Bubble tea versus Milk Tea, how do they differ and how are they similar? Well, if you are a tea lover, you must have pondered over this question.

Bubble tea and milk tea, both have their own fair share of audience. While in some respects they are similar, in others, they are poles apart. So, how about we compare them for 23 different traits?

bubble tea vs milk tea

Bubble Tea Versus Milk Tea: Comparing them for 23 Attributes

I run a tea cafe in an upcoming north Kolkata locality where bubble tea is slowly gaining popularity. Talking about milk tea is another story as the drink has been in demand since times immemorial.

Therefore, it is interesting to delve into the comparison between these two wildly popular drinks. Here is a quick link at these attributes before we go into the details.

Bubble Tea


Milk Tea


Bubble Tea

350-400 ml

Milk Tea

150-400 ml

Bubble Tea

Thick and/or Chewy

Milk Tea

Smooth & Light

Bubble Tea

Iced Tea

Flavoured Tea

Milk Tea

Thai Tea

Masala Tea

Bubble Tea

Waffles, toasts, etc

Milk Tea

Cookies, cakes, etc

Bubble Tea

Tapioca pearls, Milk (optional)  & sweeteners

Milk Tea

Milk, tea leaves and sweeteners

Bubble Tea


Milk Tea


Bubble Tea




Milk Tea




Bubble Tea

Very High

Milk Tea


Bubble Tea

Higher But Customizable

Milk Tea

Lower But Customizable

Bubble Tea

30th  April

Milk Tea

21st May

Bubble Tea

300 calories approx.

Milk Tea

92 calories approx

Bubble Tea


Milk Tea


Bubble Tea



Cotton Candy

Milk Tea

Blue Milk

Red Velvet


Bubble Tea

Not Likely

Milk Tea


Bubble Tea

Hot & Cold

Milk Tea

Hot & Cold

Bubble Tea




Milk Tea

Mint Leaves


Chia  Seeds

Bubble Tea

5-6 minutes

Milk Tea

1-4 minutes

Bubble Tea

100 mg – 160 mg

Milk Tea

33-50 mg

Bubble Tea

Boba Pearls

Ideal Summer Drink

Milk Tea

Energy booster

Can be drunk anytime

Bubble Tea


Milk Tea


Bubble Tea


Milk Tea


Bubble Tea

Milk Tea Pearls Chai

Boba Tea Cha

Boba  Tae

Milk Tea




Let us now compare bubble tea and milk tea in detail, taking each point one at a time.

Bubble Tea and Milk Tea Originated in Different Countries

The origin of any food or beverage says a lot about it. So, let us consider the origin of our favorite drinks.

Bubble tea is said to have its origin in Taiwan in the early 1800s.It is believed that a store owner in Taiwan invented the drink by adding tapioca balls, ice, and milk tea together. This became an instant hit and the rest they say is history.

Milk Tea on the other hand owes its roots in China, although many believe that it was the Brits who started adding milk to tea. From China, milk tea traveled to different parts of the world.

The Serving Size for Both These Drinks Differs

Another thing that differentiated Bubble Tea and Milk tea is the average serving size.

Traditionally bubble tea is served in go-to plastic cups that on average holds 350-400 ml of bubble tea. This is then sealed by a plastic cover and enjoyed by piercing the top with a straw.

Milk tea is served in different sizes. The average serving size can vary anywhere between 150-400 ml of your favourite drink. It can then be enjoyed by directly sipping it from a cup if it’s hot and with a straw when served cold.

Consistency and Texture Are the Defining Factors That Differentiate Bubble Tea From Milk Tea 

The most important factors that differentiate milk tea from Bubble tea are consistency and texture.

One of the things that make bubble tea special is the texture. Imagine sipping through a thick flavourful drink and suddenly being hit by chewy delicious tapioca balls. That’s your average bubble tea!

Milk tea on the other hand has no such surprises. It has a much lighter texture and smooth consistency.

Bubble Tea & Milk Tea Are Both Available in Different Versions

The next factor I would like to compare these drinks on is how many types does each one has?

Well, the most common types of bubble tea that are available are fruit flavoured bubble teas and iced bubble tea. Although I see a lot more options coming up every day like matcha, taro, etc.

Milk tea is also available in several versions, popular gaming which are Thai milk tea, English breakfast tea, Masala tea, etc.  Being a self-proclaimed tea lover it ain’t easy for me to choose between these delish flavours. Although I would recommend Oolong and Thai milk tea for a divine experience each time.

