What Does Boba Taste Like?

Bubble tea, usually called boba, originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It was initially a milk tea that consisted of black tea, milk, and sugar. The tea gets shaken in a cocktail shaker with ice to form the famous bubbles, and that is where the name “bubble tea” originated. In truth, it’s the toppings that go into the bubble tea that makes it unique. So, what does boba taste like?

Boba will vary in flavor depending on the type of tea and the toppings that you add, which is where most of the flavor comes from. Bubble tea can be milky, sweet, frothy from the ice added to the drink, fruity, and sometimes earthy and herbal. The texture of boba is chewy and almost jelly-like.

The toppings that you get in bubble tea are mostly chewy tapioca pearls. It is boba’s most defining factor.

When people see a drink with pearls in it, they know without a doubt that it is boba.

What Boba Tastes Like: Popular Bubble Tea Flavors

Boba itself has a herbal or earthy taste. Some say it reminds them of the taste of tree bark. But its most defining taste comes from the toppings or bubbles.

There are so many bubble tea flavors to choose from it can feel a bit overwhelming if you don’t know which flavors will be best for your tastebuds.

Here are some of the most popular and classic bubble tea flavors to choose from.

Black Milk Boba Tea

Milk Tea Mix by Angel Specialty Products [3 LB]

Black milk boba (also known as House Milk Tea) is the go-to classic and still the most popular of all bubble teas. It has the most natural herbal taste of all boba flavors.

Thai Boba Tea

Qbubble Tea Powder Thai, 2.2 Pound

This tea is sweet and creamy with a silky texture and a delicious deep flavor. It has an orange color and is made using Ceylon tea. Its taste is similar to that of normal Ceylon.

Taro Boba Tea

Qbubble Tea Powder Taro Powder, 2.2 Pound

This boba flavor is made from a taro root powder mix, especially for boba and smoothies. It is a creamy and refreshing purple bubble tea with a rich and full nutty vanilla taste.

Honeydew Boba Tea 

Qbubble Tea Powder Green Honeydew Powder, 2.2 Pound

If you like your drinks to be refreshing and fruity, this milk tea is the one to try. It is a slightly sweet milk tea made with honeydew, either fresh or powdered.

Strawberry Boba Tea

The fresh strawberries used in this bubble tea make it almost like a smoothie. It is a creamy and straightforward strawberry-flavored tea.

Matcha Boba Tea

Matcha boba has a vibrant green color. This is definitely on the list of the most classic bubble tea flavors. It is made from green tea and is earthy, sweet, and rich in flavor.

Mango Boba Tea

This bubble tea has a fruity, refreshing, and sweet tropical flavor. It is definitely one to try if you are new to drinking boba.

Jasmine Boba Tea

Compared to other green teas or matcha, jasmine tea adds a slightly herbal and mildly sweet taste to bubble tea.

Lychee Boba Tea

Lychee is a fruit that’s similar in taste and texture to a melon. It is refreshing and fruity, tasting slightly sweet and slightly sour.

Oolong Boba Tea

The word Oolong means “black dragon,” referring to the shape and color of the Oolong leaves. This boba topping has a floral and fruity taste.

Is Boba Gluten-Free?

The tapioca pearls, crystal boba, and popping boba used for the boba toppings are all 100% gluten-free. 

What Is Tapioca Pearls?


The tapioca pearls in bubble tea are made from cassava roots.

If you grate the root and squeeze the liquid out of it, you will end up with a thick, starchy liquid.

When the liquid has evaporated entirely, you are left with fine tapioca powder. This powder will then be processed into pearls.

Before consumption, the pearls must be soaked or boiled because the pearls are dehydrated.

Once they are cooked, they become swollen and translucent.

You can also tell when the pearls are ready since they will drift up to the surface.

These pearls were initially used in other Taiwanese desserts. 

Tapioca is a gluten- and grain-free powder.

What Does Tapioca Pearls Taste Like?

Tapioca has almost no flavor aside from being a little bit of a starchy taste.

That is why it is perfect for use in bubble tea. It becomes sweet, swollen, and chewy when soaked and boiled in sugar or honey water.

What Is Crystal Boba?

Fanale Agar Crystal Tapioca Boba Jelly Ball for Milk Tea Coffee Shaved Ice Topping (4.4 lb / bag)…

Crystal boba, also known as “agar pearls,” is made using konjac. Konjac is a root vegetable that is grown in some parts of Eastern Asia. 

Unlike tapioca pearls, crystal boba is ready-made and doesn’t require any preparation or cooking before use. These pearls are also gluten-free.

Crystal boba is also chewy like tapioca pearls, but it isn’t as jelly-like as other boba pearls.

It is easier to infuse additional flavors and coloring with crystal boba.

There are many different syrups available to use with crystal boba but if you want to go the traditional way of milk tea, just soak them in sugar syrup for about 10 minutes. 

What Is Popping Boba?

BREXONIC Popping Boba Pearls Bursting Tea Balls Drink & Dessert Topping Strawberry Mango Blueberry Passion Fruit Flavored Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls (Blueberry, 2 LB 1 Pack)

Popping boba, also known as bursting boba, is made of an extract of seaweed.

It has a very mild flavor that is barely noticeable against the flavors of the juices that are used in the bubble tea toppings.

With popping boba, you can expect the boba to explode with flavor in your mouth.

Popping boba is deliciously juicy and will add fresh flavor to your bubble tea. It also comes ready to serve with no preparation required.

Black Tea Vs. Green Tea Vs. Oolong Tea

Each type of tea will add a different base flavor to your bubble tea, and each ingredient will give a variety of possibilities and flavor combinations.

Black Tea

Black tea is an oxidized tea. When brewed, it will produce a dark red/orange liquid. It is known for its distinct dark and malty flavor.

Black tea has a deeper aroma than green tea, and it also tastes a bit nutty. Black tea is the perfect tea to use for boba milk tea. 

Green Tea

Green tea is unoxidized and, when brewed correctly, will taste grassy, vegetal, nutty, or have a more herbal taste.

Green tea should not have a bitter taste if it is brewed correctly.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea’s oxidization level is between black tea and green tea.

Oolong tea can have different flavors depending on how it is cultivated and produced.

It can either taste sweet and fruity with a hint of honey aromas or be woody with roasted nut aromas.

Oolong tea has a strong smell and is similar to coffee in its taste profile.

Other Key Ingredients

So far, we’ve looked at two key ingredients of bubble tea – the tea base and the toppings (the boba pearls).

There is another crucial ingredient, namely the milk or milk alternative. This creates a creamy texture and flavor in bubble tea.

There are a few options available:

  • Milk powder 
  • Fresh milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk

Each one of these will also add a different flavor profile to your bubble tea.

It is totally up to you which options you go with and how far you are willing to explore the bubble tea craze.


The world of boba tea is endless. With all the different tea and milk options and all the various styles of toppings, you have an infinite variety of bubble teas that you can try.

To enjoy your bubble tea, you need a wide enough straw so that it is easy for you to sip up all the delights hidden inside of your boba tea.