The Ultimate Guide to Boba

Whatever you require to understand about bubble tea, consisting of types, garnishes, how to buy, and where to get the very best boba tea.

Nowadays, it looks like you can go anywhere even town America and see a minimum of one store that offers boba. However, what the heck is boba, where did it originate from, and how do you consume it? As a long period of time boba addict, let me take you into the splendidly sweet and chewy world of boba!

My very first taste of boba remained in the 90s, similar to much of America. Beside the Asian supermarket we checked out every weekend was a small store that appeared to turn up over night. The indications remained in a mix of English and Chinese and the good store owners described to everybody curious that boba nai cha (bubble milk tea) was the most popular beverage all over Taiwan.

I enjoy boba. Boba goes through my veins.

I indicate, not actually due to the fact that the pearls would get stuck, however I like boba tea a lot I would have it every day of my life, two times a day. It’s my go-to reward: velvety and sweet with an enjoyable chew. It can be found in a lot of tastes with a lot of garnishes that I’m quite sure I might have a brand-new kind every day for a truly long period of time.

What does boba tea taste like?

The traditional boba milk tea is velvety and sweet with the essence of tea. The pearls are chewy with a little bit of moderate sweet taste. Boba milk tea is soothing and revitalizing. If you take your tea with milk and sugar, you have a concept of what boba milk tea tastes like. The pearls include an enjoyable chewiness comparable to how gummy sweets are chewy.

What is boba?

Boba is a broad term: it can describe chewy black tapioca pearls or to a classification of beverages offered in a boba tea store. It’s sort of an umbrella term so you’ll hear individuals state they’re having boba when they’re having a slushy fruit beverage boba OR a pumped up beverage topped with cheese foam and oreos. Basically, individuals utilize boba as a catch all expression for all the tasty beverages offered in a boba store. It’s likewise called boba tea, bubble tea, tapioca milk tea, or pearl milk tea. Initially the bubbles in bubble tea described the bubbles in shaken tea and not the pearls at all.

ben gong tea house |

Boba milk tea

The most typical and basic boba is boba milk tea, which highly brewed tea combined with milk and sugar shaken intensely with ice and served with shiny black tapioca pearls. You get a thick straw so you can draw up the pearls and tea at the very same time, concurrently offering you something you consume and chew.

Where is boba from?

Perhaps it looks like boba came out of no where, however the reality its, it’s been around because the 80s. Much like other popular foods out there, there are a number of stores that declare to be the very first developers of boba tea. Milk tea is not a brand-new thing and chewy tapioca balls aren’t brand-new either they have actually been around in Asian and South East Asian desserts for a long period of time. The mix of the 2 together came together in Taiwan in the 80s.

The 2 stores that declare that they were the very first are Chun Shui Tang and Hanlin Tea Space. The reports go, Chun Shui Tang was currently serving cold tea and they were trying to find methods to enhance sales. The item supervisor, Lin Hsiu Hui put some tapioca balls into her iced tea and therefore boba milk tea was born. It’s not too clear on how Hanlin Tea Space created boba milk tea however they declare to be the very first also and have actually been around because the 80s.

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The tea/base

Boba beverages normally begin with a base: either tea or fruit. Teas can vary from black, green, oolong, and matcha. Fruits are quite apparent, they can come as fruit juices or combined up with ice as fruit slush.


To the tea or fruit base, you can include milk, like the ever popular boba milk tea. When boba initially occurred the milk was a velvety mix of vaporized milk and condensed milk or non-dairy creamer, and now you can get all sort of milk, depending upon how hipster the boba store you’re checking out. There are locations that do soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, almond milk, you call it, if it’s milky, you can most likely include it to your boba. The milk area likewise consists of things like yogurt or yogurt beverages like Yakult.

Boba tea tastes

There are a wide variety of tastes contributed to boba through syrups, powders, or fresh active ingredients. Some typical tastes are: taro, coconut, almond, black sesame, melon, ovaltine, chocolate, mango, lychee, matcha, and the list goes on. Each boba tea store will have it’s own list of curated tastes.

alfred tea room |


The name garnishes is sort of a misnomer due to the fact that the garnishes really sink down into the bottom of your cup, however a lot of boba stores describe their mix-ins as garnishes. You can get as lots of garnishes as you like, making boba beverages considerably adjustable. The majority of garnishes have an enjoyable chewiness or “QQ” which implies bouncy, chewy, and pleasing.


