How to order boba tea

Written by a few bubble tea addicts, on Apr 26, 2022

How to order boba tea

TLDR: When ordering boba tea, your barista will ask you for 4 things: flavor, sweetness, size, and toppings. Before you go in line, think through your choice for each of these. For example, you could say 'Milk Tea, 50% sugar, large with tapioca'.

So you want to order boba tea.

There are so many boba tea flavors, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to toppings. We understand this can make it overwhelming to order boba. This is why we’re going to walk through step by step to answer the question, 'how do I order boba?'.

Let’s start with the basics.

When you go to order, your barista will ask you for 4 different things: flavor, sweetness, size, and toppings. This is a general formula to follow when ordering your bubble tea.

What types of boba tea are there?

There are 4 common types of boba tea (also called bubble tea): fruit tea, milk tea, slush, and smoothie boba.

1. Fruit Teas: Fruit teas are great when you’re craving something light and refreshing. They are the perfect summer beverage!

2. Milk teas: Combined with milk or cream, these bubble teas are much creamier and thicker than fruit teas. If you're lactose intolerant, don't be afraid to ask the barista if they have options for you. A lot of boba shops now use lactose-free ingredients.

Original Milk Tea

3. Slush: The slush base is exactly how it sounds. The ingredients include flavored syrup or fruit puree, ice, and water. When blended, they create a sweet, slushy texture.

4. Smoothies: These are like the slush, except they’re made with milk instead of water. This makes them super creamy!

Matcha Slush Coco
Matcha Slush - Source: 

What are the flavors of boba tea?

After you’ve decided what type of bubble tea drink you’re going to get, the next step is to decide on a flavor. If you decided to go for a milk tea, here are a few popular flavors to try:

  • Classic Milk Tea
  • Brown Sugar Milk Tea
  • Taro Milk Tea
  • Jasmine Milk Tea
  • Matcha Milk tea

These teas are all rich and creamy and offer a range of tastes and flavors.

But if you are feeling for a more fruity tea, here are some good options:

  • Passion fruit tea
  • Mango fruit tea
  • Lychee fruit tea
  • Peach fruit tea
  • Strawberry fruit tea

These fruit teas are perfect for a hot day when you’re looking for something refreshing!

If you want to go the slush or smoothie route, some popular options would be:

  • Honeydew slush
  • Lychee slush
  • Passion Fruit slush
  • Peach slush

If you are looking for an icy drink, smoothies can be a great choice. Be careful though! Smoothie boba can be very sweet compared to the other choices:

  • Matcha smoothie
  • Mango smoothie
  • Milk tea smoothie
  • Strawberry smoothie
  • Taro smoothie

If you're still having a hard time picking, a lot of shops will have a 'popular' or 'top' menu to pick from like the one below.

Bubble Tea Menu

How to choose boba sweetness level

Sweetness plays a big role in the flavor of your boba tea. After you’ve selected a flavor, you’ll need to consider how sweet you want to make your drink. Different people like different amounts of sweetness, which is why shops provide you with this option.

When choosing your sweetness level, there are two main ways you can order.

The first way is by saying a percentage of sugar. This usually means:

  • 0% (none)
  • 25% (little)
  • 50% (half)
  • 75% (less)
  • 100% (full)

This is a step that first-time boba drinkers sometimes forget. But it’s important because the ‘normal’ level of sugar at most boba shops is 100%, which most people find way too sweet.

Try not to overthink the percentages. 100% means full sugar, 75% means less sugar, 50% means half sugar, 25% means some sugar, and 0% means no sugar. Another way you can order the sugar level in your boba is by saying 'full sugar' or 'little sugar'.

Luckily you don't need to memorize any of the information you read. Most boba tea shops have signs that show you how to order sugar, along with a size chart for reference.

Boba Sweetness Levels
Boba Sweetness Levels - Source:

If it's your first time and you're not sure what amount of sweetness to get, ask for 50% sweet or 'half sugar'. From there you'll know if you want more or less sugar next time you visit.

If you get to the boba shop and still aren't sure, ask the barista 'what sweetness level goes well with the drink I've chosen'. They will happily help you out with your decision.

What bubble tea size should I choose?

Almost all boba tea shops have two size options: regular and large. Generally regular is a 16 ounce drink, and large is a 24 ounce drink.

