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Popping Boba vs Tapioca Pearls: Which Fits Your Bubble Tea Best?

Popping Boba vs Tapioca Pearls: Which Fits Your Bubble Tea Best?


the girl drinking the bubble milk tea

Tapioca pearls or popping boba? If you’ve caught the bubble tea bug like millions on the planet (and long to be a true blue boba connoisseur), knowing which ingredient is the better choice is a must. 

On one end are tapioca pearls, long recognised as central to the success of bubble tea. Those chewy, squishy balls bring pizzazz to the drink — the distinguishing mark that makes bubble tea bubble tea. 

But then, you can’t also discount the rise in popularity of popping boba, a unique set of balls that “pops” once bitten into carrying a taste that’s a sweet departure from the largely flavorless boba pearls.

If you’ve lost sleep trying to arrive at a decision, fret not. In this post, we’re going to show you how to figure out which is the better ingredient between tapioca pearls and popping boba for the kind of bubble tea you desire. So you can up your boba experience and hold your head up high in confidence. Read on. 



Determining One Over the Other

Tapioca pearls come from the starch of the cassava root, a plant common in Asia but native to Brazil. While tapioca is sourced on land, popping boba is a seaweed extract. In this aspect, they’re similar as both bubble tea ingredients are plant-based. 


But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Below is a table on the differences between both boba pearls and how you can determine one from the other using your senses. 


Table 1: Differences Between Tapioca Pearls and Popping Boba 

Table 1: Differences Between Tapioca Pearls and Popping Boba


Using your sense of taste can be the best way to determine if you’re dealing with a popping boba or tapioca pearls. Popping boba is more gelatinous and watery, bursting when you bite on them while tapioca allows you to chew more as these balls have more mass. 



Popping Boba’s Best Come-on


Popping boba is jazzier. There are a lot of fruit combinations you can do; plus that popping sensation can be a draw for younger audiences. 



The wide variety of fruit juice flavourings can be popping boba’s best asset. There are just simply many choices available that add more to the fun of your boba tea. Some of these flavours are: 


  • Strawberry
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Passion Fruit
  • Blueberry


And so on and so forth. So if you want to add more customisation options to your bubble tea, using popping boba is thinking straight. 


Plus, there’s that added excitement of the “pop” when your teeth puncture these popping balls.  Indeed, that can be a huge come-on for kids. 


Then, if you’re in a hurry, popping boba is ready to go. You can serve it right out of the pouch when you need it most. 



Tapioca Pearls Best Asset


Tapioca pearls acquire the taste. So, they can taste sweet if you put them in bubble tea with honey or sugar. Its lack of taste from the onset can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you want your bubble tea done. 


Usually, tapioca balls provide a pleasant roundness to your boba tea experience. But there’s more to the taste than meets your mouth. 

 bubble tea

If you want to gain weight, you might want to use tapioca pearls as it has more carbohydrates than popping boba. That’s not even the end of it as boba pearls provide more health benefits which include: 

  • More iron
  • More potassium
  • More calories


All those calories means tapioca pearls can provide you more energy when you need energy the most. So, if you’re serious about being able to do more work, grabbing a bubble tea filled with boba pearls at the bottom is being logical.



Popping Boba vs Tapioca Pearls: Which Fits Best? 

Truth be told, the choice depends largely on the consumer. There’s no such thing as superior as each person has distinct tastes. Of course, things take a turn when you’re in business. Now, you will have to determine which fits your market best. 


In this regard, you may have to do a little more due diligence. To provide you with a greater understanding of which ingredient choice is better, we’ve provided various aspects and how both popping boba and tapioca pearls respond. 


Which can be stored for longer?

Tapioca pearls in an unopened bag can last as long as 6 to 12 months. But once you open a bag, you need to cook those pearls within a few days or the product could get spoiled. 

Popping boba can last up to a year if refrigerated properly. 

Winner: Popping boba


Which has the most flavours?

Popping boba comes in a variety of flavours while tapioca pearls come largely without taste and only acquire the sweetness once mixed with sugar or honey. 

Winner: Popping boba


Which is best for cold or hot drinks?

This is tricky. As popping boba and tapioca pearls are made from different materials, they respond uniquely to changes in temperature. So, if you’re in business, you need to know how long your patrons take their bubble tea to be able to determine which is the better choice. 

Tapioca is heavier and has more volume so it adjusts to warm drinks with ease. They maintain their soft yet chewy appeal. The problem starts when you use them in frozen drinks as tapioca hardens and may become a challenge to chew on. 

A good piece of advice is to test things out with your cooking. Find a way so your tapioca pearls are chewable even when the temperature drops. 

On the other hand, popping boba show a lot more versatility. It adjusts well to both cold and warm temperatures. It doesn’t dissolve but becomes more watery when the mercury rises.

In short, it blends perfectly in cold and frozen drinks. It may provide a bit more resistance when punctured when cold but is not difficult to pop. You can even freeze them beforehand to give them that unique icy texture. 

Winner: Popping boba


Which is best for kids?

Popping boba would attract more kids than tapioca pearls. Generally, kids are attracted to variety so the customisation options in flavour that come with popping boba are simply too big a come-on for kids compared to tapioca pearls. 

Winner: Popping boba


Which is the healthier drink?

Tapioca pearls contain more iron, potassium, and carbohydrates compared to popping boba. These boba pearls have more calories giving you more energy. One aspect where popping boba rules is sugar. It has more sugar compared to raw tapioca. 

Winner: Tapioca pearls



Wrapping Things Up

The experience you get when you bite into them allows you to determine if you’re dealing with tapioca pearls or popping boba. The best boba option for you depends on the tastes of the person you’re making the boba drink for. 

If that is only you, then it would be easier to decide but if you’re in a business, you may have to do your due diligence to get the best results for your target market. Keep an eye on your audience and how they respond to each drink. And adjust accordingly.   

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And the best way to know which is the better ingredient for anybody is to let the human palate decide. Try both tapioca pearls and popping boba separately as an offering — and settle the debate once and for all. 

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