Bubble Tea: The Complete Guide to Boba Tea Flavors, Recipes & FAQs

From easy DIY recipes to delicious flavors and toppings in boba teas, here’s our guide on everything you need to know about the popular bubble tea drink from Taiwan!

Featured image credits: @bubbleology

Hey there! As much as we’re sad to say goodbye to winter and hot chocolate and other hot drinks, there are plenty of reasons to be happy about the upcoming season. Like flip flops, ice-creams, gelato and of course, bubble tea! It’s the best way to treat yourself during the scorching summer months. But let’s not limit boba tea to seasons ’cause I drink them all year round.

I’ve tried almost every flavor out there with every possible topping and bubbles combination and I’m happy to say that I’ve found the perfect one for me! It’s gotten to a point where I enter my local boba cafe and the guy at the counter makes my usual without even me telling him what I want. If you haven’t tried it already, it’s about time you did! But don’t blame me if reading this article inspires you to try every flavor and turns you into a bubble tea addict.

What is Bubble Tea?


The only way I can describe it is as the yummiest drink on the face of the planet. Really. If you can’t tell already, I, personally love this drink with a passion that knows no bounds. It’s basically a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan way back in the 80s but has grown more and more popular internationally over this decade. It has two types – fruit based and milk based. And it’s got plenty of delicious flavors and add-ons like grass jelly, fruit jelly, basil seeds, whipped cream and every boba tea lover’s fave – black tapioca pearls! In fact, it’s these tapioca balls that can make anyone spot it from afar!

What Are the Bubbles in Bubble Tea?

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Also known as pearls, the bubbles in boba tea are usually tapioca balls, which are made from tapioca starch extracted from the root of the cassava plant. Their chewy texture makes drinking the bubble tea all the more amazing. Some boba tea bars also have fruit bubbles made of fruits like lychee, strawberry and peach. Contrary to their name, they’re not bubbles at all because they’re solid!

Bubble Tea Ingredients


Despite it’s intense flavor, an Asian bubble tea typically has just four ingredients.

  • A base such as milk, water or tea (usually black or green)
  • Flavorings, which can be in the form of a syrup, powder, fruit juice or fruit puree.
  • Honey or sugar
  • Pearls and jellies

Calories in Bubble Tea & Nutrition Facts


A standard milk bubble tea would have atleast 300 calories. It’s sad ’cause about 50% of the calories in a boba drink comes from the tapioca pearls – the sole reason we drink bubble teas. Add to it the colorings in the syrup and full-fat milk, the total would come up to over 250 calories. For this reason, bubble drinks are not for consumption on a daily basis. Indulging now and then is perfectly okay though!

Is Boba Healthy or Bad for You?


This would vary from cafe to cafe, depending on how they make the bubble tea. If it’s made using fresh fruit pulp (which is not the case in most places), it can be considered healthy. But generally, the cassava root, from which the pearls are made, contains vitamin C and carbohydrates and is quite nutritious. All that said, having a large drink with much processed sugar is not the healthiest of choices. To avoid health issues, opt for green tea based or skim milk based teas and instead of sugar, get your boba tea with honey or brown sugar, which are comparatively healthier options.

Bubble Tea Powder


Powders are one way to incorporate the flavor into the bubble tea. They come in all sorts of flavors but are sadly, not that easily available everywhere. They are available in some Asian grocery stores though. However, if you are lucky enough to get a hold of it, the method to make it is super easy. Just add it to water or milk, drop in a couple of ice cubes, add toppings of your choice and you’re done! Some powders don’t come with added sweetener, in that case, you can add either honey or sugar.

Is Bubble Tea Gluten Free?

Yes! Bubble teas are 100% gluten-free. So even people who have gluten sensitivity or allergies to wheat, can enjoy this refreshing drink!

Does Bubble Tea Have Caffeine?

Yes, it does because it’s usually made with green or black tea, both of which contain caffeine. But if you’re super health conscious and living a caffeine-free lifestyle, try tapioca tea made from fruit and milk only.

Popular Brands & Restaurants for Bubble Teas


As bubble tea has grown so popular, every major tea cafe chain has its own selection, including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Also, every major city in the world has boba tea houses (and countless blog posts dedicated to that!). Gong Cha and CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice are two well-known bubble tea restaurants and have over 300 and 1000 stores, respectively, operating globally.

Instant boba tea mixes are a must for anyone who doesn’t wanna go to a boba tea bar, every time they crave one. Not only is it very simple to make, but also super fun! Buddha Bubbles Boba and Qbubble are two very popular bubble tea powder brands and have every flavor of boba tea that you can imagine. With great customer ratings and reviews on Amazon, they’re good enough to try. They also sell tea kits that come with powders and tapioca pearls.

