea. Some of our favorites include the following:


Joshua always had a sweet tooth, but he could never stand the fizziness of soft drinks. So when he was first introduced to milk tea, he fell in love with its creamy sweetness and lack of carbonation. Now, Joshua is constantly on the lookout for new and interesting milk tea flavors to try. His favorite flavor is Cheesecake, but he also enjoys Wintermelon, Taro, and Matcha.

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