Does Starbucks have boba? (No, But You Can Do This)

Boba tea, also known as bubble tea, is a popular drink that has been the subject of various social media challenges. The beverage has its origins in the island nation of Taiwan and consists of tea served with chewy tapioca balls.

This combination is what gives the tea its name, as the tapioca balls are said to look like bubbles. Boba is a very popular drink and Starbucks is often being inquired if they have it.

Starbucks does not offer Boba tea on its menu. This is due to the complex nature of making the drink, a method that would be too expensive to roll out in every Starbucks chain location. You can make your own Boba tea using Starbucks iced tea if you know where to get tapioca pearls.

Many grocery stores carry tapioca pearls, and even if your grocery store does not then there are other ways to purchase them as well, such as ordering via Amazon.

There are several regional and national tea shop chains that do carry Boba tea, though there are also locally owned locations that might surprise you with their quality.

How to Make Boba Tea with Starbucks Drink

There are several ways to make your own Boba, as the ingredients are somewhat commonplace, allowing for you to acquire them easily.

This can be made even easier if you rely on Starbucks for the main bulk of the beverage, even if they do not serve the tapioca balls that give the drink its name.

Here are some steps to follow if you want to have some Boba tea, and Starbucks is your only option for tea:

  1. Download the Starbucks app. This will allow you to order more easily what you need in the next steps. You will also avoid the awkwardness of dealing directly with a barista who may find themselves unimpressed with your Boba tea antics.
  2. Once in the App you are going to want to scroll to the iced tea section of the Starbucks menu.
  3. Select ‘Iced Black Tea’ from the iced tea section of the Starbucks menu. The size of the beverage is up to you.
  4. Customize your beverage by heading to the ‘Add-ons’ section of the beverage customization page.. This will help make the beverage more suitable to being made into a faux Boba.
  5. When given the option for how much water to include, select ‘none’.
  6. The choice of milk is up to you, though Half & Half is a popular choice when performing this hack.
  7. Now head to the ‘Flavors’ section of the beverage customization page and remove the liquid cane sugar that normally comes with this beverage.
  8. In place of the liquid cane sugar, add Toffee Nut Syrup.
  9. The beverage is now ready to order, but before you go and get it you will need to prepare the tapioca pearls for consumption.
  10. Boil the tapioca pearls for as long as the instructions for your brand of pearls says.
  11. Now they are ready to be plopped into your drink to make your own Boba tea! Simply head to Starbucks, pick up your drink, drop in the prepared pearls and you have finished the process!

Where to Buy Tapioca Pearls

While Starbucks might be dragging its feet when it comes to getting Boba tea on the menu, there are ways that you can supplement other beverages with tapioca pearls of your own to capture some of the essence of the beverage.

Most large grocery stores such as Safeway, Giant, or even Walmart are known to carry tapioca pearls.

 If your local grocery store is out of stock, you can also turn to shipping giant Amazon and order some to be delivered to your home.

As Boba tea becomes more popular, more and more grocery stores will likely begin to carry the necessary ingredients to satisfy their customers.

Why Doesn’t Starbucks offer Boba

Given the popularity of Boba tea, for both its taste and presence in social media stunts, it seems odd that Starbucks does not carry it.

Surely it would be a major boon to their revenue, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Making Boba tea professionally requires machinery and training that might not be viewed as cost effective.

This dedicated machinery would also take up space that could be used to help prepare a wider range of beverages.

Storing the tapioca pearls would also be somewhat inconvenient, as they are used only for Boba tea, unless Starbucks begins to innovate with them and develops a Frankenstein monster of a beverage.

This storage space would be better used to store ingredients that are more widely used.

Another reason is that Boba tea may simply be viewed as beyond the scope of the Starbucks brand.

While the company has strayed away from serving only coffee, it is still widely recognized as the best source for coffee.

Adding such an iconic beverage that is not coffee may detract from the Starbucks brand identity, something that company higher-ups would like to avoid.

Alternative Places to Buy Boba Tea

While Starbucks may have declined to hop on the Boba tea bandwagon, there are a myriad of other businesses that have either added the drink to their menu or are based around the beverage.

One of these places is Kokee Tea, though this is only a regional chain that is locked to the East Coast of the United States.

Still, it is an example of a tea chain that carries the ingredients necessary for Boba tea in spades. There are other examples, such as Kung Fu Tea.

This chain has spread nationwide so there is no need to book a flight to get your Boba tea fix.

You can also investigate locally owned tea shops. These locations might even surprise you and possess Boba tea with qualities superior to that sold by chain tea shops.

Family-owned tea shops are a wise option both for the potential for higher quality, as well as the benefits garnered from supporting a local business.