Boba tea, also known as milk tea or bubble tea, is a trendy beverage that has been increasing in popularity over the last few years.
In fact, many interpretations of this exotic thirst quencher have been popping up in cafes, coffee shops, and kiosks across America.
Apart from classic bubble teas served by chains like Chatime, there are now even a few fascinating coffee-based boba beverages. This begs the question, does Starbucks have boba tea?
After all, Starbucks carries an array of other trending drink options for selective consumers to sample.
In this guide, we will discuss what variations of boba you might be able to find at Starbucks stores located in California.
Unfortunately, other Starbucks locations don’t serve any bubble tea — at least not yet!
We’ll also go over exactly what boba tea is, where it comes from, and why it is so popular these days.
Does Starbucks Have Boba Tea?
So, does Starbucks sell boba tea? If so, what kind?
Well, that will depend on where you live. Not all Starbucks stores offer boba tea as a drink option.
In fact, most Starbucks locations in the US still don’t have any bubble tea or boba tea drinks for sale.
However, soon, Starbucks might start offering a coffee rendition of boba. Based on a piece in Business Insider, Starbucks has been working on its own interpretation of bubble tea in an effort to get in on the milk tea game.
There is also a viral TikTok video that shows a Starbucks store sign advertising “Coffee Popping Pearls” and gives a sneak peek at how the new drinks look and taste:
Will these drinks ever make their way to the Starbucks menu?
It all depends on how the market testing goes.
About Starbucks Boba Coffee Drinks
Starbucks recently created two different boba-style coffee drinks, and they are market-testing them now.
One is an Iced Chai Tea Latte-based drink and the other is called “In the Dark”.
These drinks feature “coffee pearls” instead of the traditional tapioca pearls you would find in classic boba teas.
The round coffee pearls are similar to the boba versions in size and texture. However, they taste like coffee instead of fruit and are rumored to be a tad salty.
Since these beverages aren’t officially for sale nationwide, getting your hands on them won’t be easy. At least, not yet.
In fact, only limited Starbucks stores in California currently have these “market test” beverages available. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if boba isn’t on your nearest Starbucks drive-through menu.
With that being said, the world-famous coffee chain does seem to be very interested in the potential of these libations. As such, if the testing of boba-coffee popularity goes well, Starbucks fans might start soon seeing more options.
Next, let’s see what these exciting new coffee pearl drinks are made of:
1. In the Dark
If you like dark coffee with a smooth mouthfeel, delicately sweet nuances, and boba, this drink might be for you.
In The Dark is a cold brew coffee drink that plays off of the classic combo of espresso and drip grind coffee. With boba pearls mixed in, it is priced at $5.25 and comes in a Grande (16-ounce) size.
2. Iced Chai Tea Latte with Coffee Pearls
Iced Chai Tea Lattes are sweetly spiced, creamy, and downright delicious Starbucks tea drinks. So it makes perfect sense that the coffee chain would use this as a test platform for boba.
The Iced Chai Tea Latte uses the same popular chai base with boba coffee peals layered on ice.
What Exactly is Boba Tea?
Boba tea is a drink made using tapioca pearls and sweetened milk tea.
It first started getting popular in the 1990s. Since then, it has become a trendy and aesthetically interesting option, with consumers drinking it more and more frequently in the United States.
Chewy, slippery boba pearls can contain an array of ingredients and flavorings. They blend with many tea types to create interesting flavor combinations.
The Origins of Boba Tea
Boba tea, also commonly called bubble tea, originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. This drink was at first made using tea, milk, and spherical sweetened tapioca pearls.
So what exactly started the boba craze in America?
Bubble tea was introduced to the United States already in the 1990s by Taiwanese migrants, but it didn’t become popular right away.
The wild demand started out from social media as the milk tea shops created aesthetic drinks that the customers started posting on their social media accounts. This started first happening in Asia and quickly spread to Europe and North America as well.
While this tea started out as a local Taiwanese confection, you can now find bubble tea shops popping up all over the USA. Check out my list of Gong Cha top 10 drinks if you want to try some.
It stands to reason that Starbucks would want in on the action!
Perhaps, that’s why they are testing out boba-inspired coffee pearl drinks at select locations.
How Does it Taste?
Boba drinks are intriguing in both taste and texture. Their sweet spherical “pearls” create a mouthfeel that’s smooth, pliable, and amusing.
Since boba pearls maintain their shapes for quite a while in liquid, bubble tea drinks are flavorful, fun, and fascinating in consistency.
Tapioca itself has a very mild taste. However, it can easily absorb other flavors and essences.
Therefore, jellied boba pearls can easily be flavored in countless ways and customized to meet just about anyone’s palette.
The Ingredients of Boba Tea
Generally, a boba tea drink will contain:
- Tapioca pearls
The pearls in boba tea are most commonly made using tapioca starch, which comes from the root of the cassava plant. The starch is then shaped into silky, smooth, springy spheres that burst in your mouth when you suck them into a wide straw.
The tea in a boba drink can be made in many ways as well. Boba drinks can use green tea, fruit tea, black tea, or even coffee.
Moreover, the dairy milk in boba tea can be substituted as well. You can also get boba tea drinks made with coconut milk, almond milk, and more.
Final Thoughts on Starbucks Bubble Tea
In conclusion, yes, Starbucks “boba coffee” drinks are now a thing!
And they are made using coffee pearls instead of the standard tapioca pearls that traditional bubble tea beverages contain. Unfortunately, you can only try them if your local Starbucks happens to be in California and is also testing out boba-coffee products.
But that’s not all, I have more exciting news for you — the Dunkin’ Donuts boba drinks are here!
Different from Starbucks, these popping bubbles have a strawberry flavor.
Are you one of the lucky ones who’s tried a Starbucks boba coffee drink?
Drop a comment below and let us know what it was like!
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