What Is Boba Tea and What Are Those Little Balls?

Boba tea, sometimes referred to as “bubble tea,” is sweet enough to count as a dessert, but refreshing enough to be an “anytime” treat. It’s a delicious mix of tea (sometimes milky, sometimes fruity) and chewy tapioca pearls. And it usually comes with a really big straw. Not enough info? Let’s take some time today to learn a bit more about this wonderful concoction, and we’ll have you out of here quick enough to head to the nearest cafe to grab one for yourself.

Where is boba tea from?

Though it is now a staple of American malls, boardwalks, and practically everywhere else you look, boba tea originated in tea houses in Taiwan, specifically in T’ai-nan, in the mid 1980s. Its obvious deliciousness caught on and now it’s tougher to find spots that don’t offer boba than ones that do! 

What are the balls in boba tea?

The titular bubbles in bubble tea are squishy, semi-solid tapioca pearls. They are black, gelatinous orbs that are very chewy—almost like the consistency of a gummy candy. Though most are largely flavorless, they can come in different flavors and colors sometimes. They’re big enough that boba tea usually comes with a larger than average straw so you can sip the drink and the tapioca pearls. 

best instant boba kits

Best At-Home Boba Tea Kits

What’s the best boba tea kit? We tasted a bunch of the top brands on the market to find the best boba tea kit so you can make your own at home.

What is in boba tea?

Aside from the aforementioned tapioca pearls, boba tea mainly consists of milk, ice, fruit juice occasionally and, of course, the titular tea! Really, any tea can be used, but black or green is by far the most common.

Does boba tea have caffeine? 

If boba tea is made with green tea or black tea, then it will contain caffeine. Most servings pack 50 mg per cup, but depending on the type of tea you’ve selected, it can be anywhere from 20 to 80. Either way, it will keep you awake for your next round! 

What does boba tea taste like?

It’s tough to nail down boba tea’s signature flavor. You really can order it in a plethora of flavors—from taro to lychee to brown sugar and everything in between. The real question is, what do you want your boba tea to taste like? You can probably make it happen. But a classic boba tea made with black tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls tastes like cold, creamy, sweet tea. 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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