Bubble Tea Guide: What to Order



A variety of bubble tea drinks that Gong Cha sells

Junhyoung (Edward) Kim, Staff Writer

An image created with Procreate (Junhyoung (Edward) Kim)

Bubble tea, also known as milk tea, nai cha, or simply boba, has recently taken the world by storm. With franchises such as Gong Cha, more people around the globe are able to access this delicious drink. Bubble tea looks unique at first glance: with a light brown liquid and chewy pearls sitting at the bottom, it is a drink that captivates many people’s attention. Many believe that this drink first originated in Taiwan, where a tea base is blended with a fruit juice or milk. But the drink’s most important attribute is its yummy tapioca pearls. Bubble tea is able to transform into various flavors and varieties, so there is an option out there for anyone and everyone. The options below are simply a couple of bubble tea recommendations, but they are just some of many options you can choose from. (Many of the menu items may be specific towards the Gong Cha menu.) Through this article, you may learn more about what your bubble tea preferences say about you.


The Classic – Milk Tea With Pearls

Black milk tea with pearls from Gong Cha (Junhyoung (Edward) Kim)

This is a go-to. For beginners, I always recommend the black milk tea with pearls. I would advise ordering this drink with a sugar level that is less than normal (regular sugar level is 70%) and light ice. With its rich taste, this iconic drink is enough for you to realize what the world of bubble tea is all about. Then, within your first couple of slurps, you will be able to feel the slimy but chewy tapioca pearls. Don’t worry and trust the process. Although I hated the pearls at the start, tapioca pearls are something that you really grow into. When you get used to it, you will soon understand the sweet joy that comes with the pearls. 

Once you become more used to the black milk tea, try a new type of tea such as oolong or earl grey. Personally, I think that the earl grey allows you to enjoy the strong taste of tea, while oolong provides a richer and deeper flavor of tea. I would say earl grey tea has a slightly unique aftertaste. 

The Level Two – Taro Milk Tea

This iconic purple-colored drink is taro-flavored. Taro is a type of root vegetable that is in the yam family. It has a strong, sweet taste and the thick texture of the drink might remind you of yam (in the best way possible). “Taro has kind of a sweet and nutty flavor. I’ve never had something like it before, but I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking to try a unique flavor!” said Daria Levy (’23). “Plus, the purple color makes it a lot of fun to drink.”

The “I Don’t Feel Like Milk Today” – Green Tea and Yogurt Series

For those of you who don’t feel like drinking a milk-based beverage, or may simply just want something refreshing on a hot summer day, I highly recommend anything on the green tea section. Ranging from passionfruit to lemon, the variety of flavors add an interesting touch to the refreshing green tea. I like to think of them as refreshers from Starbucks. With light ice and 30% sugar, there’s nothing more I crave on a hot day. 

Adding on, similar to green tea, the yogurt series is also extremely refreshing with a yogurt taste that comes with similar flavors to the green tea menu option. It is as if frozen yogurt and fruit have joined forces to create a magical drink. Once again, light ice and 30% sugar is highly recommended. 

The Passionfruit & Toppings Person – QQ Passionfruit Green Tea

This hidden item may be concealed or even absent from the menu. This underground item is a passionfruit green tea with pearls and coconut jelly as toppings. Do not be fooled by the name, as coconut jelly doesn’t taste anything like coconut. I am proud to say that despite my disliking for coconut, I still enjoy eating coconut jelly. It’s a sweet jelly that adds a nice chewy texture to your drink. I like adding coconut jelly to just about any drink. 

The Grapefruit Person – Grapefruit with Aiyu & White Pearls 

Grapefruit with aiyu & white pearls (Junhyoung (Edward) Kim)

The grapefruit with aiyu & white pearls first caught my attention just as I was looking for something new to drink. With a green tea base and a refreshing grapefruit flavor surrounding my tongue, I prefer this drink over any other Starbucks refresher. Aiyu jelly is also in this drink and in short, it is a jelly made from a fig plant that looks almost like a pudding and melts in your mouth. 

In addition to aiyu jelly, white pearls add a great texture to this drink. While regular tapioca pearls have a dark sugar flavor and a chewy texture, white pearls are more jelly-like, and because they are made with konjac plants, they have a slight citrus flavor.  


If you are completely new to the world of bubble tea, I suggest you first go with the simple “milk tea” because you are most likely to find them in stores. If you are feeling adventurous, I suggest you try the matcha milk tea. Finally, I’d like to mention that the bottom few suggested orders are limited to a bubble tea shop called GongCha, so if you do end up visiting, I would highly recommend you order them. As I am writing this on a warm spring day, I crave nothing more than a QQ Passionfruit Green Tea. Happy drinking!