What Are The Bubbles in Bubble Tea? (Explained)

Ingredients used in bubble tea

So, you have been hearing about this new drink called bubble tea and you are eager to try it. But, you may be wondering, what are the bubbles in bubble tea? Those special, mystical, balls that give the drink its unique texture and flavor? I’m sure you have seen them before – they are small, round, and often brightly colored. They are also very chewy, and some people say they resemble jelly beans.

We have written this comprehensive guide to help you understand what are the bubbles in bubble tea, what they are made of, how they are added to the drink, what is the difference between tea with bubbles and without bubbles, and how to make your own bubbles at home!

What is bubble tea?

Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is a Taiwanese tea-based drink that has become popular all over the world. It is made with tea, milk, and chewy tapioca pearls (also known as boba or balls). Bubble tea can be made with either black tea, green tea, or oolong tea.

What are the bubbles in bubble tea?

The bubbles, or boba, in bubble tea are small, round balls made from tapioca flour. When cooked, they have a chewy texture and are often compared to jelly beans. Boba come in a variety of colors, including clear, yellow, brown, and black. You can find them pre-made at most Asian markets, or you can make them at home using tapioca flour and water.

How are bubbles made?

The bubbles in bubble tea are typically made from tapioca which itself is a starch extracted from the cassava plant. The tapioca pearls are made by combining the tapioca starch with water and sugar. Unlike wheat flour or cornstarch, tapioca flour is gluten-free and does not contain any allergens. This makes it a popular choice for people with food allergies or sensitivities.

Sometimes, other ingredients such as fruit juice, honey, or chocolate may be added to the tapioca floor while making bubbles to give them an inetersting flavor. The tapioca flour balls once cooked, will be added to the tea and you have a refreshing drink.

Now, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Getting the tapioca pearls to the perfect consistency – chewy, but not too chewy – is a process that takes a lot of practice and experience.

How is consistency achieved for the bubbles in bubble tea?

The tapioca balls are cooked in a large pot of water, and then they are drained and cooled. This process is repeated several times until the tapioca pearls are cooked to perfection. Not everyone can achieve this perfect consistency, which is why bubble tea from a professional bubble tea shop will always taste better than bubble tea that you make at home.

After the tapioca pearls are cooked, they are typically sweetened with sugar and then flavored with fruit juice or other flavorings. 

Illustrative picture of Bubble tea 4 different flavors
An illustration of bubble tea drinks with 4 flavors including blueberry, strawberry, orange and green apple

                            Source: Pikisuperstar from Freepik

The tapioca pearls are then added to the tea and served with a wide straw so that you can enjoy the chewy texture of the tapioca pearls as you drink your bubble tea. The tea is typically black tea, green tea, or oolong tea, but other types of tea can be used as well. Fruit juices and syrups are also added to the bubble tea to give it flavor.

But what is tapioca?

We talked about the complete process of how tapioca pearls are made, but what is tapioca?

Tapioca is a starch that is extracted from the cassava root. Cassava is a woody shrub that is native to South America. The cassava root is long and tapered, and it can grow up to two feet in length. The inside of the root is white and fleshy, and it contains a high concentration of starch.

Tapioca is made by extracting the starch from the cassava root. The extracted starch is then purified and formed into small pearls. These pearls are what are used to make bubbles in bubble tea.

What are the Bubbles Called in Bubble Tea?

We talked about it earlier but I guess I wasn’t clear. You might think bubbles are bubbles, but there are two types of bubbles in bubble tea – tea with bubbles and without bubbles. The tapioca pearls that we just talked about are called boba, and tea with boba is called boba milk tea. So, when you order classic bubble tea, you are actually ordering boba tea.

You can call them any name you want – boba, boba pearls, bubbles, pearls – but they all mean the same thing. It also depends on where you live. In some parts of the world, people might refer to tapioca pearls as sago pearls.

Also, there are many different variations of bubble tea, but the most common type is black tea with tapioca pearls. Other variations include green tea, oolong tea, pearl milk tea, and fruit tea. Bubble tea can also be made with different kinds of juices, syrups, and flavorings.

How are the bubbles added to the drink?

The bubbles are typically added to the drink using a special tool called a bubble tea straw. The straw is wide and has a small hole in the middle. This allows you to suck up the tapioca pearls and drink them along with the tea.

You can also add bubbles to the drink without using a straw. Simply add the tapioca pearls to the tea and enjoy them as you drink. The pearls will sink to the bottom of the cup, so be sure to give the drink a good stir before drinking. I would also recommend using a wide cup so that you can easily access the tapioca pearls. This is because the tapioca pearls are very chewy, and you will want to be able to get to them easily.

How do the bubbles taste like?

