Boba or bubble tea has become an international sensation. The sweet, chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom of these milk teas originating from Taiwan have captured the hearts and tastebuds of people all over the world. With boba shops popping up in cities across the globe, fans of this delicious drink are wondering if they can also get their boba fix at coffee giant Starbucks. So does Starbucks have boba?
Does Starbucks Have Boba?
The short answer is no, Starbucks currently does not offer boba drinks on their menu. While they have experimented with some boba-inspired beverages like the “In the Dark” black milk tea and “Iced Chai Tea Latte with Coffee Pearls”, you cannot walk into a Starbucks right now and order a straightforward boba milk tea with tapioca pearls.
However, just because Starbucks doesn’t have boba on their menu yet doesn’t mean you can’t craft a drink with similar flavors. There are a few ways to order an iced tea or coffee beverage that tastes akin to a boba milk tea. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Order an iced tea: Opt for a bold black tea like the Teavana Shaken Iced Black Tea. Ask for milk or an alt-milk like soy or almond to be added. Request less sweetener and then add your own brown sugar syrup to control the sweetness.
2. Add fruit flavors: Get fruit pieces like strawberries or blackberries or fruit syrups like raspberry or peach added to your iced tea. The fruit flavors complement the creamy milk.
3. Top with coffee jelly: Starbucks offers coffee flavored jelly pieces that add a similar chewy texture as boba. Ask for them to be added to your drink for an extra boba-like quality.
4. Choose an iced coffee: Go for something like a vanilla iced coffee with milk and enhance it with mocha sauce or hazelnut syrup and coffee jellies for a boba milk tea type of drink.
So while not exactly the same, you can craft a Starbucks beverage with boba-esque flavors, textures, and qualities to satisfy your craving.
Starbucks’ Experimentation with Boba Tea
While boba tea is not officially on the menu at Starbucks currently, they have dipped their toes into the boba arena before. Back in 2021, Starbucks locations in Asia tested out some boba-inspired drinks to gauge interest.
The two test products offered were the “In the Dark” chilled black milk tea with coffee pearls and the “Iced Chai Tea Latte with Coffee Pearls”. Feedback on these experimental boba-style beverages must have been positive, because Starbucks has said they are interested in potentially opening standalone boba tea shops in the future.
So while you still can’t walk into your local Starbucks and order straight up boba tea, this test phase shows that Starbucks is aware of the popularity of boba and the potential for it to be a profitable menu item. If the demand continues to grow, Starbucks offering boba tea or even operating boba shops could absolutely be on the horizon.
Substitutes for Boba You Can Find at Starbucks
Since Starbucks doesn’t currently serve actual tapioca pearl boba, what can you order instead to satisfy that craving for something flavorful, sweet, and chewy? Thankfully, the Starbucks menu offers a variety of tasty options:
Starbucks has an array of refreshing iced teas ranging from fruity flavors to herbal flavors. Opt for an iced tea like the Raspberry Black Tea or the Peach Green Tea to mimic some of the fruity flavors found in boba milk tea. The Teavana Iced Pineapple Black Tea also has a tropical fruit boba feel.
For something fruity and fizzy, try one of the Starbucks Refreshers. The Strawberry Acai Refresher and Mango Dragonfruit Refresher have bright pops of berry and tropical flavors to satisfy that craving for fruitiness that boba milk teas offer.
While not the same as tapioca pearls, Starbucks does offer coffee flavored jellies that can add a fun chewy element to your drinks. They won’t give you quite the same boba experience but can provide a mouthfeel closer to boba than just drinking a standard iced coffee or tea.
Custom Iced Coffees
You can craft an iced coffee beverage and customize it to be closer to a boba milk tea. Options like adding milk, flavored syrups, and coffee jellies can make something like an iced vanilla latte or iced mocha reminiscent of a boba style drink.
So while not exactly replicas, these Starbucks menu items allow you to mix and match flavors, textures, and components to create a boba milk tea-esque beverage.
All About Starbucks
Before diving more into boba tea, it helps to know a bit about Starbucks itself. Founded in 1971 in Seattle, Starbucks grew from a local coffee roaster into the giant international coffeehouse brand it is today. They now have over 32,000 stores worldwide.
So what makes Starbucks so popular and successful? Several factors:
- Luxurious, “Instagramable” store atmosphere – modern, comfy seating and aesthetically pleasing décor.
- Highly customizable menu – wide range of specialty coffee drinks, teas, bakery items that can be personalized in different ways.
- Consistent, high-quality coffee – using premium arabica beans. Starbucks coffee has a signature smooth, rich flavor.
- Convenient locations – stores on practically every urban street corner.
- Brand loyalty – Starbucks is seen as an affordable luxury that people are proud to drink daily.
With this winning formula, Starbucks has become the go-to coffee shop for millions looking for great coffee served in a posh yet casual environment.
What Is Boba?
So if Starbucks doesn’t currently offer it, what exactly is boba? Boba, also called bubble tea or pearl milk tea, is a sweet drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. The “boba” refers to the chewy tapioca pearls boiled in a sugary syrup that sit at the bottom of the cup.
These large black tapioca pearls are made from cassava root starch. They have a gummy, chewy texture and soak up the flavor of the sugary liquid they are boiled in.
Boba pearls are then added to a creamy blended tea ranging from classic black tea to fruit flavors like strawberry or mango. Sometimes flavored powder or syrup is mixed in for extra sweetness. The result is a cold, refreshing tea milkshake-like beverage bursting with sweet fruit flavors and textures.
Boba tea has expanded from its Taiwanese roots into a worldwide trend. The global boba tea market was valued at $2.02 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $3.25 billion by 2027. With growth like that, it’s no wonder Starbucks has boba tea on their radar.
Other Famous Drinks From Starbucks
While Starbucks may not offer boba just yet, their menu is certainly not lacking when it comes to delicious signature drinks. Some of their most popular beverages over the years include:
– Vanilla Latte – smooth, creamy espresso and steamed milk with vanilla syrup. A sweet, comforting classic.
– White Chocolate Mocha – rich mocha sauce and espresso topped with sweet white chocolate and fluffy whipped cream.
– Chai Latte – aromatic spiced black tea concentrate steamed with milk and honey. Warm and cozy.
– Java Chip Frappuccino – a coffee slushy blended with milk, mocha sauce, and chocolate chips. Cold, chocolatey, and refreshing.
While of course not the same as boba milk tea, these Starbucks staples have their own devoted fanbases. So even without boba on the menu, Starbucks still offers plenty in the way of tasty and trendy drinks.
Boba tea is a global phenomenon, but Starbucks has yet to fully jump on the bandwagon. Currently you cannot find straightforward boba milk tea with tapioca pearls on the Starbucks menu.
However, Starbucks has experimented with some boba-inspired beverages before. And with the massive popularity and projected growth of the boba market, Starbucks offering boba tea in their stores or even operating separate boba cafes could certainly happen in the future.
In the meantime, the Starbucks menu has lots of customizable iced tea, coffee, and refresher options that allow you to craft a drink with boba-like flavors and qualities. So while you may have to get creative to satisfy your boba craving, Starbucks still has plenty to offer in terms of delicious drinks…even without the actual boba pearls.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.