Why Is Bubble Tea So Expensive? – Is It Worth It?

Have you been wondering why is bubble tea so expensive? This article explores some of the factors that go into making bubble tea.

Why is bubble tea so expensive?
Bubble tea has endless varieties

We all enjoy a delicious beverage from time to time. And, if you are anything like me, you are willing to part with some hard-earned cash to let someone else make the drinks for us. It is easier, faster, and usually quite a bit tastier.

No matter what your preference is, you can likely find a local shop ready to serve you! And, as luck would have it, this is true for bubble tea lovers as well.

With endless bubble tea varieties to choose from, you would be happy to drink them regularly. And you wouldn’t be alone.

Bubble, or boba, tea is skyrocketing in popularity. Depending on the size of your city or town, you can likely find at least one shop where you can get your fix. 

The only thing is, it can feel a bit pricey. With each cup running $3-$5 on average, you may be wondering why your favorite new drink is so expensive. 

When you look at the beverage industry as a whole, it turns out bubble tea is pretty reasonable, especially for what you get. Compare the price of bubble tea to plain coffee, for example.

We’re not even talking about a latte … only plain coffee. A medium is running close to $3 these days! 

Read on to discover some of what goes into the cost of your beloved bubble tea. 

Why Is Bubble Tea So Expensive – Behind The Drink Scene

Why is bubble tea so popular?
The demand for bubble tea is high

Whenever we talk about the cost of a product, we must look at all the components. But, so often, we think of a drink (or a sandwich, or any packaged goods) as just that….the final product. There is a lot more to it, though.

Bubble tea requires special packaging. The most recognizable part of the packaging is the large straws. 

Demand is so high for bubble tea that stand-alone tea shops are popping up. However, such shops incur additional overhead costs – such as rent and utilities. Also, whether you find your bubble tea at a restaurant or a stand-alone shop, the cost of labor is a factor as well.

This brief synopsis does not cover all the costs a business may incur when selling bubble tea. It only illustrates that how a drink gets priced is not only based on the cost of ingredients.

Now, What About The Drink Itself?

a number of tea bags laid on top of a flat surface - how many times can you use a tea bag
Bubble tea’s base ingredients are cost-effective

The base ingredients themselves are relatively cost-effective. All bubble milk tea offerings will have three components: tea, milk, and sugar.

None of these are super expensive as stand-alone items. Especially as they get purchased in bulk and at wholesale prices.

When it comes to the tapioca pearls, that cost can vary. A few factors go into the pricing of these. 

Product ingredients and whether the pearls are imported or domestic are a few factors. As with the base ingredients, tapioca pearls get purchased in bulk and at wholesale cost.

One of the most attractive things about bubble tea is the endless variations. Some of the flavors you will find on menus are unusual.

Others are from hard-to-source ingredients. The cost of these will vary and will have an impact on the final drink price. If you liked this post, you be interested to learn whether expensive coffee tastes better.

Oh, The Intangibles

We also can’t overlook the sheer fact of supply and demand. Demand is so high for bubble tea that shops can charge a premium for their beverage. It is not unusual for businesses in any industry to do so.

Finally, let us remember that drinking bubble tea is a unique experience.  Sometimes, paying a higher price is worth the experience in and of itself.


  • 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.