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I Tried Boba, And Here’s What I Learned

I Tried Boba, And Here’s What I Learned

Boba tea is a popular drink that gets Californians through the warm months. Here's everything I learned from trying boba for the first time Team


3 min read

April 19, 2023

Bored with drinks having the same taste, texture, and components? I was too! So I set out to try the popular boba tea drink and see what all the fuss is about.

Boba tea is known for having boba or tapioca pearls at the bottom or top, adding a unique dimension to your drinking experience. Those dark chunky spheres can absorb the tea’s flavor or introduce some of its own. Wondering how it all works? And what is boba tea anyway? Let’s find that out together.

Boba tea is a unique kind of drink that offers an experience and flavors like none other.

What is Boba?

Those chewy, chunky brown balls bouncing around at the bottom of your drink or laying on top of its creamy layer are called boba. The food capitals of Taiwan - named Tainan and Taichung - first came up with this unique ingredient during the 1980s. By the next decade, boba tea made its way to the USA and several European countries. Soon after, it garnered global popularity and became a phenomenon.

The milk tea boba is prepared chiefly from a kind of starch called tapioca. That’s why its alternate names include tapioca pearls or just pearls. This starch comes from an ancient South American root named cassava, which is also a popular ingredient for making several sugar-free candies. After kneading the starch into little balls, they are cooked in boiling brown sugar for half an hour or until they reach the desired texture.

A boba tea, also known as bubble tea or pearl milk tea, primarily consists of components like milk, ice, black tea and tapioca pearls. The barista puts all these together in a container and then shakes it. There can be numerous combinations of additional ingredients, as well as a variety of these fundamental components, to create the best boba tea flavors.

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The texture of boba tea is what makes the drink stand out, but it does take some getting used it.

What's it like to drink boba?

For your first boba tea, get ready to experience something brand new! After getting your cup, draw in the pearls while drinking the tea through a large or jumbo straw. Combining the smooth milky tea with the soft gummy texture of boba creates an exquisite mouthfeel for each drinker. Additionally, boba’s neutral taste compliments the sugary or fruity flavor of tea.

The first sip I took, I was almost intimidated by the number of pearls climbing through the straw! Once I had them together in the mouth, I realized how 2-4 balls per sip makes the perfect balance of liquid and chewy pearls. I shook the cup a couple of times so that the pearls are not all laying at the bottom and therefore feel tougher to reach with the straw. Even though I know boba to be neutral, I sensed a unique taste when I had a few on their own. It’s neither bitter nor fruity, rather it was slightly sweet and kept reducing in taste the more I bit into it. I’m guessing this happened because my bobas were dark brown and possibly cooked with brown sugar.

As boba drinks have grown in popularity, there are more variations and twists on the formula.

What to Order for Your First Boba Experience?

If this is going to be your first boba tea adventure, you can go the safe route of ordering basic milk tea with black or brown boba. However, if you already have preferences in flavor or texture, we can guide you for the more suitable choices.

You can try the green tea with lychee, passion fruit or peach for a tangy flavor. For a stronger taste, black tea or oolong tea would be a better pick. Those who like creamy texture, the more fitting choices are jasmine, honeydew, matcha, and taro tea. If tea bores you, feel free to choose a latte, juice, or yogurt instead.

Once you try boba tea, you will definitely feel like exploring all its variations. Even though boba milk tea is most people’s go-to choice, there are plenty more options to play with in terms of flavor, topping, and liquid base. If you want to make your own versions of boba drinks, you can also do that by either preparing boba at home or investing in boba tea kits.

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