Skip to Content

Milk Tea vs Bubble Tea: What’s the Difference?

Summary of key points

The main difference between milk tea and bubble tea lies in the addition of tapioca pearls, also known as boba. Milk tea is a popular drink made with black or green tea mixed with milk and often sweetened with sugar or condensed milk. Bubble tea, on the other hand, adds tapioca pearls to the mix. These chewy and slightly sweet pearls are typically found at the bottom of the drink and are sucked up through a wide straw. While milk tea can be enjoyed on its own, bubble tea offers an added texture and flavor element with the tapioca pearls. Both drinks are refreshing and delicious options for bubble tea lovers, but if you’re in the mood for something more than just a typical tea, go for bubble tea.

Milk tea and bubble tea might sound like distant cousins at a family reunion. We’re here to clarify. Milk tea is the classy, older sibling; brewed tea with a splash of milk. Easy. Now, bubble tea enters the scene with pizzazz—think milk tea that decided to throw a party, inviting chewy tapioca pearls.

Our first encounter? A mix-up order. Expecting the usual, we were surprised with a cup full of bubbles. An accidental discovery for us; a game-changer in our tea-drinking habits.

Every sip brings us an experience. Milk tea soothes. Bubble tea excites. It’s a choice between calm and a burst of joy.

What is Milk Tea?

Milk tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba milk tea, is a delightful and yummy drink that began in Taiwan.

It’s made by mixing black or green tea with milk and adding tapioca pearls or other toppings for extra texture and flavor.

The result is a creamy and scrumptious beverage that has become popular all over the world.

The tea is one of the key ingredients in milk tea.

Black tea is typically used for its intense flavor, while green tea gives a lighter and more subtle taste.

The tea leaves are steeped in hot water to get their flavors.

This makes a deep base for the drink.

To make milk tea creamy, dairy or non-dairy milk is added.

This could be regular milk, condensed milk, soy milk, almond milk, or other alternatives depending on taste and dietary needs.

Milk not only gives the drink its creamy texture, but also helps balance out the bitterness of the tea.

What sets milk tea apart is its toppings.

Tapioca pearls, also known as boba, are usually added to make a unique sensory experience.

These chewy balls add fun and playfulness to the drink as they are sucked up through a wide straw together with the velvety liquid.

Other potential toppings include fruit jellies, pudding, grass jelly, or even ice cream – each giving its own special taste and texture.

With numerous variations and flavor combinations obtainable, it’s understandable why milk tea is such a beloved beverage worldwide.

Whether you like it hot or cold, plain or with various mix-ins, there is always an option to fit your taste preferences.

So next time you are looking for a refreshing treat that combines the best of both worlds – tea and dessert – give milk tea a go.

What is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea – also called pearl milk tea or boba tea – is a Taiwanese drink that first appeared in the 1980s.

It’s made of tea, milk or non-dairy alternatives and tapioca pearls, aka boba.

These sweet, chewy pearls give bubble tea its unique texture.

Flavors vary from taro to matcha, honeydew to wintermelon.

You can serve bubble tea hot or cold – with ice for a refreshing summertime sip.

Toppings like jelly cubes or fruit pieces add flavor and texture.

Bubble tea is now popular around the world.

There are plenty of cafes and shops selling this unique drink.

So, if you’re looking for something different to sip on, try bubble tea and experience its array of flavors.

Differences Between Milk Tea and Bubble Tea

Milk tea and bubble tea may sound alike, but they are different.

Both have roots in Asian culture.

Ingredients and Base

Milk Tea and Bubble Tea may seem alike, but the difference lies in their base and ingredients.

Milk Tea usually has a black or green tea base, plus milk or creamer.

Bubble Tea, or boba tea, has a wide variety of teas, like black, oolong, or even fruit-infused teas.

They are then blended with milk or fruit flavors for extra taste.

The special thing about Bubble Tea is the addition of tapioca pearls or fruit jelly, giving a unique texture.

The preparation for Milk Tea and Bubble Tea is different, too.

For Milk Tea, loose-leaf tea or teabags are steeped in hot water.

This is then blended with milk or creamer and usually sweetened with sugar or condensed milk.

Bubble Tea is brewed separately and then cooled before adding milk or fruit flavors.

This ensures the tea and other ingredients stand out.

Milk Tea and Bubble Tea also have different flavors.

Milk Tea can be classic Hong Kong-style Milk Tea or fruity versions like strawberry or matcha green tea.

Bubble Tea has many flavors, thanks to the different types of teas and additional ingredients, like popping boba, fruit jellies, or even cheese foam toppings.

Inclusion of Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls, also known as boba, are a delightful treat to add to any milk tea or bubble tea.

These small, chewy balls bring unique flavor and texture that set them apart.

At the bottom of the drink, they offer a surprise with every sip.

These pearls take these teas to a whole new level.

As you savor the beverage, the soft yet firm texture provides a delightful sensation.

It makes the experience even more exciting and enjoyable.

Tapioca pearls are incredibly versatile too.

From classic black, to fruity strawberry or mango, to specialty flavors like matcha or taro – there’s something for everyone’s taste buds.

You can even customize your milk tea or bubble tea according to your preferences.

Plus, tapioca pearls are not only a delight for the senses, but they also have some health benefits.

