What Is The Difference Between Boba And Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea is something that has really taken the world by storm. Not only here in the USA, but across the pond in the UK too, an increasing number of people are really falling in love with this new and exciting type of drink. 

Part of the reason why Bubble tea, or Boba, has become so popular is because of social media. This type of drink looks cool, and that alone is enough to get people drinking it. The fact that it also tastes great is just a bonus.

What Is The Difference Between Boba And Bubble Tea

In this guide, we’re taking a look at Bubble tea and Boba to find out what the difference is between the two, and if there is even a difference between these two drinks. 

Keep on reading to find out more! 

What Is The Difference Between Boba And Bubble Tea?

So, let’s dive right in and take a look at what the difference is between Boba and Bubble tea. Well, the first difference between the two is the name – one is called Boba, the other Bubble tea.

However, these names are often used interchangeably so that alone isn’t enough to make these two drinks different. 

But what about the ingredients? Is there anything that makes Boba and Bubble tea (see also: Is Bubble Tea Bad For Your Health? The Facts About Boba)different from each other? Well, in reality, there actually isn’t any difference in the ingredients.

Of course, depending on the flavor of the drink that you choose, the ingredients list will differ. However, the base ingredients for both of these drinks are almost identical. 

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is where they are known and what name they are known by. In the USA, we will often refer to this drink as Boba, but across the Pond, they tend to call it Bubble Tea.

Bubble Tea has existed in the UK since the 1990s, and throughout this time it has always been known as “bubble tea”. Whereas, here we tend to refer to it as Boba.

But is this alone enough to classify bubble tea and Boba as two different things? Well, that really is up for debate. Let’s take a look.

Are Boba And Bubble Tea The Same?

At an ingredient level, there really is no denying that Bubble tea and Boba are pretty much the same things. The intention behind both drinks is identical, and the ingredients used are almost always the same too.

So does this mean that these drinks are the same thing?

Well, yes. A lot of people are now happy enough to refer to Boba and Bubble tea as the same thing. Depending on where you are in the world, and which store you are buying your drink from, you may notice them using a different name.

However, almost always, these names will be used interchangeably. So, if you like Boba, you will like bubble tea and vice versa. 

On this basis, we would be happy to say that these two drinks are the same thing. However, some people will argue the opposite. But when you look at the ingredients, you will be able to tell for yourself that these two drinks are the same.

What Is The Difference Between Boba And Bubble Tea

What Are Boba Balls Made Of?

The main feature that makes bubble tea, or Boba, so attractive is the balls that are found in the drink. These balls can be new and exciting, and those alone are enough to tempt people to try Boba. But what are Boba balls made of?

Generally, Boba balls will be made using tapioca starch. This starch is found in the root of the Cassava plant, and it is extracted before being made to use the balls that are found in Boba.

Many people are mistaken in thinking that Boba balls are made of gelatin, due to their texture and consistency, however, this isn’t the case. Boba balls are made using plant-based products which makes them safe for vegans. 

The small balls are then filled with different juices and different styles of tapioca balls will be added to your Boba depending on the flavor of Bubble tea (see also: The Best Of Bubble Tea: A Guide To Best Boba Toppings And Bubble Tea Flavor Combinations)that you want.

The whole purpose of the juice-filled balls is that they infuse your tea with a small amount of the flavor, and then allow you to experience the full flavor when the ball pops in your mouth. 

The idea of the ball popping in your mouth has partly contributed to this drink being referred to as bubble tea. Once they enter the mouth, these balls will typically pop, like bubbles, filling your mouth with the delicious flavors of the juices inside. 

Do You Eat Pearls In Bubble Tea?

When it is your first time-consuming Boba, you might find yourself uncertain about what to do with the bubbles in the drink.

Until you actually put one of these bubbles in your mouth, it is easy to assume that they are made of plastic or material that isn’t safe for consumption. However, this isn’t the case. The pearls in bubble tea are perfectly safe to consume.

As we have just established, the pearls in bubble tea will be made using tapioca starch. This edible ingredient has a jelly-like texture when consumed, but can look pretty solid until you touch it.

This is what makes some people think you can’t eat the pearls. 

However, it is safe to eat tapioca balls in bubble tea. In fact, it is advised that you do so as they are an integral part of the drink itself.

Typically, the pearls will be filled with juice, and this can make it really delicious to consume them. So don’t forget to give one of the pearls a taste next time you drink Boba.


In short, there isn’t really a difference between Bubble tea and Boba, other than the name itself. 

Both of these drinks are made using the same ingredients, and they will typically taste very similar too. Generally, the only difference between the two will be the name, as different companies will choose to use a different name for their drinks. 

Thanks for reading!

Joanne Baltimore
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