Every boba lover knows the feeling: you walk into a store, you want to try something new (not just your regular order, you know), and you’re overwhelmed by the variety of choices. It even happens to us — and we’re professional tea lovers!
So to stop veteran boba enthusiasts from falling back into the same old routine and to show beginners the true delights of this beverage, we’ve put together a quick guide of the classic flavours so you should be set to order anywhere.
Classic milk teas: the go-to flavour of choice
Milk tea with tapioca toppings might seem basic when compared to the full range of available flavours today, but before boba became a phenomenon, the classic “pearl milk tea” was the original offering in 1980s Taiwan.
Even today, Taiwan’s culinary culture is inspired by the island’s Dutch colonial period 300 years prior — and this influence is what led to the incorporation of milk and sugar into their tradition of drinking this delicious beverage.
As for the addition of tapioca, there are a variety of origin stories which abound and the particularities remain hotly debated, but we do know for sure that pearls were introduced to Taiwan by members of the Hokkien ethnic group (traditionally from Southern China). Over the years, tapioca has come to be served over shaved ice in Vietnam and Korea, as coconut sago in Hong Kong and, of course, as the syrup-encased classic topping for boba milk tea.
After it started to develop a cult following, vendors moved away from simply offering Assam or other black milk teas, diversifying their range into other milk-based flavours (including matcha, taro and more).
Fruit bubble tea: the perfect summer flavour
If you’re a true boba lover, your cravings are guaranteed to stir you up all year round. But when it’s 30 degrees and sunny, you might not feel like a classic milky option to keep you warm and toasty.
This is the weather-based dilemma that led to both Taiwanese and Californian shops to develop fruit juice-based alternatives, with exploding bubbles of course! Today’s fruit offerings often use powders and syrups to achieve a classic and refreshing option for you all year round. (Think of it as a bubble tea answer to the infamous ‘pink drink’.)
Brown sugar tea: for your inner sweet-tooth
Let us let you in on a little secret… there’s not actually any tea in brown sugar tea. It’s simply unrefined brown sugar syrup, your milk of choice and your favourite topping, so if you’re a dessert lover, this should be your go-to order.
A relative newcomer to the boba game, brown sugar boba was developed in Taichung, Taiwan to evoke nostalgia and classic Chinese dessert flavours. It became an immediate hit not only due to the taste (and the fact it’s the perfect after-dinner treat) but also because it’s so aesthetically pleasing with its classic molten gold colour.
So there you have it! Whether you’re new or old to the boba game, we can’t wait to share more about our favourite infusions… and in the meantime, you can do an easy at-home degustation with our DIY kits to find your own signature drink.