Bubble tea/boba tea is the Taiwanese craze that has taken over America. With what seems like a million different options, it can be overwhelming the first time you order. In our guide to boba tea, we break down what to get so you leave craving more of that boba goodness.
Most boba shops will have a variety of tea choices. If you are looking for the most traditional option, milk teas are the way to go. These are often sweet and creamy, and you get a little bit of green tea taste with a lot of sugary milkiness.
Taro – Taro milk tea has a little bit of purple color poured into the glass. However, don’t let the looks deceive you that this is grape flavored. Instead, it tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch in liquid form. If you told us that you took milk-soaked cinnamon toast crunch and packaged it up then we would have believed you.
Brown Sugar – Probably one of the most photogenic of the boba teas, the beige milk base contrasts with the sweet brown sugar syrup that is added to this drink. It looks almost like a squid shooting ink into the sea. The brown sugar brings a rich caramel flavor that is creamy and sweet. This will win over anyone with a sweet tooth.
Fruit Tea – For those looking to avoid the lactose, fruit tea is the way to go. Although this is not the most traditional route, fruit teas are light, refreshing, and often include chia seeds for texture.
Specialty Teas – These are non-traditional flavors which not all tea shops will carry. These include flavors like Oreo or Tiramisu. Rich and full of flavor, these teas take on the characteristics of a milkshake. Chains such as Vivi Bubble Tea will carry these items, most of which you will not find at your average tea shop.
Now that we know some of the flavors, what are those squishy balls at the bottom, and why are they so addicting to suck up your straw?
These jelly-like balls are made from tapioca. They explode in your mouth as you bite down on them, almost like large balls of caviar. If you are a sensitive “texture person,” you can always order your tea without these delightful balls.
Over recent years, boba tea shops have been stepping up their game, and many have expanded past offering just tea. While every spot will offer something different, we’re going to highlight a few of the favorites that we’ve come across so far:
Egg Waffle Ice Cream: What’s better in the summer than ice cream on a sugar cone? Ice cream on a fresh waffle. The “egg” comes from the round shape of the mold made to create the waffle.
Popcorn Chicken: Sweet and savory is an all-time combo. These popable bites of chicken are the perfect snack and are the “yin to boba tea’s yang.”
Banh Mi Sandwiches: Mixing cultures, banh mi sandwiches are traditonally Vietnamese, but have been gaining popularity in boba shops. Typically served on a baguette with pickles, carrots, and pork, these are a fantastic quick and tasty bite.