Both Milk Tea & Bubble Tea Can be Paired with Certain Accompaniments

Bubble tea and milk tea can both be served with certain foods.

Bubble Tea goes well with a number of accompaniments. Some of the favourite foods to serve with bubble tea are breakfast bowls, waffles and toasts.

For milk tea, I recommend accompaniment including tea cakes, freshly baked cookies and Indian desserts.

The Basic Difference Between Milk Tea and Bubble Tea Lies in Its Ingredients

Hadn’t it been for the ingredients both bubble tea and milk tea wouldn’t have been what they are today? Therefore, what goes into a cup or the key ingredients is something that becomes essential to consider.

Bubble Tea got its name from the pearls and hence, that definitely is the prime ingredient. Apart from the pearls, sweeteners, fruits, milk and tea are the ingredients that are the salient ingredients that go into the making of a cup.

Milk Tea, on the other hand,  comprises fewer ingredients like milk, ice (cold milk tea or frappes), tea leaves, sugar or sugar substitutes. A cup of milk tea will not be the same without any one ingredient.

Comparing the Vegan-Friendly Nature of the Teas

The changing times have seen a rise for drinks that are Vegan Friendly. This has taken the food and beverage industry too by storm. So, then how can bubble tea and milk tea be behind?

Bubble tea is all prepared to join the rat race and has options like hazelnut, soy milk, and cashew to attract the vegan crowd. In fact, I have written a blog about 19 classic and trendy milk options that work well with bubble tea. Do give it a read and choose your pick.

Milk tea too isn’t far behind and boosts oat, coconut and hemp amongst the many available options.

 Bubble Tea and Milk Tea are Loved in Different Parts of the World

Bubble tea is a fast-catching trend while milk tea has been around for ages. Now, the places where these drinks are popular is what needs to be considered.

Bubble Tea owns its root in Taiwan and no doubt is popular in Taiwan. However, apart from Taiwan, it is enjoyed in Thailand, India(climbing the bubble tea ladder), Japan, Hong Kong, USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Singapore to name a few countries.

Milk Tea has been around for ages and is here to stay. Some countries where it is best enjoyed are India (The Largest Tea Society in the world, China, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Nepal, Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia and Mongolia to name a few.

Both the Teas Have Different Customisation Quotients

Another point of comparison between these popular drinks is, which one can be customised more.

Bubble tea is highly customisable. Right from choosing the base tea, to flavour and toppings, you can customize your drink in any possible way you can imagine. The range of choices it offers can leave a newbie dizzy!

While a traditional milk tea has nothing more than the basic ingredients, in modern times milk tea is witnessing a fair share of customisation. With whipped cream, syrups and toppings, the drink is now quite open for change.

Sugar Usage in Bubble Tea Vs Milk Tea

Sugar adds sweetness to a drink and uplifts the taste quotient. Bubble tea and milk tea both are enjoyed with sugar, hence people do not mind extra sugar too.

When it comes to sugar usage, average bubble tea has more sugar content when compared to bubble tea. This is because not only is the tea sweet but the pearls are sweetened as well.

Milk tea has comparatively lesser sugar. However, it is possible to add more as per your taste.

Bubble Tea & Milk Tea, Both are Celebrated on Different Days

Have you ever considered days when bubble tea and milk tea lovers world over rejoice? If your answer is no, let us see when you to can join the celebrations.

30th April is a day for bubble tea lovers across the globe.

For milk tea lovers, the day of celebration is  21st May. However, milk tea has to share its day of celebration with other varieties of tea.

Nutritional Value of Bubble Tea Vs Milk Tea

Bubble tea and milk tea are both versatile and loved drinks. Therefore, it is important to consider their nutritional value

A glass of bubble tea has 300 calories approximately. The drink is high in very high carbohydrates owing to the use of sugar and boba pearls.

Milk tea has relatively lesser calories. A typical serving of milk tea contains 92 calories. This is way less in comparison to bubble tea.

Comparing the Daily Drinkability Quotient of Bubble Tea & Milk Tea

Too much of anything is bad, but how much of Bubble Tea and milk tea is bad? Let us consider their daily drinkability quotients.

Bubble tea they say isn’t a drink that can be consumed daily. This is owing to the pearls that make the drink starchy making it full of calories as discussed in the point above.

Milk tea on the other hand is known to be a drink that is drunk daily and some prefer it twice or even thrice a day. This is owing to fewer calories.

In Terms of Uniqueness of Flavours, Bubble and Milk Tea Fare Well 

Flavors are what makes a drink and thus, an important aspect to consider. Therefore, let us take a look at the unique flavours they both offer.

