A Comparison of Regular and Crystal Boba – Which is Better?

7 min read SEP 18, 2023

Bubble tea has become an increasingly popular beverage in the US, with over 3,392 shops offering unique takes on this delicious tapioca-based drink. One of the more recent creations is crystal boba, which consists of white translucent pearls instead of the traditional dark ones. So what's the difference between these two types of boba?

The health benefits of crystal boba are more plentiful than those of regular boba. It is made from tapioca starch, cane sugar, and agar-agar (seaweed). This combination contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than traditional boba. Moreover, crystal boba can absorb flavor and color from fruit juices, allowing for even more unique bubble tea experiences.

Bubble Tea History: What Is Crystal Boba?

Crystal Boba is a type of Bubble Tea that originated in Taiwan in 1988. It was invented by Lin Hsiu Hui, who initially poured tapioca pearls into her iced tea. During the 90s, it was brought to the US by Taiwanese immigrants and slowly gained popularity although initially wasn't widely found. It eventually became a hit on the West and East Coasts, where it was referred to as "boba tea" or "bubble tea," respectively. The word "bubble" refers to the bubbles that form on the drink after being shaken, while "boba" refers to the chewy tapioca pearls. Bubble tea is usually a combination of various milk-based or fruit-based teas with gelatinous, chewy pearls. This unique beverage has since become popular all over the world.

Crystal Boba Vs. Regular Boba


Crystal boba stands out from the rest due to its unique white, translucent color. This type of boba is made with agar powder and other gelling agents that give it a soft, gelatin-like texture. It is also bean-shaped since it is boiled in such a way during cooking. Regular boba, also known as tapioca pearls, is black because of the brown sugar in its preparation. It is made from cassava root, a South American plant that arrived in Taiwan.

These original tapioca pearls have a chewy and thick texture, while the ones used for bubble tea are smaller and slightly softer. Both crystal boba and regular boba are excellent choices for bubble tea drinks, adding a unique texture and flavor to each sip. Each type has its special characteristics that contribute to the overall taste of the drink.


Crystal boba has a unique and delicate taste that is slightly sweet with a hint of citrus due to the Konjac plant. This type of boba can also maintain its flavor when added to bubble tea or for extended periods, making it an ideal ingredient in many popular drinks. Additionally, crystal boba provides an interesting texture and visual appeal to recipes due to its colorful gelatinous consistency.

Regular boba tastes neutral, with a hint of sweetness from brown sugar or caramel syrup. The pearls become firm and blend with the other ingredients in bubble tea, losing their flavor.

Health Benefits

Crystal boba is considered to be the healthier option when it comes to bubble tea. Just one hundred grams of crystal boba contains 70 calories, largely from carbohydrates and no fat whatsoever. In comparison, regular boba has 358 calories and a whopping 83 grams of carbohydrates per serving - yet still offers no amount of fat. Additionally, tapioca starch used in boba can often be difficult for the body to digest. Therefore, if you're looking for a healthy, delicious alternative, crystal boba may be just what you need!


You can find regular black boba at most stores, but crystal boba is not as common. However, its popularity is increasing.

How To Make Homemade Crystal Boba

You can find Crystal Boba in both physical and online stores. You might want to give a try to Bossen Original Crystal Boba and use it while making your favorite milk tea.


· Squeeze Bottle
· Ice
· Water
· Vegetable Oil
· Sugar
· Jelly Powder
· Agar Powder

Step 1: Heat The Coconut Water

Heat the coconut water in a pot over low heat.

Step 2: Prepare The Powdered Ingredients

In a bowl, combine the jelly powder and agar. Then, dissolve the powder mixture in water and allow it to sit for ten minutes.

Lower the heat and let it simmer for five minutes. After that, turn it off and continue stirring for another five minutes.

Step 3: Combine The Remaining Ingredients

Mix water, ice, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Then, transfer the cooked mixture to a squeeze bottle and add it to the bowl by squeezing it drop by drop.
Wait for the pearls to set when they sink.

