We tend to use boba and bubble tea interchangeably. However, boba is actually the pearls, or bubbles, of tapioca that sit at the bottom of the tea.
Generally speaking, boba tastes sweet, but not overly sweet, and creamy if you choose a milk tea. If you choose fruit tea, you will get a much sweeter flavor due to the absence of actual tea. However, there are endless flavor combinations that transform your boba flavor.
Ordering a bubble tea is a little like ordering a sundae, there are a seemingly infinite amount of options. We’ll try to cover some of the common types of boba and how to change up the flavors in your tea.
Types of Boba
Boba are those little bubbles that sit at the bottom of your tea. We’ll talk about five common types and how they are used for different purposes in different types of tea.
Basically, black boba is tapioca that is made with dark brown sugar, which gives it its distinctive color. They are smooth and chewy, sort of like a gummy bear. Black boba bubbles are fairly sweet given they are made with sugar.
Clear boba has very little flavor on its own and gets its flavor from absorbing the flavor of the tea. In addition to being able to absorb the flavor, clear boba also absorbs the color of the tea. So while your boba may start out clear, by the end of your drink, they will have changed color.
They have a similar texture to black boba and are smooth and chewy.
While both black and clear boba are sort of smooth and chewy, popping boba is filled with fruit juice. And, as its name implies, will pop in your mouth when chewed. Popping boba is coated with a thin gel.
Since the inside of popping boba generally consists of water, sugar, and fruit juice, popping boba tends to be fairly sweet. Its flavor and color will vary depending on which type of fruit juice is contained inside.
Flavored Tapioca Boba
If you’re really looking to change up the flavors of your bubble tea, flavored tapioca boba will fill that need. Essentially, these are clear boba that have been coated in flavor syrup. The flavor possibilities are endless, but some of the most popular include:
Mini boba is exactly what you think it is, a mini version of clear, black, or flavored tapioca boba. It has a somewhat less chewy consistency than regular-sized boba and is easier to suck through a straw.
Boba in Bubble Tea
Part of what makes boba so versatile is the tea you chose to drink it in. While there are many options, the two most common types are milk tea or fruit tea.
Milk tea generally consists of black tea, milk, ice, and boba. It’s then shaken to create a creamy, frothy texture. It’s fairly sweet, but not overpowering thanks to the black tea.
If you’ve opted for a fruit tea, it generally consists of fruit, milk, honey, ice, and boba. Again it’s shaken to produce a frothy texture.
Fruit tea boba is often sweeter than milk tea boba as there is little to cut the sweetness of the fruit and honey.
Bubble tea is incredibly popular, and we couldn’t have bubble tea without boba.
Boba itself is generally quite flavorless with a smooth and chewy texture. If it’s made with brown sugar, as in black boba, it’s much sweeter.
Both popping boba and flavored boba have tastes that are dependent on other things. Either what’s inside it, or what’s it’s been coated with.
Flavored boba has the same chewy texture as clear and black. However, popping boba has a gel coating and explodes in your mouth when you bite into it.