The choice boils down to how much of the drink you want, and how healthy you'd like to be. Don't worry, both cup size options are common to pick. 

For your first time, try picking the regular cup size. If after you finish the drink you wish you had ordered more, try getting the large next time. If you're worried about the calories in your bubble tea, check out our article on the calories in bubble tea!

What are the bubble tea toppings?

Toppings at boba shops often confuse first-time boba tea drinkers. There's a lot of selection and many ingredients you've probably never heard of before. 

To start, try picking only one or two toppings. Keeping it simple will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by too many flavors.

We'll break down the best toppings below, and give you a few flavor topping suggestions on pairing suggestions.

What are the most popular bubble tea toppings?

The most popular boba tea toppings are Tapioca Pearls (also called Boba balls), Coconut Jelly, and Grass Jelly. Tapioca Pearls are chewy and have little flavor. Coconut Jelly is chewy and sweet. Grass Jelly is sweet and very viscous (this one takes some getting used to). You can't go wrong picking any of these three.

What toppings can I buy at a bubble tea shop?

While most bubble tea shops offer Tapioca, Coconut Jelly, and Grass Jelly, you will discover a lot more toppings depending on the boba shops you visit. Here’s a list of all of the toppings you can commonly find at boba tea shops:

  • Tapioca pearls:
  • Brown sugar pearls
  • Popping boba
  • Sago
  • Pudding
  • Aloe vera
  • Red beans
  • Fresh fruit
  • Grass jelly
  • Coconut jelly
  • Passionfruit jelly
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Salted cream
Bubble Tea Toppings
Toppings - Source: Trip Advisor

Some shops also make their own unique toppings. Don’t be afraid to try them out! Independent boba shop owners put a lot of thought into their menu, so you’re likely to discover hidden gems by trying out their special toppings.

Now you might be thinking, great, but which toppings go well with which teas?

Here’s a breakdown of each type of boba tea drink, along with its suggested toppings.

Which toppings go well with Milk Boba Tea?

Toppings for Classic Milk Tea: tapioca pearls, brown sugar pearls, grass jelly

Toppings for Brown Sugar Milk Tea: brown sugar pearls

Toppings for Taro Milk Tea: aloe vera, coconut jelly, pearls

Toppings for Jasmine Milk Tea - grass jelly, tapioca pearls, pudding, sago

Toppings for Matcha Milk Tea - aloe vera, coconut jelly, tapioca pearls

Which toppings go well with Fruit Boba Tea?

Toppings for Passion Fruit Tea: tapioca pearls, passion fruit jelly, aloe vera, coconut jelly, popping boba

Toppings for Mango Fruit Tea: tapioca pearls, aloe vera, popping boba, coconut jelly

Toppings for Lychee Fruit tea: tapioca pearls, aloe vera, coconut jelly, passionfruit jelly, popping boba

Toppings for Peach Fruit Tea: tapioca pearls, aloe vera, coconut jelly, popping boba, passionfruit jelly

Toppings for Strawberry Fruit Tea: tapioca pearls, aloe vera, popping boba, coconut jelly, passionfruit jelly

Which toppings go well with Slush Boba Tea?

Toppings for Honeydew Slush: aloe vera, coconut jelly, tapioca pearls

Toppings for Lychee Slush: aloe vera, coconut jelly, tapioca pearls

Toppings for Passion Fruit Slush: aloe vera, coconut jelly, passion fruit jelly, tapioca pearls

Toppings for Peach Slush: aloe vera, coconut jelly, tapioca pearls

Which toppings go well with Boba Smoothies?

Toppings for Matcha Smoothie: aloe vera, grass jelly, tapioca pearls, pudding

Toppings for Mango Smoothie: aloe vera, coconut jelly, tapioca pearls

Toppings for Milk Tea Smoothie: aloe vera, tapioca pearls, pudding

Toppings for Strawberry Smoothie: aloe vera, coconut jelly, pudding, tapioca pearls

Toppings for Taro Smoothie: aloe vera, coconut jelly, tapioca pearls

How to make bubble tea at home

If you're too busy or not quite ready to go to the boba shop to order a drink, try a DIY bubble tea kit. Pearly instant bubble tea kits make it easy to drink boba at home! They don’t require any prior cooking experience and take less than 3 minutes to prepare. Pro tip: bubble tea kits also make for an awesome gift for the boba tea drinkers in your life!