Boba tea has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, and many people are foregoing iced coffee drinks for boba tea instead.

Also referred to as bubble tea, boba is a milk tea beverage made with sweetened tapioca pearls, and it’s quite delicious!

Let's find out if Starbucks have boba tea on the menu, as well as some DIY ideas for making your own boba tea drink at home.

  • Unfortunately, traditional Boba isn't available in Starbucks just yet.
  • While you won't find traditional Boba, Starbucks is brewing up its own version.
  • You can create a personalized version by combining Starbucks tea or coffee with store-bought tapioca pearls.  

Does Starbucks Have Boba On Their Menu?

The bubble tea market has grown exponentially as of late, so you’d think that all Starbucks locations would start capitalizing on that growing boba tea market.

Strangely enough, Starbucks doesn’t actually have any boba tea offerings - at least not at the moment.

Starbucks aren't sailing into bubble tea waters just yet, but according to a Business Insider post, Starbucks is testing out its own variation of tea and coffee boba drinks.[1]

These drinks contain coffee popping pearls and are available in two beverages: the Iced Chai Tea Latte and the classic Starbucks Cold Brew.

If you like a more traditional boba that's made with tea, then the Iced Chai Tea Latte with coffee popping pearls will be the one for you.

But if you’re a die-hard fan of coffee drinks, you’ll want to try the “In the Dark” as soon as it’s released, which is made with cold brew and coffee popping pearls.

Unfortunately for Starbucks fans, these boba tea style drinks can’t be ordered just yet.

The testing period started in December 2021 at two Californian stores in the chain, so we’re hoping that they will sell boba tea drinks at all Starbucks stores, as well as more Starbucks boba tea drinks, sooner rather than later.


What Exactly Is Boba?

Boba tea is a Taiwanese drink and is traditionally made from a combination of milk, tea, and chewy tapioca balls.

The tapioca balls in the boba tea, also called tapioca pearls or boba pearls, are created using a starchy ingredient found in cassava plant roots.

Usually, these delicious tapioca pearls are added to black tea or green tea. But if you’re not a fan of iced teas, they can also be added to actual coffee.

As of 2020, the global boba tea market is worth a whopping 2.32 billion USD, with bubble tea stores selling boba tea around the world.

So why is this Taiwanese boba tea drink taking over the world? Simple. The unique boba taste is unlike any other iced drink you’ll try, and the chewy tapioca pearls make for a creamy, delectable treat in the milky teas.

Does Starbucks Have Boba? (Guide For Bubble Tea Lovers)

Some popular milk tea boba flavors across Asia include:

  1. Classic Black Milk Tea - black tea, sweetened condensed milk/creamer, tapioca pearls
  2. Brown Sugar Milk Tea - milk, brown sugar syrup, tapioca pearls
  3. Taro Milk Tea - taro root puree/powder, jasmine or green tea, milk, sugar, tapioca pearls
  4. Mango Milk Tea - mango puree/juice, green tea, milk, simple syrup/honey, tapioca pearls
  5. Matcha Milk Tea - matcha powder, milk, syrup, tapioca pearls
  6. Oolong Milk Tea - oolong tea, milk, syrup, tapioca pearls
  7. Jasmine Green Milk Tea - jasmine tea, milk, syrup, tapioca pearls
  8. Peach Milk Tea - peach puree/juice, milk, syrup, tapioca pearls
  9. Honeydew Melon Milk Tea - honeydew melon puree/juice, milk, syrup, tapioca pearls

And that's just the milk teas! 

There are so many additions and toppings you can add besides tapioca pearls to get new flavors and textures - you can get a whole new sipping experience every time!


Starbucks' Coffee Popping Pearls Vs Traditional Boba

After hearing about the fabled Starbucks test run of coffee popping pearls, I couldn't help but wonder - how similar are they to traditional boba?

Popping pearls are small juice or jelly spheres with a thin burstable shell. They have the same shape as boba pearls but they burst like bubbles in your mouth when you chew. Then a sweet fruit juice or delicious jelly brings new flavor and texture to your drinking experience.

