Bubble Tea Vs Boba: The Ultimate Comparison

Boba vs bubble tea which is correct?! If you are a fan of the bubble tea beverage, you might have come across the terms “bubble tea” and “boba” interchangeably. While both boba tea and bubble tea may seem the same, there are some subtle differences between the two. In this article, let’s go over the different names of these two names and discuss the differences between bubble tea and boba and help you decide which tea drink is best suited for your taste buds. Finally, we can settle the debate of boba or bubble tea!

What is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea drink, also known as pearl milk tea, classic milk tea or boba milk tea, is a popular Taiwanese drink that has become a global sensation. It consists of black tea, milk, and sugar, along with tapioca pearls, fruit jelly, or other toppings. Bubble tea can be served either hot or cold and comes in a variety of flavors.

Bubble tea gained popularity in the 1980s in Taiwan tea rooms and has since spread globally. Bubble tea became a favorite drink of millennials and has been adapted to suit different tastes and preferences. Bubble tea shops can now be found in almost every corner of the world. The tea refers usually to a milk tea blend in this context and people often call it boba or the other way around.

What is Boba?

The name Boba, on the other hand, is a type of topping that is commonly added to bubble tea. The term boba also known as tapioca pearls and is made from cassava root starch. The tapioca balls are boiled until they become soft and chewy and are then added to the tea. Tapioca balls have a distinctive texture and adds a unique flavor to the drink.

Our favourite boba drink is popular in many countries, including Taiwan, China, and the United States’ boba tea scene. It has become a popular addition to bubble tea, but it can also be added to other drinks or desserts. 

The Differences Between Bubble Tea and Boba

While bubble tea and boba are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.

  1. Bubble Tea is a Drink, Boba is a Topping

The primary difference between bubble tea and boba is that bubble tea is a drink, while boba is a topping. Bubble tea is made by combining tea, milk, and sugar, and then adding toppings like boba, fruit jelly, or other toppings. The tea base is separate to the toppings and refers to the drink itself. Tea recipes are often unique for each store and milk tea drinks are harder to get right than some might think. When you drink bubble tea, firstly it’s to experience the tea with milk and then enjoying the toppings after.

Boba, on the other hand, is a chewy topping made from tapioca pearls. It can be added to bubble tea or other drinks and desserts to add texture and flavor. Boba is the bubble in bubble tea for most people and it’s even more so for bubble tea fans (such as ourselves!)

  1. Bubble Tea Has Many Varieties, Boba is a Single Topping

Bubble tea comes in many flavors, and the recipe can be adapted to suit different tastes and preferences. Bubble tea can be made with black tea, green tea, or fruit flavors, and can be served either hot or cold. In addition, there are many different types of toppings that can be added to bubble tea.

Boba pearls on the other hand are a single topping that has a distinctive texture and flavor. While it can be added to different drinks and desserts, it is not as versatile as bubble tea.

  1. Boba Can Be Added to Other Drinks and Desserts, Bubble Tea Cannot

While boba is primarily associated with bubble tea, it can be added to other drinks and desserts. For example, boba can be added to smoothies, ice cream, and even cocktails to add texture and flavor.

Bubble tea, on the other hand, is a specific drink that cannot be adapted to suit other drinks or desserts.

FAQ’s on Bubble Tea Vs Boba

Is bubble tea the same as milk tea?

While bubble tea can be made with milk, it is not the same as milk tea. Milk tea is made by adding milk to tea, while bubble tea is made by combining tea, milk, and sugar and adding toppings.

Is boba healthy?

Boba is a relatively healthy topping, as it is low in fat and calories. However, bubble tea itself as a drink is high in carbohydrates and sugar, which means that it should be consumed in moderation. Milk tea was already a drink with a lot of sugar so tea with tapicoa is definitely even more calories but we can reduce it by asking for less or no sugar and only having the toppings as the source of sugar.

Can bubble tea be made without boba?

Yes, bubble tea can be made without boba, it wouldn’t be called boba anymore though! There are many different toppings that can be added to bubble tea, such as fruit jelly, grass jelly, or popping boba.

Is boba vegan?

Most boba is vegan, as it is made from tapioca starch, which is derived from the cassava plant. However, some brands of boba may contain honey or other non-vegan ingredients, the pearl tea can also contain milk so it is important to check the ingredients before consuming. Tapioca teas can be quite a treat for a vegan bubble tea lover. Most tea stores offer different milk alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk and oat milk but some might argue that tea is another drink if the milk changes. For bubble tea lovers though, the name for the drink doesn’t matter as much as the taste~!

How many types of boba are there?

The types of bubble tea vary a lot since there can be different variations of tea including taro milk tea, brown sugar boba tea and even fresh fruit-based boba drinks. Tea became increasingly popular after adding varieties of boba to it although it was already a popular drink before arriving in the US and other western countries like Australia. The name of the boba can refer to pearls, grass jelly or even popping pearls. There are new bubble tea variations with boba combinations coming out every day! 

Which Drink is Right for You?

The difference between boba and bubble tea comes down to personal preference. If you are looking for a versatile drink with many flavors and toppings, bubble tea may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a unique topping that adds texture and flavor to your drink or dessert, boba on its own without the milk tea may be the way to go. There are also other drink options at most stores like fruit tea, iced tea and different variations like taro bubble tea, hong kong milk tea and even fruit juice!

It is worth noting that while bubble tea and boba can be enjoyed in moderation, they should not be consumed in excess. Both drinks are high in sugar and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and other health issues.

Whether you prefer bubble tea or just boba comes down to personal preference. Both can have their own unique flavors and textures, and can be enjoyed in moderation as a fun and indulgent treat. So next time you visit a bubble tea shop, take your time to decide which drink is right for you, and enjoy every sip!



Bubble tea or Boba Tea that is the question… – People trying boba for the first time

About the author

My name's Chris, an avid Bubble Tea lover, I try my best to provide some of the best information on Bubble Tea along with bubble tea reviews, boba recipes and boba guides to make your own bubble tea!