Bubble Tea Vs. Thai Tea: The Basics

The tea world is constantly evolving. Do you find yourself confused with the different options available? Keep reading as we look at bubble tea vs. Thai tea.

Bubble tea vs. Thai tea
Bubble tea vs. Thai tea

Coffee shops serving fancy drinks are no longer the only game in town. These days, when you’re looking for a delicious drink or want to sit and chat with friends or colleagues, you have many options.

Tea shops are popping up all over the United States, offering tasty alternatives with lower (or no) caffeine. You’ve likely heard of bubbles, or boba, tea, and Thai tea.

But you may be wondering what they are. Or if they are even different. Should you give one a try? Or both?

Read on to learn more about these unique drinks.

What Are Bubble Tea And Thai Tea?

Bubble tea is also known as boba tea, depending on who you speak to and the location you live. Originally from Taiwan, bubble tea traces back to as early as the 1980s.

The origin story of bubble tea is up for debate. But, no matter how it came onto the scene, one thing is certain … people love these unique drinks.

Bubble tea begins as a mixture of sweetened, brewed tea and some form of milk. Next, tapioca pearls get added, then the whole mixture is shaken up. The bubbles appearing at the top after the drink gets shaken up are actually where the name originates.

Thai tea originated in Thailand and is often a staple at breakfast. You will find this tasty treat commonly served in Thai restaurants. Thai tea also begins as a mixture of sweetened, brewed tea.

The tea typically gets steeped in spices. Then creamy milk is added before serving.

Both bubble tea and Thai tea have become increasingly popular beverages in the United States. It is common in tea shops, and you also can find Thai tea at restaurants.

What Do They Have In Common?

a number of tea bags laid on top of a flat surface - how many times can you use a tea bag
Bubble tea and Thai tea are tea-based drinks

As you may have guessed from the name – both are tea-based drinks. Additionally, they both traditionally have a milk component.

Bubble tea and Thai tea are both best flavored and offer some leeway in those favor additions depending on your individual preference.

That is where the commonalities end. The fun part lies in their differences.

Bubble Tea Vs. Thai Tea: The Differences

Even though both allow some flexibility based on personal preferences, each drink has unique flavor profiles. 

Bubble tea can be savory or sweet, depending on what your preference is. Fruity bases or flavorings are extremely popular. Those extra flavors show up as syrups, toppings, and flavored tapioca pearls!

In contrast, Thai tea is spiced, which gets added during the steeping process. These spices can be cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, or crushed tamarind, giving the tea a beautiful balance of spicy and sweet. Of course, if spices are not your thing, you can customize your Thai tea at home!

Another key difference is the tea used in each drink. Thai tea traditionally uses Ceylon tea, though any other black tea works as well. The original bubble tea was black tea as well.

But these days – any tea is game. You will find bubble tea made from green, white, and oolong alongside the traditional black tea.

What Makes Bubble Tea Better?

boba tea vs bubble tea
Bubble tea has many different flavors you can choose from

The two best things about bubble tea are its endless options for customization and the chewy surprise at the bottom of your cup! In addition, it is fun to say and fun to drink.

What Makes Thai Tea Better?

Thai tea is enjoyable any time of the day. But it makes a fantastic replacement for your morning coffee. The spice adds an extra “pick me up” to the lower caffeine level in black tea.

Bonus tip! Thai tea can become the base of bubble tea. All you do is add tapioca pearls and shake!

Who Should Drink Bubble Tea (And Why)

If you prefer variety, endless flavor options, and a chewy surprise in your drink, bubble tea is for you. 

With the endless options and variations, you can never tire of bubble tea. 

Who Should Drink Thai Tea (And Why)

If you are a fan of more traditional tea drinks, Thai tea is going to be right up your alley. With delicious spices and creamy milk, you get a decadent drink no matter the time of day. 

Go this route if you are looking for a relatively consistent flavor in your tea. 


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.