Boba pearls have a more consistent chewy texture rather than a popping jelly one.

Starbucks' coffee popping pearls were coffee flavored but had an odd salty sweetness that most boba pearl and syrup combos don't have.

3 Best Boba Tea Alternatives From Starbucks

Even though Starbucks boba tea isn’t officially offered yet, this coffee shop chain shouldn’t be entirely out of the picture for boba lovers.

There are a lot of customization options when it comes to Starbucks drinks, so even though they don't carry boba tea, you can mimic traditional boba tea style beverages.

One option is to add coffee jelly to your order, but just know that this won’t give you the same chewy texture as pearl tea.

1. Raspberry Milk Tea

Starbucks have boba or bubble tea alternatives with fruit flavors too.

The most popular alternative is to go with the secret menu Raspberry Milk Tea, especially if you’re a fan of raspberry flavoring.

Many boba tea drinks come with sweetened fruit syrup, so this will give you milky, fruit flavored milky teas which are similar to the classic boba or bubble tea that's served in Asian-style tea houses.

To join the boba tea train here’s what to ask for:

  • Order a grande Iced Black Tea with no sugar
  • Ask for half milk, and half water (you can go with dairy-free milk if you prefer)
  • Add 1.5 pumps of toffee nut syrup (2 if it’s a venti)
  • Add 1.5 pumps of raspberry syrup (2 if it’s a venti)
  • Add an extra pump of classic syrup (or a packet of brown sugar)
Barista HQ Tip: You can also order a basic brown sugar milk tea, which would contain the Teavana tea of your choosing, your choice of milk, and brown sugar.

2. Iced Teavana Tea

Another boba tea style option for Starbucks customers is to go with a simple Teavana tea.

There’s a wide variety of Teavana flavors on the Starbucks menu, and you can even purchase them in local grocery stores for DIY recipes.

Order an iced tea from the various flavors offered, then add your own delicious pearls at home.

3. Iced Chai Tea Latte With Coffee Popping Pearls

Another excellent base for a DIY boba drink is the Iced Chai Tea Latte.

If you spotted the viral TikTok about Starbucks trialing coffee popping pearls in 2021 [2] but couldn't try any yourself, this is your chance!

All you need to do is simply order an Iced Chai Tea Latte and add in some homemade coffee popping pearls. I gave this a go myself after seeing that intriguing customer feedback trial back in 2021 and loved almost boba-meets-a-dirty-chai vibe.

I used this coffee popping pearls recipe and loved how mine turned out! [3]

Starbucks Milk Tea Drinks

How To Make Your Own Boba Drink At Home

The first step will be to gather your ingredients and just try to have fun with it. In other words, if you want to try something new to create your own secret recipe, go for it!

In addition to fresh ingredients and a bit of creativity, here are a few more tips for making boba at home that will rival any Starbucks drink.

Purchase A Starbucks Tea (Or Make Your Own!)

The Teavana tea brand used by Starbucks offers tons of tea flavors, ranging anywhere from classic black to citrusy pineapple. Start by selecting your tea of choice; it can be the Teavana brand, but you’re not limited to that.

If you want to make your own boba tea based on the Starbucks version of the iced chai tea latte, grab some chai tea bags.

If you prefer a classic cup of Starbucks boba tea, use a black or green tea bag instead to create a black pearl milk tea or green pearl milk tea drink.

You can even ask for an iced shaken black tea with pearls to make it a refreshing cold drink.

For non-tea drinkers, it’s perfectly fine to use iced coffees instead of tea for your DIY recipes.

Try This Starbucks Tea For Boba Drinks!

[amazon box="B07QP9JCLB"]

Customize The Drink To Taste

As humans, we all have unique taste buds and different preferences when it comes to flavor and sweetness.

The beauty of making your own boba at home is that you can customize the drink based on what you like and leave out what you don't.