Made from cassava root starch, they are gluten-free and suitable for those with dietary restrictions.

Enjoy in moderation as part of a balanced diet for guilt-free indulgence.

Texture and Appearance

Milk tea & bubble tea look the same, but have different textures.

Milk tea has a smooth, velvety feel.

Bubble tea’s unique charm comes from its chewy tapioca pearls.

These textures differentiate the drinks.

Milk tea is creamy & luxurious.

The silky texture appeals to the senses.

This makes it a favorite for tea-lovers.

Bubble tea has boba pearls – tiny black spheres made of tapioca starch – which add a fun chewiness when you drink it.

Although both teas have a milky base & colorful toppings, it’s the texture that sets them apart.

Milk tea is elegant while bubble tea is playful.

Pick whichever appeals to you: indulgence or whimsy.

These blends will make you want more.

Flavor Variations

Milk tea and bubble tea offer a variety of flavors to suit different palates.

From classics like black milk tea and taro bubble tea to innovative ones like matcha and fruit-infused varieties, there’s something for everyone.

Toppings like tapioca pearls, fruit jelly, or boba bubbles add to the taste and texture.

There are endless flavor possibilities.

Besides the traditional flavors found in tea shops, you can also find region-specific variations that reflect local ingredients.

In Taiwan, where bubble tea started, you might come across brown sugar milk tea or winter melon milk tea.

Other parts of Asia or even international locations have their own twist on these beverages, like Thai milk tea or honeydew bubble tea.

Milk tea and bubble tea offer a unique way to explore tastes and textures.

Whether you love traditional flavors or something more unique, these drinks offer a refreshing way to enjoy your favorite teas with a dose of creativity.

So, next time you enjoy a cup, explore the endless flavor variations available and let your taste buds go wild.

Similarities Between Milk Tea and Bubble Tea

Milk tea and bubble tea share some similarities that make them enjoyable.

Both have tea as the base, often with different flavors like fruit or milk.

They can be served hot or cold.

Yet, they differ in fascinating ways.

Bubble tea has an extra addition: chewy tapioca pearls (bubbles or boba).

These small, translucent balls impart flavor and texture.

It’s a delightful surprise for newcomers.

Milk tea focuses on creamy flavor.

It is usually made with milk or creamer, creating a smooth taste.

Sweeteners like honey or condensed milk are added for extra sweetness.

Milk tea is comforting and indulgent.

It distinguishes itself from bubble tea.

Popular Varieties of Milk Tea and Bubble Tea

Milk tea and bubble tea are both popular. However, they differ in character.

Milk tea consists of tea leaves simmered in hot water, with milk and sugar added.

This creates a creamy, comforting flavor. Bubble tea is a modern take on milk tea.

It usually includes a flavored tea blend mixed with fruit syrups or juices.

It is also often topped with tapioca pearls, fruit jelly, or boba.

This adds a textural element, making it more enjoyable to drink.

How to Customize Milk Tea and Bubble Tea?

When it comes to milk tea and bubble tea, the possibilities are endless.

Choose your base – black tea or green tea.

Then select your sweetness level and type of milk or creamer.

The fun really starts when you add toppings and flavors.

For a unique twist, try different boba pearls like tapioca, fruit jelly, or popping boba.

You can also customize the sweetness with 0%, 25%, 50%, or 100%.

To add even more variety, experiment with flavors like taro, matcha, caramel, or chocolate.

Add as syrups or powders for a distinct taste. Don’t forget the toppings.

From classic grass jelly or red bean paste to unusual choices like cheese foam or Oreo crumbs.

Get creative and create your perfect cup of customized goodness.


After covering the various aspects of milk and bubble tea, it is clear that these teas are distinctively different.

Both offer an array of health benefits, unique flavor profiles and can satisfy cravings from sweet to salty.

Bubble tea offers more unique surprises by using tapioca pearls as add-ins for texture in contrast to milk tea using condensed milk or creamer for a more subtle taste that pairs well with tea flavors.

In the end, both milk and bubble tea are special treats that have their own place in the food industry.

With more understanding of the ingredients of either type of beverage, consumers will be able to make informed decisions based on what they are looking for, whether it is extra sweetness or a fun surprise found submerged within the bubbles of a cup of bubble tea.

This battle between milk and bubble tea is certainly something you don’t want to miss.

Milk Tea vs Bubble Tea: What’s the Difference?

Discover the nuances between Milk Tea and Bubble Tea with our concise guide. Uncover the key distinctions in these popular beverages to make an informed choice for your next sip.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Milk Tea
  • Bubble Tea


  • Choose between Milk Tea and Bubble Tea based on your taste preferences and cravings.
  • Follow the preparation instructions for your selected tea, ensuring you use the right tea leaves or tea bags and steeping times.
  • Customize your tea by adding milk, sweeteners, and any desired flavorings.
  • If making Bubble Tea, prepare and add tapioca pearls or other toppings as per your preference.
  • Stir well to combine all ingredients and enjoy your chosen tea.
  • Explore variations and recipes to discover new and delightful flavors in the world of tea beverages.
Keyword Milk Tea vs Bubble Tea
Did you make this recipe?Mention @AmericasRestaurant or tag #americasrestaurant!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating