Boba tea has become an integral part of many Americans’ daily routines, almost to the point of obsession for some bubble tea enthusiasts. As a result, many bubble tea stores are opening across the country, and most of them are embraced by Asian American communities and by Millennials and Gen Z.
It didn’t take long for coffee giant Starbucks to jump aboard the boba tea train. You read that right: Starbucks boba tea is a thing.
In December 2021, Business Insider reported that Starbucks was creating its version of boba tea by adding tapioca pearls to some of their iced coffee drinks. The company announced a limited test run of two drinks featuring “coffee pearls” made with tapioca.
Boba tea, Starbucks — two words that don’t seem to make sense. But what we’re learning from the coffee giant’s venture into coffee popping pearls and tapioca balls is that there are no limitations when it comes to exploring the business opportunities with bubble tea.
Does Starbucks Have Boba?
As mentioned above, Starbucks is testing the bubble tea waters by making its own boba tea. The company released two test beverages: “In the Dark,” which is an iced drink based on Starbucks’ Cold Brew, and “Iced Chai Tea Latte with Coffee Pearls.”
Photos of the drinks showed tapioca pearls floating to the top of the cup (Iced Chai Tea Latte) and sinking to the bottom of the cup (In the Dark).
One of the unique selling points of Starbucks’ boba tea is the coffee popping pearls. Unlike the traditional chewy and dark boba dots seen in most Asian-style tea houses, Starbucks’ take on boba pearls is delicious pearls filled with actual coffee.
Reviews on the Starbucks Boba Tea and Coffee Popping Pearls
Starbucks coffee is well-loved by the world, but what do the people think about the coffee chain’s take on boba drinks?
The coffee popping pearls are often at the center of every Starbucks bubble tea review. According to a TikTok user who bought the drinks at a local Starbucks store in Palm Desert, the coffee popping pearls were “oddly salty-sweet” and “small and awkward to drink.”
Another TikTok user (@kirbyssister) gave the product an “OK” rating. Other people who have tried Starbucks boba tea say the new product is not worth the hype. However, there are boba tea enthusiasts who are big fans of the new addition to the Starbucks menu, insisting that the boba-style drink was a fresh change for the coffee shop.
The arrival of these boba tea offerings is reminiscent of when Dunkin’ Donuts released their strawberry Popping Bubbles. The store’s strawberry-flavored pearls were best enjoyed with their lemonade or Coconut Refreshers.
With big companies like Starbucks jumping aboard the boba tea train, it’s clear that selling boba drinks can be a fruitful business venture.
Why Including Bubble Tea in the Menu is a Good Idea
Boba tea has exploded in popularity over recent years. As mentioned above, thousands of bubble tea stores have opened across the United States.
Starbucks fans who love boba have waited for the store’s version of the popular Taiwanese drink. Initially, customers would order a secret menu item called Raspberry Milk Tea to satisfy their Starbucks and milk tea needs. The arrival of the new boba drinks satisfied the cravings for coffee drinks with tapioca pearls.
Starbucks isn’t the only store to add boba tea to its menu. Dunkin’ Donuts and burger chain Sonic have also sold bubble tea to appeal to the growing boba tea market.
What does this mean? It means that if the bigger names are carrying boba tea, small businesses such as yours can do the same.
So, why is boba tea a worthy addition to any restaurant or cafe? Consider the following.
- It is easy to prepare. The preparation of tapioca pearls is just as easy as the cooking of the pasta. All you need is boiling water. Also, the drink portion or the base of the drink is easy to mix. Once you’ve made your first boba tea, you’ll realize how easy it was.
- Your staff can make it too. Since most pearl tea drinks are easy to prepare, you can easily teach your staff the recipe. You can also prepare them ahead of time to prepare for high-volume situations. The staff can simply pour-and-blend or pour-and-shake your store’s most popular milk tea options.
- You can make more money by selling pearl tea. The average boba shop can serve up to 300 teas a day. If your store has a good location, you can sell at least 500 milk teas per day! When you decide to sell boba tea, you open your store to a new revenue source while giving your business access to newer customers.
What Business is Boba Perfect For?
Selling boba drinks is perfect for the following businesses:
- Boba drink shop
- Coffee shop
- Kiosk/Coffee Stands
- Espresso cart
- Juice bar
- Smoothie shop
What Is the Most Popular Boba Tea Flavor?
If you are planning on adding boba tea to your menu, make sure you sell the best flavors! Consider adding the following to your current drinks menu.
- Hong Kong. The black tea selection of boba is an all-time favorite. You can’t go wrong with this classic choice. The best part is you can easily make this drink with black tea and sweetened condensed milk.
- Taro. This popular drink is made with taro root powder mix made for boba drinks and smoothies. The flavor isn’t crazy but people can’t get enough of it. Some people say it has a nut-like taste, which is better than traditional vanilla lattes or milkshakes.
- Matcha. Nearly all coffee and boba shops have this flavor. This vibrant and earthy boba drink is made from matcha powder mixes, which are complemented with a splash of honey, almond milk or your preferred sweetener.
- Thai. This creamy, sweet and orange drink is known for its delicious depth of flavor and silky texture. It’s better than your traditional boba drink.
- Brown Sugar. This is probably the best among the best. If you haven’t tried brown sugar milk tea, you’re missing out on a lot!
How To Add Boba Tea to Your Menu
If you’re planning to take a page out of Starbucks’ book, you can. To add boba to your current menu, you’ll need the following:
- Recipes and training
- High-quality ingredients
Recipe and Training
If you have connections in the boba industry, ask for recipes. But you don’t have to go that far, especially if your schedule doesn’t allow it. Google has a number of boba recipes to try, with most of them including easy-to-find ingredients like toffee nut syrup and tapioca pearls.
Training is also a must, but as mentioned above, creating boba recipes is easier than you think. Just make sure that your staff will strictly follow your recipes.
High-quality ingredients are the most important part of any shop. To make sure you’re serving the best tea, order ingredients from trusted suppliers ONLY. Even if you’re just ordering tapioca pearls, your suppliers should be the most credible name in the market.
If you are new to boba drinks, work with suppliers that offer sample packs so you can try the drinks first before you put them on the menu.
Once you’ve got the ingredients and recipes locked and loaded, it’s time to invest in the right equipment.
With boba drinks, all you need are a shaker machine, fructose dispenser and sealing machine.
The Starbucks Move: Petition to Add Boba to Your Menu
Boba tea, Starbucks — these are two terms we never thought would mix. But the coffee company realized that people were falling in love with drinks that had tapioca pearls. So, instead of lagging behind the trend, Starbucks stores decided that they should do the same.
The good news is you can sell boba too. As long as you source the right ingredients, have the right equipment and train the right team, you can add boba to your menu too.