The taste of the bubbles will depend on how they are cooked and what they are flavored with. Typically, the bubbles are sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with fruit juice or other flavorings. I have had bubble tea that tasted like mango, strawberry, and even chocolate. The possibilities are endless!

The bubbles themselves have a chewy texture, and they are often compared to gummy bears. The chewiness is what makes bubble tea so unique and addicting. Once you start drinking bubble tea, it is hard to stop!

What are popping bubbles in the tea?

Popping bubbles, also known as popping boba, are tapioca pearls that have been infused with fruit juice. They are named after the popping sound that they make when you bite into them.

Popping bubbles are typically made with fruit juice, but they can also be made with other liquids like chocolate or coffee. The most popular flavor of popping bubbles is strawberry, but you can find them in a variety of other flavors as well.

Popping bubbles are a fun and unique addition to bubble tea, and they are sure to surprise and delight your taste buds. If you are looking for a bubble tea that is out of the ordinary, then I recommend trying tea with popping bubbles.

How long do the bubbles last in the drink?

The bubbles will last as long as the tea does. If you add milk to your bubble tea, then the bubbles will start to dissolve. This is because milk contains a protein that breaks down the tapioca starch.

Bubble tea orange flavor drink
Two perfect iced glasses of orange flavor tea on the table

Source: Jennifer R from Unsplash

To prevent the bubbles from dissolving, you can add ice to your bubble tea. The ice will help keep the bubbles fresh and intact. You can also store your bubble tea in the fridge for a few hours. This will help keep the bubbles fresh and perky.

How can I make bubbles at home?

If you are new to bubble tea, then I recommend buying a pre-made kit. These kits come with everything you need to make bubble tea, including tapioca pearls, tea, and flavorings.

If you are feeling adventurous, then you can also make your own pearls at home. This is a bit more involved, but it is definitely possible. There are many recipes and tutorials online that will show you how to make tapioca pearls.

There are a few different ways that you can make bubbles at home. One way is to cook the tapioca pearls in a pot of water. Another way is to use a bubble tea kit. Whichever method you choose, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Making bubble tea at home is a fun and easy way to enjoy this delicious drink. With a little practice, you will be able to make perfect bubbles every time.

What is the ratio of adding bubbles to bubble tea?

The bubbles are typically added to the drink in a ratio of 1:1, meaning that for every ounce of tea, you will add one ounce of tapioca pearls. This can be adjusted to your liking, but I find that this ratio is the perfect amount of bubbles for me. It really depends on how much you like bubbles in your bubble tea.

If you want more bubbles, you can add more tapioca pearls. If you want less bubbles, you can add less quantity. It’s really up to you! Usually, professionals make very precise measurements when making bubble tea, but at home, you can just eyeball it.

Do all bubble teas have bubbles?

No, not all bubble teas have bubbles. Bubble tea is a type of tea that can be made with or without bubbles. If you want a bubble-free tea, simply omit the tapioca pearls from the recipe. Also, some bubble tea recipes use fruit jellies. These are also chewy, but they are made with fruit juices and gelatin.

Also read: History of Bubble Tea

What is the difference between tea with bubbles and without bubbles?

That’s really an interesting question. The main difference is in the texture of the drink. Bubble tea that contains tapioca pearls is chewy, while bubble tea without these pearls is not. Bubble tea without tapioca pearls is also typically less sweet than bubble tea with tapioca pearls.

A hand holding blueberry flavor of bubble tea in the noon
Green background, green tea, and bokeh trees.

Source: Jcomp from freepik

I personally prefer bubble tea with these pearls because I like the chewy texture. I also find that bubble tea without tapioca pearls is not as filling. If you are looking for a light and refreshing drink, I would recommend trying bubble tea without tapioca pearls.

How is bubble tea different from regular tea?

Bubble tea is different from regular tea in a few ways. First, bubble tea typically contains milk, while regular tea does not. This gives bubble tea a richer and creamier flavor. Second, bubble tea is sweetened with sugary syrup, while regular tea is typically not. This makes bubble tea a bit sweeter than regular tea. Finally, bubble tea contains tapioca pearls, while regular tea does not.


Bubble tea is a delicious and refreshing drink that can be enjoyed with or without bubbles. If you want to add bubbles to your bubble tea, simply add tapioca pearls to the recipe. If you want bubble-free tea, simply remove the pearls. You can still add fruit juices to the tea to give it flavor. Also, some bubble tea recipes use fruit jellies instead of tapioca pearls. These are also chewy, but they are made with fruit juices and gelatin. Whichever way you choose to enjoy your bubble tea, I hope you enjoy it! So, that’s it. We not only answered your questions about what are the bubbles in bubble tea but also explained everything related to it. 


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