Boba tea has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, and many people are foregoing iced coffee beverages 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!
While it may not seem to be your cup of tea - pun intended - it’s worth giving boba a shot. As the most successful tea and coffee chain in the world, you’re probably wondering whether or not you can order boba at your local Starbucks store.
Let's find out if the Starbucks menu currently includes boba tea, as well as some DIY ideas for making this popular drink at home.
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 market. Strangely enough, Starbucks doesn’t actually have any boba tea offerings - at least not at the moment.
According to a Business Insider post, Starbucks is testing out its own variation of tea and coffee boba drinks.  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 coffee fan, 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 can’t be ordered just yet. The testing period started in December 2021 at two stores in the chain, so we’re hoping that they will sell boba tea drinks at all Starbucks stores, as well as more boba drinks, sooner rather than later.
What Exactly Is Boba?
Boba tea is a mystery to many westerners, which is no surprise considering this beverage is predominantly served in Asia. Boba tea originated in Taiwan sometime in the 1940s, and it’s traditionally made from a combination of milk, tea, and chewy tapioca balls.
The tapioca balls, also called tapioca pearls or boba pearls, are created using a starchy ingredient found in cassava plant roots.
Usually, these delicious 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. So why is this Taiwanese 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.
The taste is often described as "oddly salty sweet." That's all thanks to the combo of salty tapioca starch and sweet classic syrup flavors that are often used.
What Should Those Seeking Bubble Tea Order At 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 you can order your next one to mimic traditional boba 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.
Raspberry Milk Tea
The most popular alternative is to go with the Raspberry Milk Tea, especially if you’re a fan of raspberry flavoring.
Many boba tea drinks come with sweetened fruit syrup, so this will at least give you a milky, fruity flavor profile of classic boba that's served in Asian-style tea houses.
When ordering the Raspberry Milk Tea, here’s what to ask for:
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.
Iced Teavana Tea
Another 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.
If these alternatives still aren’t close enough to real boba, there’s one more thing you can do. Order an iced tea from the various flavors offered, then add your own boba pearls at home.
How To Make Your Own Boba Drink At Home
Because Starbucks doesn’t officially carry boba tea just yet, you might want to take it upon yourself to create your own boba drinks 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 bubble tea, use a black or green tea bag instead.
For non-tea drinkers, it’s perfectly fine to use iced coffee instead of tea for your DIY recipes. You can either brew your own coffee and pour it over ice or use a premade cold brew - it’s completely up to you!
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 if you want an ultra sweet pearl milk tea.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, try the addition of liquid cane sugar. 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). Many Asian and Asian American communities make their own from scratch, but you can buy yours online or in local grocery stores.
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 straw; standard-sized straws aren’t large enough to suck up the pearls.
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 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 tapioca starch, there are a few different substitutes that can be used to make boba pearls.  These include cornstarch, cassava flour, potato starch, arrowroot powder, or even regular baking flour.
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 milk 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.
So, does Starbucks have boba? As of right now, there are no official boba drinks on the menu. However, Starbucks is testing new drinks all the time, and two drinks were recently offered in two test locations.
Because of its growing popularity around the world, you can definitely expect Starbucks boba to become a thing in the near future. Keep an eye out for the addition of boba tea to the Starbucks menu, or just start making yours at home!