Popping Boba vs Tapioca Boba - What's the Difference?

First, What are they?

Tapioca Boba (aka pearls/bubbles) is a traditional drink addition that is chewy and can be sweetened with sugar and honey. As it is made from tapioca, it has very little flavor when eaten by itself without sweetener. The sweetness and chewy texture may also vary depending on each store and how they cook it. (Learn how to cook Boba here) Boba is often added to Milk Tea, Smoothies, Shaved Snow and Frozen Drinks. 

Popping Boba (aka bursting boba/popping juice balls) is made from a seaweed extract with fruit juice flavoring inside that "pop"s once bitten into. It has gained large popularity with the rise of frozen yogurt and is pleasantly, not overly, sweet. Due to its wide variety of flavors such as Lychee, Strawberry, Mango and Kiwi, there is much more room for customization and flavor pairings. Unlike tapioca boba, there is no cooking involved.

So when do you use one over the other? Well, the preparation times and storage is a factor in any decision making process for businesses. Preparing and cooking Tapioca Boba requires attention and accuracy for a good texture, while Popping Boba does not need cooking but will require refrigeration storage and a variety of flavors. Tapioca Boba can be stored dried but doesn't keep well overnight, while Popping Boba, if refrigerated properly, can last for up to a year.

Of course, it also depends on what your customer wants, but the invention of Popping Boba it has changed the possibilities game and as a business, you can create unique combinations of your own! Here are some points to keep in mind when creating your recipes:


As you may know, Tapioca & Popping Boba have two very different textures. One is chewy and soft while the other quickly pops and mixes with other flavors. When adding it to your drink or dessert, keep in mind the experience that you want your customer to have. The chewy boba may have remnants of honey that will come out at the end of each sip while you are chewing. Quickly bursting boba will add a fun layer of flavor to flavored drink, and is more exciting especially for kids. Keep track of your audience, and what they will respond to the most.

If they are unfamiliar with the concept of Boba, try out a few different combinations and get feedback from customers.

Temperature: Hot, Iced, or Frozen

The temperature of your drink will change the flavor and texture of Tapioca Boba and Popping Boba over time, depending on how long it takes your customer to finish their drink or dessert. Tapioca Boba is made from tapioca starch and responds well to warm temperatures. This will keep the Boba soft and chewy. Boba still tastes great in iced milk teas, but smoothies and frozen drinks may be a harder sell as the tapioca can become hard and difficult to chew on. If your customers like Boba in smoothies, test out different cooking times and methods to make sure the Boba will last long enough through the cold.

Tip: Hot Tapioca Boba tastes great on top of Shaved Snow!

Popping Boba is a bit more versatile. It is not afraid of hot beverages as it won't dissolve under pretty warm circumstances. Keep in mind though as it acts like gelatin and the texture may become more liquid-y over time. It works very pleasantly in iced and frozen drinks, giving slightly more resistance and texture without becoming difficult to pop. Try freezing them ahead of time for a pleasantly icy texture!


Tapioca Boba, when sweetened with honey or sugar, gives a pleasant roundness to tea flavored drinks. Because of its more neutral flavors, Tapioca Boba can virtually pair with anything. This works great for those who like to enjoy more singular or focused flavors, and eat the boba for the texture and chewy fun.

For Popping Boba, it comes in a large variety of flavors from exciting Green Apple to more traditional Lychee. While there are many choices, it does not offer a neutral flavor. More flavors mean more choices, but keep in mind how many tubs of Popping Boba you can store and which flavors may be more versatile than others.

We hope this article is useful to you and your business. Please leave a comment if you have questions or tips of your own! If you are interested in purchasing boba supply for your business or for wholesale, we have many items available in our store.



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