The most popular and typical topping for bubble tea. Balls of tapioca boil and simmer up until chewy and tender, then take in either brown sugar, sugar, or honey. They are discreetly sweet, chewy, and outright excellence when done right. All boba stores prepare their pearls daily due to the fact that they solidify and do not last over night or in the refrigerator.

Coconut or lychee jelly

Coconut jelly or nata de coco is coconut water set with gelatin. It can be found in little clear rectangular shapes and is a touch more crispy instead of chewy. In some cases they taste the jelly with lychee and boom, it’s lychee jelly. Coconut and lychee jelly go fantastic in tropical fruit based teas that do not have any milk in them.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera are clear jellied cubes that are gathered from the gel within big aloe vera leaves. They’re filled with anti-oxidants and vitamins. Aloe ver is extremely revitalizing, juicy, soft, and jelly-like with QQ. They’re taken in syrup so they have a little bit of sweet taste and are they’re fantastic in teas or fruit beverages that do not have milk.


This isn’t your routine pudding cup pudding. Rather, think about pudding-like flan or custard. Basically, it’s a jiggly custard made from eggs, cream, sugar, and gelatin. It’s additional velvety and soft with a little bit of texture. You can draw it up through a thick straw and it sets completely with velvety milk teas making them additional elegant. The basic pudding taste is vanilla however often they have mango, taro, almond, or black sesame pudding too.

Lawn jelly

Lawn jelly comes made from a plant that remains in the mint household. It’s a bit company and can come either cut into little cubes or huge soft scoops that are quickly drawn up through a straw. Consider it like jello however with a revitalizing, a little sweet, and herbaceous taste. It goes fantastic with milk tea and coffee based beverages and is lower calorie than boba making it a popular option.

Red bean

Red bean is an exceptionally popular dessert taste in asian desserts and red bean boba is tasty! Adzuki beans simmer up until tender with sugar, making them starchy, chewy, and aromatic. They go fantastic in milky teas and matcha based beverages, providing an earthy, sweet chew.


Foams are fairly brand-new advancement in the boba world. Whipped foam garnishes been available in a big range of tastes and is an enjoyable and fluffy method of including creaminess to boba. They have things like tiramisu cream, sea salt cream, and cheese tea. The concept is that the foams/whipped garnishes are a liquid fluffy mousse or cheesecake that include an additional measurement of texture and taste.

xing fu tang |

Ice and sugar levels

Boba is everything about personalization and 2 of the standard personalization concerns you’ll get are: ice and sweet taste. Boba comes warm/hot, which is best in the fall and winter season. Ice and sugar can vary from complete ice/sugar to less ice/sugar. Boba stores normally have a helpful little chart for you to take a look at with the ice and sweet taste levels.

From sweetest to absolutely no sugar:

Bonus sugar
Routine sugar
Less sugar
Half sugar
Less sugar
No sugar

From cold to hot:

Bonus ice
Routine ice
Less ice
Half ice
No ice

Product Packaging

After your boba master gets your order, they’ll make your beverage according to your modifications and pop whatever into a cup, either plastic or paper, depending upon the shop. The cups are sealed with a paper or plastic movie and they provide you a thick straw with a pointy pointer so you can pierce the cover and get to the goodness. Some stores have actually switched to tops that aren’t sealed and have pre-made holes for you to pop straws into.

The very best method to poke the straw in is to position the cup on a steady surface area, position the straw on top of the cover with one hand while utilizing the other hand to securely lower on the top of the straw.

The majority of boba locations have actually changed to paper straws and you can even get recyclable straws constructed out of metal or glass.

Hot beverages are normally served in a normal to-go coffee cup with a spoon so you can dig your garnishes.

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What kind of boba should I get?

Is this your very first time?

If yes: Opt for the traditional milk tea, cold, with pearls. Pick your ice and sweet taste according to your choices.
If no: go to the next concern!