Types of Bubble Tea

Top Bubble Tea Flavors

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When it comes to flavors in bubble teas, the list is endless. Every other day, new flavors are introduced, which makes it so hard to even attempt to stay healthy. There are many different types of boba but the top and most popular pearl tea flavors are taro (purple tea), Thai bubble tea, boba smoothies and fruit teas. Discover plenty of homemade bubble tea ideas below!

Bubble Tea Recipe Ideas

Check out our super easy DIY boba tea recipes below! They’re so easy, you can make them when you’re making your evening tea but with two or three additional steps.

1. Thai Bubble Tea


If you’re someone that’s not into sickly sweet drinks, I’d highly recommend trying Thai boba tea. It’s got a very strong tea flavor, kind of similar to Assam tea, that comes through despite adding sweeteners. It’s basically Thai iced tea but with boba balls. Also, it’s quite easy to make! Check out this simple recipe by Yummies4Dummies Cooking Channel on YouTube.

Here’s what you’ll need: Brewed thai tea, 1 tbsp whole milk, 2 tbsp condensed milk

For the syrup: 1 cup water, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 tbsp honey

For the bubbles: Raw tapioca pearls, 4 cups of water

Firstly, you’ll need to make the syrup. Pour the water in a small pan, add in the two types of sugar and honey and stir until everything’s dissolved. Cook for five minutes on medium heat and leave it to the side to cool for 30 minutes.

Now on to the pearls! Simply boil the water in a small pot, add the pearls once it comes to a boil and let it cook for about 15 minutes until they float on top of the boiling water. Now drain all of the water and rinse the pearls under cold running water and it’s done!

All you’re left with now is putting the drink together. Pour in the tea and condensed milk into a tall glass. Stir and add in the whole milk, tapioca bubbles and ice and enjoy!

2. Boba Milk Tea


As a person that absolutely despises milk, I thought I’d hate this bubble drink. But surprisingly enough, it’s just as good as the fruit teas. Milk bubble teas come in a lot of flavors too. My personal favorite is the taro or purple boba tea. Other popular ones are matcha, strawberry, kiwi, passion fruit, honeydew melon and almond milk tea.

3. Vegan Bubble Tea

You can now drink boba tea even if you’re vegan, all thanks to Peaceful cuisine’s YouTube video. It’s made like any other milk bubble tea drink but using soy milk and maple syrup instead of regular milk and honey.

4. Purple Bubble Tea


The prettiest and also one of the yummiest types of pearl milk teas is the purple or taro bubble tea. It’s made from the starch of taro, which is a root vegetable. These bubble drinks are well-known for their stunning lavender color but I promise you, they taste ten times better than they look. It’s super creamy and has a slight hint of vanilla. Plus taro has many health benefits. It’s a win-win!

5. Coconut Bubble Tea


Add in ¼ cup coconut cream or ½ cup coconut milk along with the standard bubble tea recipe ingredients to make this delectable drink.

6. Boba Smoothies


This bubble tea recipe is so simple, anyone including beginners can make it. The ingredients you’ll need are tapioca balls, milk, vanilla ice-cream and a fresh fruit of your choice. Make your fruit milkshake with a help of a blender, finish off by adding the boba pearls and sip away!

7. Lychee Jelly Bubble Tea


Make a boba drink in any of the above flavors or any other that you love and add some lychee jelly, which is another popular boba topping. You could make it with instant gelatin powder or buy ready-made ones.

8. Chocolate Bubble Tea


These are milk based and can be made with chocolate syrup or hot chocolate powder. Top it with some yummy whipped cream and sprinkle a couple of choco chips or chocolate shavings!

9. Coffee Bubble Tea


If you make cold coffee regularly, you’re gonna love this bubble tea recipe. All you do is add is pearls to cold coffee and it’s done!

10. Honey boba


Some people don’t like the taste of tapioca pearls mainly because of it’s chewiness and bland taste. Maybe, just maybe, this bubble tea recipe will change that. It’s just one extra but simple step to be done after boiling the uncooked tapioca balls. Soak them in honey for around an hour and that’s pretty much it! Add it to your boba drink or eat them on their own! I know I would.

11. Fruit bubble teas


These deliciously sweet concoctions can be made in so many different ways with so many different flavorings. The easiest way is to make it with black homemade tea and fruit juice. Some of the more popular fruit flavored bubble teas that are a must-try are:

  • Lychee Bubble Tea
  • Mango Bubble Tea
  • Strawberry Bubble Tea

So that was our complete go-to guide on Asian bubble tea. Hope you liked it! Let us know your thoughts by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja! 😀

Also read:
Types of Tea: Guide to All Different Tea Types & Their Benefits
Tea and Infusions: The Complete Guide to All Types of Herbal & Infused Teas
– 7 Rare Boba Tea Flavors & Recipes Every Bubble-Lover Should Try: Unique & Yum!