Step 4: Wash The Boba

To enjoy your bubble tea, strain and wash the crystal boba before adding it to your drink.

How To Make Tapioca Boba At Home

Tapioca should be cooked for 30 minutes, but pre-made tapioca pearls are also available for purchase.


  • Water
  • Brown Sugar
  • Tapioca Starch

Method 0ne: Tapioca Dough

Step one: Boil The Sugar

To make the mixture, boil brown sugar and water in a pot. Once it starts bubbling, turn off the heat and add half a cup of tapioca starch. Be sure to mix everything thoroughly.

Step two: Add The Remaining Ingredients

While the mixture is still hot, add the remaining starch and mix thoroughly. Allow it to rest for a few minutes.

Step three: Prepare The Dough

Begin kneading the dough on a clean and flat surface. Add flour as necessary. Then, cut the dough into equal 1.5cm squares using a knife.

Roll the squares into small balls using your hands and sprinkle additional tapioca starch to prevent the pearls from sticking together.

Method 2: Boba Pearl

Step 1: Cook The Tapioca Pearls

To cook tapioca pearls, boil them in water on medium heat for around 6 to 8 minutes. After that, switch to low heat and continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes until the pearls float to the surface.

Step 2: Prepare the Other Ingredients

To make syrup, boil water and brown sugar in a pot for five minutes. Let the regular boba soak in an ice bath for one minute. Next, add the boba to the syrup and cook on low heat for six to eight minutes or until the syrup thickens.

Step 3: Serve

After stirring, add it to your hot drink right away. If you're putting it in a cold drink, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make crystal boba at home?

You'll need a squeezable bottle, ice, water, vegetable oil, sugar, jelly powder, and agar powder to make homemade crystal boba. Heat coconut water in a pot over low heat; then prepare the powdered ingredients by combining the jelly powder and agar before dissolving it in water. Mix water, ice, and vegetable oil; transfer the cooked mixture to a squeezable bottle and add drops by drop to the bowl. Wait for the pearls to sink, then strain and wash them before adding them to your drink.

Which type of boba is healthier?

Crystal boba is generally healthier than regular boba due to its lower fat and calorie content. It is also made with agar powder and other gelling agents, so it contains fewer carbohydrates than regular boba. Additionally, tapioca starch used in traditional boba can often be difficult for the body to digest. In contrast, crystal boba has a greater capacity to absorb flavor and color from fruit juices, allowing for even more unique bubble tea experiences.

Is crystal boba popular?

Crystal boba is becoming increasingly popular in the bubble tea industry due to its unique flavor and health benefits. You can find regular black boba at most stores, but Crystal Boba may be more difficult to locate since it is still a relatively new bubble tea ingredient. However, its popularity is increasing, and many stores offer it online.

Which type of boba tastes better?

The taste of each type of boba largely depends on the recipe and ingredients used to make it. Regular and crystal boba have unique flavors and textures that can contribute to a delicious bubble tea drink, so choosing one over the other ultimately comes down to personal preference.

What is the difference between regular boba and jelly?

Regular boba is made from tapioca starch, while jelly is typically a combination of water and gelatin. Both ingredients are popular additions to bubble tea drinks but have different textures and flavors. Regular boba has a chewy texture and neutral taste with a hint of sweetness, while jelly has a softer consistency and can be flavored with various fruit juices or syrups.

How long should I cook regular boba?

Regular boba should be cooked for 30 minutes. You can purchase pre-made tapioca pearls or make your own by boiling water and brown sugar in a pot for five minutes before adding the boba and cooking on low heat for six to eight minutes until the syrup thickens. For best results, stir frequently and add it to your drink immediately.

Is bubble tea vegan-friendly?

Most bubble tea drinks can be vegan-friendly if prepared without dairy or honey. Regular and crystal boba are both suitable for vegans. Still, it is important to check that other ingredients, such as syrups and powders used in the recipe, do not contain animal products.

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