What is Boba? Your Introduction to Bursting Boba vs Tapioca Balls vs Crystal Boba

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Crystal Boba vs Bursting Boba vs Tapioca Balls.  What is Boba?

What is Boba? Your Introduction to Bursting Boba vs Tapioca Balls vs Crystal Boba

If you’ve spent any time in a tea shop or café lately and you consider yourself a connoisseur of tea, then it’s likely that you have been experimenting with bubble tea. Though bubble tea has been around for a while (it was invented in Taichung and Tainan in the 1980s), in recent years, it’s become quite popular. Tea aficionados and even those who just dabble in the beverage enjoy sipping on the delicious flavors and breathing in the aromatic scent of the various ingredients that are used in Boba.

Boba tea is made by combining tea of various varieties, a different type of milk, and sweetener (usually sugar, but any type can be used, such as Stevia or Yacon Syrup); similar to how any other type of tea is made, really. What set bubble tea apart, however, is the unique toppings that are added to it. These toppings can include various types of jellies, such as fruit, grass, or agar, and pudding; but crystal boba, popping pearls, and tapioca balls are the real shining stars of toppings that are used in this delightful beverage. They add a different dimension that makes the beverage truly exciting. Boba is the very essence of bubble tea. There are so many different flavors, sizes, colors, and textures of these edible balls. Depending on the type of boba added to your beverage (along with the type of tea, milk, and sweetener you choose), bubble tea can be milky, frothy, fruity, or even malted! It really is a delightful experience!

But as you sip on your bubble tea and sink your teeth into those chewy balls, you can’t help but wonder what those little pearls are. Below, we’ll shed some light on the most popular boba pearls that are used in bubble tea, from the most traditional varieties to the newly created styles.

Bursting Boba

Also known as popping pearls or popping boba, this is one of the most popular toppings used in bubble tea. They come in a variety of flavors and colors to create a truly one-of-a-kind flavor to your beverage. As you bite into these balls, you’ll notice that they have a chewy, yet quite pleasing texture. As soon as you sink your teeth into a popping boba pearl, your taste buds will be overwhelmed (in an amazing way) with incredible flavor.

Bursting boba features flavored juice, which is contained within a clear bubble. That bubble is made out of an extract of seaweed, which has a very mild flavor that is virtually unnoticeable against the juice that is held inside of it.  Bursting boba, as the name suggests, offers a burst of flavor that will truly satisfy your palate. Some of the different types of popping boba you can enjoy include:

  • Passion fruit
  • Strawberry
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Green apple
  • Pomegranate
  • Blueberry
  • Orange
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherry
  • Lemon
  • Yogurt


What is Boba?  Popping Pearls


Tapioca Balls

Tapioca balls are made from dried cassava root (also known as yucca, aipm, madiaco, and Brazilian arrowroot). This plant is a woody shrub that’s native to South America. Once the leaves have been removed from the plant, they turn into a starch, which is then turned into small balls that are used to create tapioca balls. This boba topping goes by a number of other names, such as pearls, orbeez, zhen zhu, BB, QQ, and momi. No matter what you call them, they’re tapioca balls or tapioca boba.

Once the tapioca balls harden, they are sweetened with honey or sugar, which completely disguises the mild tapioca taste.

You can enjoy tapioca balls at any fine boba tea establishment!

What is Boba?  Dried Tapioca Pearls


Crystal Boba

Last – but most certainly not least – of the dazzling toppings that can be used to flavor your bubble tea is crystal boba. It’s considered a specialty boba because it’s truly unique; even more so than the previously mentioned boba pearl options. It’s also known as agar boba or white pearl tapioca because of the whitish-clear coloring.

Crystal boba has a texture that is chewy, yet it isn’t as gelatinous as other types of boba pearls.

Crystal Boba is unique because you can infuse it with other coloring and flavors.  So if you want to make brown or black sugar boba, you just have to soak Crystal Boba in a mixture for 10 minutes. You can infuse crystal boba with any type of flavor you’d like!   

Wrapping It Up

Whether you enjoy sipping bubble tea at your favorite café, you own your own establishment, or you’d like to make this delightfully refreshing beverage at home, you’ll be delighted by these three wonderful boba options.

Whether you choose bursting boba, tapioca balls, or crystal boba, you’ll be sure to enjoy an oh-so-satisfying experience that will delight your senses! Each time you bite into one of these pearls, your taste buds will be saturated with an incredible burst of flavor.

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