Hot or cold?

  • Hot: Have you had hot bubble tea prior to? It’s remarkable when it’s cold outside! A warm boba resembles a relaxing hug. Get a roasted milk tea with pearls. Warm pearls will alter your life.
  • Cold: Attempt a lychee green tea with aloe vera. It’s extremely revitalizing therefore great.

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Do you like tea or fruit?

Tea: Matcha is constantly a great option, attempt it with red beans and a foam/cheese top for a mix of earthy, sweet, velvety goodness.
Fruit: Peach mango tea with pearls and coconut jelly for the supreme in QQ and revitalizing taste.

Are you into velvety beverages?

Yes: Attempt a slush! It resembles a fruit slurpee. Melon or taro are traditional options and they’re both cult favorites and they’re combined and velvety.
No: Fruit tea is the method to go. Passionfruit tea with any sort of jelly, specifically yard jelly is additional tasty.

Do you desire garnishes?

Yes: If you’re a topping pro, you understand what to get. If you have actually had a number of cups and wish to branch off I recommend you attempt brown sugar boba, aloe vera, or pudding!
No: NOOOOOOO you should get garnishes, I ask you.

Do you like it sweet?

Sugary food: I normally go half sweet or less sweet, however if you have a craving for sweets you’ll most likely desire routine sugar.
Not too sweet: The majority of people get less sweet and below, it depends on you! You are the master of your boba.

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How to buy boba

The majority of boba stores have their own method of purchasing, however typically, you position your order like this:

  1. Size
  2. Beverage
  3. Garnishes
  4. Sugar level
  5. Ice level
  6. Wait and slurp away!

example: routine roasted rice tea with half pearls/half yard jelly, half sugar, less ice.

Popular boba stores

There are a lot of world broad chains of boba stores, lots of from Taiwan, the birth place of boba. If you desire a boba education, attempt them out. They’re all understood for various things and they are all tasty! In no specific order:


Chatime is among the biggest international tea homes there. They started in 2005 and they are going strong with their purple topped cups. Their most popular seller is pearl milk tea and it’s an exceptional example of a timeless boba milk tea: velvety and sweet with soft and chewy pearls. They’re likewise understood for their QQ mix, which is pearls + coconut jelly. Each of their shops will have a leading 10 beverages choice which can assist you see what’s popular where you live. I personally like their roasted milk with pearls and pudding, half sweet, half ice.

Coco Fresh Tea & Juice

Another brand name began in Taiwan, Coco Fresh Tea & Juice may be the most popular boba brand name around with other 4500 areas worldwide. The have an adorable blob as their logo design and they’re understood for their fresh squeezed juices and fruit teas. They have cloud cream garnishes and their mix garnishes 2 women (pudding and pearls) or 3 people (pearls, pudding, and yard jelly) are extremely popular.

coco boba |

Gong Cha

Gong Cha, once again out of Taiwan, attempts to bring a more high end, high-end sensation to boba. They utilize exceptional teas and you can actually taste the taste distinction. Gong Cha has areas in the United States, Canada, and Australia and they are among my preferred bubble tea stores. They constantly have a good time seasonal beverages that are exceptionally quite and tasty and their royal milk tea is velvety with a big aromatic tea taste. They have a lots of intriguing garnishes like white pearls, basil seeds, and ai-yu jelly in addition to oreo and routine milk foam.

Pleased Lemon

Pleased Lemon concentrates on newly squeezed juices and natural sweeteners. They’re understood for their salted cheese foam series which resembles a liquid cheese cake that’s soaked top of their routine menu products. Their Yakult (Japanese yogurt) beverages are incredibly popular and they likewise have actually tasty made to buy bubble waffles [](

Tiger Sugar

Tiger Sugar’s signature beverage is their brown sugar pearl milk and it’s tasty. You have actually most likely seen Tiger Sugar on your Instagram feed due to the fact that they went viral a number of years earlier and it’s thanks to them that we have the brown sugar boba pattern. Brown sugar boba is sweetened with brown sugar and has a deep caramel taste. The streaks of brown sugar versus the cup contrast with milk or tea make it appear like tiger stripes. The majority of boba stores now provide brown sugar boba provide it a shot, they have a much deeper, more caramel taste.