This step of the process is your time to shine. You can do a coffee-based latte with coffee pearls and add popular flavors like raspberry or mango.

Or you might consider using sweetened condensed milk as the base of your boba tea if you want an ultra sweet pearl milk tea, as the condensed milk is very rich.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, try the addition of liquid cane sugar to the pearl milk tea.

Barista HQ Tip: Regular sugar doesn't always dissolve well in cold drinks, so using a liquid sweetener in your recipe is worth considering.

Add Tapioca Pearls

Aside from milk and tea (or coffee, depending on your preference), the main ingredient in boba drinks is tapioca pearls (or coffee pearls).

Mix And Enjoy

Lastly, it’s time to combine all of your ingredients, mix them well, and start sipping. Remember, boba is best served cold, so pour everything over fresh ice.

Another helpful tip is to use a thick, wide straw; standard-sized straws aren’t large enough to suck up the pearls.

Homemade Boba Drink

Frequently Asked Boba Drinks Questions

Does Dunkin Donuts sell Boba?

Starbucks isn't the only coffee and tea brand considering adding boba to the menu. Dunkin Donuts recently started offering a popping boba drink using "popping bubbles." The only available flavor right now is strawberry, but this is likely to change in the future.

Also, keep an eye out for other food chains, like the burger chain Sonic, to start offering boba to their customers.

Where can you find Boba near you?

Because Starbucks stores aren’t yet offering traditional boba, you’ll probably want to check out other bubble tea stores in your area. You can do a quick Google Maps search to see what’s around.

If nothing comes up, your best option is to start making boba at home (at least until Starbucks boba officially becomes available).

Does Starbucks have or sell coffee pearls?

Yes! The company recently launched Starbucks boba coffee popping pearls in the United States. The treats are reminiscent of tapioca balls, and they’re filled with Brazilian coffee. Once bitten into, the balls burst in your mouth with flavor.

What can replace tapioca pearls in bubble tea?

Aside from boba pearls, you can get things like pudding or custard pieces, fruit popping bubbles, jelly pieces, and sweetened red beans at proper bubble tea stores.

You can also get toppings like mousse, cheese foam, chia seeds, and more to finish your drink with flair.

Is Bubble tea usually high in calories?

Yes, this tasty treat is usually pretty high in calories, especially with the addition of sweeteners and flavored syrups. A typical 500ml tea with tapioca pearls has about 325 calories. Most places now offer larger sizes, which can contain 500+ calories.

Does Bubble tea have caffeine?

It depends on the ingredients used. If using black or green tea, then yes, you will get an energy buzz.

The beauty of making your own boba at home is the ability to customize the drink, and that means you can leave out the caffeine by using decaffeinated ingredients.


Conclusion

So, does Starbucks sell boba tea? As of right now, there are no official boba drinks on the menu.

However, the good news for Starbucks fans is that they are testing new drinks all the time, and two drinks were recently offered in two test locations.

Because of its growing popularity around the world, I'm sure we'll see Starbucks have boba tea very soon.

Keep an eye out for the addition of boba tea to the Starbucks menu, or just start making yours at home!

References:

1. https://www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-boba-bubble-tea-iced-coffee-tapioca-popping-pearls-drink-2021-12?amp
2. https://www.elitedaily.com/news/starbucks-coffee-popping-pearls-boba-drink-test-coffee-chai

3. https://www.honestfoodtalks.com/starbucks-boba-recipe/

Caitlin Shaffer

Author

Caitlin Shaffer
Caitlin Shaffer, is a knowledgeable coffee expert and passionate writer. Her articles are a mix of personal experiences, insights gained from her travels, and interviews, offering an extensive view of the global coffee scene. Caitlin enjoys embarking on new travel adventures, often to destinations celebrated for their unique coffee offerings, from Indonesia to Italy and Colombia, adding a worldly flavor to her articles. Her go-to coffee? Cold brew with homemade vanilla syrup – a personal favorite that keeps her love for coffee fresh and exciting.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... cold brew with homemade vanilla syrup.

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