The Guide to Ordering “Boba” Drinks

It’s like the Asian version of Starbucks, except three times cheaper with ten times the variety to choose from. Bubble milk tea has been a global trend since its origin in Taichung in the early 1980s. The icy cool drink consists of a mixture of brewed tea and milk, topped with chewy black balls of tapioca (also known as boba).

However, the original boba milk tea drink may not be suitable for everyone; for it may be a bit sickly sweet to a firstcomer’s tastebuds, or even a little too cold for comfort for others. The great thing about Taiwan beverages is that the sugar and ice content of your drink can be tailored to your liking. Here’s a breakdown of the options that many shops offer:


Full Sugar: 100% (全糖)
Less Sugar: 70%~80%  (少糖)
Half sugar: 50%(半糖)
Some sugar: 20%~30% (微糖)
No Sugar: 0% (無糖)


Regular Ice: (正常冰)
Less Ice: (少冰)
No Ice: (去冰)
Warm: (溫飲)
Hot: (熱飲)

A number of boba tea franchises, including Come Buy, Coco, and 50 Lan (50嵐), also sell different variations of the boba tea drink. You can mix and match from a variety of fresh juice, tea, and coffee into the toppings of your choice. Tapioca balls are just a start — here are some of the most common toppings:

Tapioca (珍珠)


These pearl shaped toppings are most commonly associated with milk tea. The soft chewy texture is what adds to the fun of drinking this beverage; it gives you something to chew on while enjoying the cold refreshing brew of tea.

Photo Credit –   CoCo Official Site 






Konjac Jelly (椰果)

As you first bite down upon one, you can taste the sugary burst of flavor let out by the clear rectangular jelly. Konjac jelly comes in white and red colors, and is also used in other Taiwanese desserts such as jello and shaved ice.

Photo Credit – Gong Cha Official Site







Grass Jelly (仙草)


Grass Jelly is liquidized from the leaves of Mesona chinensis (a plant believed to have cooling properties) and then solidified to create a black jelly-like appearance. This topping can also be served alone, drizzled with sugar syrup or cut up into squares to put into beverages.

Photo Credit – CoCo Official Site






Pudding (布丁)


Traditionally a popular cold desert that could be found at your local convenience store, egg pudding is a yellow solid of a jello consistency. It is preferable added into milk tea drinks.

Photo via CoCo Official Site







Custom tailor a drink perfectly accustomed to your taste, whether it be a passion fruit tea with grass jelly and konjac jelly, or a boba milk tea with no ice and half the amount of sugar. The possibilities are endless with your own preference of sugar content, iciness, and topping choice.

What’s your favorite custom drink?

Feature photo via Come Buy

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