Caffeine in Bubble Tea vs Coffee: Which is Stronger?

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Most bubble teas have less caffeine than coffee. However, depending on how the tea is brewed, bubble teas can still have over 50 mg of caffeine per serving. Learn more about caffeine content and how to reduce the amount of caffeine in your bubble tea below.

Caffeine Content

When comparing bubble tea and coffee, there are many factors to consider. The type of tea or coffee, the brewing method, and even the size of the grounds or leaves all change the caffeine content. In general, hot water draws out more caffeine than cool water. The amount of tea or coffee matters, too.

Bubble tea

Bubble tea ranges from 0mg of caffeine to upwards of 80 mg or higher depending on the type of tea used, the amount of tea used, and the brewing time. Matcha tea has the most caffeine, followed closely by Thai and black tea.

Type of TeaCaffeine per 8-ounces
Matcha tea38-176 mg
Thai tea45-55 mg
Black tea40-70 mg
Oolong tea37-55 mg
Green tea35-45 mg
White tea15-30 mg
Decaf tea0-12 mg
Herbal tea0 mg


The amount of caffeine in coffee varies depending on how it’s brewed and the blend of the coffee used. Cold brew uses one and a half times more coffee grounds than a typical cup of hot coffee, so the caffeine amount in this beverage is typically higher.

Type of CoffeeCaffeine per 8-ounces
Cold brew153-238 mg
A regular cup of coffee80-100 mg
One shot of espresso60-80 mg (per one ounce)
Instant62 mg
Decaf 2 mg

Is Coffee or Bubble Tea Better for You?

The answer depends on what you add to your coffee or bubble tea. Tea is a healthy beverage, full of antioxidants and health benefits. Black coffee is also beneficial. It can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and Parkinson’s. The health benefits lessen when other ingredients are added to tea and coffee.

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Sugar Content

Bubble teas contain a lot of added sweeteners. They also contain tapioca pearls. While tapioca does provide a few health benefits, it is a source of starchy carbohydrates. Toppings for bubble tea, like jellies or red beans, have more added sugar. The result is often a bubble tea drink high in sugar and carbs.

Coffee, too, can have added sugar. One Starbucks grande coffee drink can contain as many as 60 grams of sugar. Over time, sweetened beverages like coffee and bubble tea can cause blood sugar spikes, eventually leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Caffeine Absorption

The caffeine in coffee is faster acting and can lead to a burst of energy followed by a crash. It can also cause headaches and nausea if consumed in excess.

The caffeine in tea is absorbed more slowly by the body, creating even energy levels for extended periods. However, it is essential to note that each person reacts differently to caffeine and has a different tolerance.

There’s no easy answer, unfortunately. Coffee and bubble tea both have health benefits as long as the finished drink isn’t too high in sugar or carbs. To keep these beverages as healthy as possible, reduce added sweeteners and carbohydrates.

Which Bubble Teas Have No Caffeine?

A few of the most common caffeine-free bubble teas* include:

If you are sensitive to caffeine, you can also choose herbal or white tea as your base. Both of these teas have low amounts of caffeine.

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*Each boba tea shop is different. These drinks are typically caffeine-free, but it is always best to ask the barista.

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Taro milk tea

Can You Reduce or Increase the Caffeine Content in Tea?

Ideally, you should keep your caffeine intake under 400 mg per day, roughly no more than four cups of brewed coffee.

There are ways to reduce the caffeine content in homemade tea.

  • Steep for a shorter time (for just 1-2 minutes)
  • Brew your tea with cold water—hot water releases more caffeine
  • Use more water than called for—more water will dilute your tea, making it lower in caffeine
  • Use tea bags or whole tea leaves—smaller leaves release more caffeine
  • Use your tea bag and 2nd or 3rd time—the 2nd brew has about 70% caffeine of the 1st, and the 3rd use has about 25% of the caffeine of the original brew

You can also increase the amount of caffeine in your tea by reversing the above:

  • Steep for a longer time—more than 5 minutes
  • Brew with very hot water
  • Use small tea leaves
  • Add more tea bags—use 2 or 3 instead of just 1
  • Reduce the amount of water when you brew your tea

Can You Drink Milk Tea When You’re Pregnant?

Experts agree that pregnant women should limit their daily caffeine intake to below 200 mg of caffeine per day. Caffeine easily crosses the placenta, and babies in the womb cannot metabolize caffeine as adults can, meaning caffeine can build up in their bodies. High levels of caffeine can contribute to low birth weights and restrict fetal growth.

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Pregnant women should choose caffeine-free teas or bubble teas with low caffeine. However, some herbal teas are not safe for pregnant women. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor about which teas are safe to drink.


Sarah loves indulging in bubble tea near her home in southern Indiana. She constantly experiments with flavor combinations, but her favorite flavor is passion fruit. She enjoys experimenting in her home kitchen and hopes to one day be a pro at making her own bubble tea.

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