Boba Guys

An American chain based out of San Francisco, Boba Guys concentrates on high quality active ingredients. They brew genuine tea, usage regional natural milk, and make home made syrups. Boba Guys make their boba in America at their very own pearl factory. They have a boba set which implies even if you do not live anywhere near a Boba Guys, you can attempt their boba in your home. I like their beverages and whenever I’m near one, I can’t withstand. More about Boba Guys here.

Boba Guys SF Review |

Hong Kong Design Milk Tea & Lychee Green Tea from Boba Guys SF

My go to boba order

My go to buy at any brand-new boba store is their traditional milk tea with pearls, half sweet, half ice. It’s an exceptional method to evaluate a store if they do it right, then you understand that the more intriguing innovative orders have an opportunity of being great too. The tea needs to have a strong essence, the sweet taste and ice ought to be moderate, and the pearls ought to be a little warm, bouncy, and chewy.

My perpetuity preferred boba that I have actually had in my life

Chun Shui Tang

These people are the begetters of traditional boba milk tea and they are my outright FAVORITE. They do not have a great deal of abroad areas and the very first time I had one remained in Japan. There was a long however fast moving line and due to the fact that I am not the most skilled at Japanese I simply got the traditional pearl milk tea with no adjustments. The tea was simply the correct amount of sweet and velvety, the ice was crushed and crispy and the pearls were little and chewy. It was so great. I may have been due to the fact that I was thirsty and hot however male, that boba simply struck various. I have not been back to a Chun Shui Tang considering that due to the fact that I hesitate to destroy the memory.

chun shui tang |

Machi machi

This is a very visual Taiwanese tea store that uses actually exceptional (and pricey) teas. They have an adorable series in bottles in addition to teas in cups. As I wished to state that it was a trick that was over priced, I actually liked them. I had the black milk tea latte with yard jelly and the yard jelly was soft and tasty and the milk tea was not too sweet and had lots of black tea taste. The black milk tea with a creme brûlée foam (lite sugar) and gold pearls is my supreme boba dream beverage. Certainly among my leading bobas of perpetuity. The cream be brûlée foam topping was abundant and velvety and the tea and the gold pearls matched completely. I’m imagining one today.

Ben Gong’s Tea

Tiny tea cubes are Ben Gong’s signature. Believe black tea set with gelatin and cut into small cubes. I like their tea cubes and their brown sugar boba however I want their beverages had a more tea forward taste. Depending upon the order often they’re more milk than tea with milk. I believe it depends upon the area due to the fact that some have actually actually great brewed tea and some are lighter in taste. However when it’s done right, it’s SO GOOD.

Chun Enjoyable How

Another among my preferred tea stores! They have stunning cups and their beverages are tasty and the garnishes are chewy and fresh. Every beverage I have actually attempted from them is tasty. Their pearl oolong milk tea is among the very best milk teas I have actually attempted. I likewise enjoy their lychee jade tea with aloe vera. It is among their finest sellers and it’s revitalizing fragile and the little pieces of aloe vera are jelly and QQ. I have not attempted their sweet potato beverages however that’s next on my list due to the fact that they are among the couple of stores that does fresh sweet potato.

Boba should dos

  • Get garnishes! The entire point of boba is the garnishes. It’s the enjoyable in having something to consume and chew at the very same time. If you get boba with no garnishes are you even having boba at all? If you’re not a big fan of pearls a minimum of attempt a foam topping or salted cheese, they include an additional measurement of taste.
  • Do not wait too long to consume it. Boba is finest fresh. Like right when you get it. Some stores have warm pearls and the contrast in between warm pearls and a cold beverage is a match made in paradise. Boba does not keep well so do not even think about getting it in the early morning and waiting.
  • Compromise cups. Some stores have compromise cups and while they tend to be a bit more expensive, it’s a terrific method to check out 2 tastes.

Do you people have any preferred boba chains? Great deals of regional boba stores are unbelievable menus also. Let me understand in remarks what your go-to boba is!

boba permanently!

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