Since bubble tea is highly customisable, they are available in a lot of unique flavors. My favourite ones are almond, custard, and cotton candy. They add an oomph to the taste quotient.

Milk tea is also increasingly becoming available in varied flavours.  Some of the most intriguing flavours are butterfly pea flower (blue milk tea), red velvet tea latte and wintermelon.

Tea Bag Usage in Bubble Tea Vs Milk Tea

Teabags are small pouches filled with tea and are used in most tea-loving countries. All you need to do is just dip it in hot water till the desired color is reached.

For Bubble Tea preparation, tea bags are seldom used. Bubble tea in most places is prepared using loose leaf tea.

However. when we talk about milk tea, tea bags are very commonly used in most countries to brew the perfect cup.

Bubble Tea Vs Milk Tea: Options to Serve

The next point of comparison between bubble tea and milk tea is the options to serve hot or cold.

Bubble tea is mostly served cold. However, it can also be served hot.  However, some would advise against going the road less travelled, but I would suggest that you try them both for the love of tea.

Milk tea can also be served both hot and cold. While masala chai and English tea are served hot, thai tea and some forms of Japanese tea taste best when served cold.

Comparing Bubble and Milk Tea for Toppings 

I love the cute little additions called toppings that sit so comfortably on a drink and I recommend trying them with your teas.

Bubble tea comes with a variety of toppings. I recommend toppings like jellies, figs and caramel. They go really well with the overall flavour and texture of bubble tea.

Not only bubble tea, but milk tea also comes with a number of flavours. In the cased of milk tea lovers, my favourites are mint, basil, and chia seeds.

The Brewing Comparison Between Milk and Bubble Tea

The brewing time is an important aspect that brings the desired color and consistency to a drink. Therefore, we must compare the steeping time each drink takes.

Bubble tea requires 5-6 minutes of brewing time approximately for a perfect texture and the right consistency. This though depends upon the kind of color and consistency you want. For cold-brewed bubble tea, brewing takes up to 12 hours.

Milk Tea is something that I learned to brew up at an early age and I make it all the time. Now, I learned to make a cup without having timed it, often brewing the water with tea leaves till a reddish color and then adding milk. This method has never failed me. I recommend an ideal time of 1-4  minutes for brewing.

Caffeine Content in Bubble Tea Vs Milk Tea 

Tea and coffee both contain Caffeine. This helps to stay awake and aid in opening groggy eyes by giving an energy booster.  Therefore, let us consider the level in bubble and milk teas respectively.

Bubble tea has anywhere between 100 milligrams to 160 milligrams of caffeine in a glass assuming black tea is used. When compared to milk tea, this is on the higher side.

The caffeine level in milk tea can vary from 33 milligrams to 50 milligrams. This goes without saying that the tea leaves play a vital role as the amount of caffeine varies from one tea to another.

Comparing What Makes These Teas Popular

Just like humans, drinks too have their own characteristics and this is what draws them apart. Have you ever wondered about the reasons why these teas in the discussion are popular?

Bubble tea has Tapioca Pearls, Popping Boba and Tiger Stripes effect to give it a cut above milk tea apart from the fact that it is a highly versatile drink.

But, do you think milk tea will take this jab silently? No, for it has its advantages ready. People drink it at all times and for many, it is just an excuse for any ailments. Tea is my best morning alarm and my instant source of energy.

Availability of Herbal and Healthy Options for Bubble & Milk Tea

Are you a tea lover who also happens to be health-conscious? For you, let’s take a look

Bubble Tea is available in a variety of herbal and healthy options. Some of my personal favourites are matcha bubble tea and ice bubble tea with aloe vera pearls.

When we talk about milk tea, it is not far behind. Milk tea is available in a number of healthier flavours including matcha milk tea and low-calorie versions.

Knowing the Gluten-Free Nature of the Two Teas

Let us now compare bubble tea and milk tea for the presence of gluten.

The basic version of bubble tea containing tea, sugar, milk, and tapioca contains no gluten and is a safe option for people who have a gluten allergy.

Milk tea is also a gluten-free drink. As a result, everyone can enjoy the drink.

Bubble Tea & Milk Tea Are Known By Different Names

The last point to consider while comparing bubble tea and milk tea for their names.

Bubble tea is known by different names. Pearl milk tea, boba milk tea, tapioca tea, boba pearl milk tea, pearl shake, etc. are some of its common names.

My favorite beverage milk tea is also known by different names. Chai (Indian and Arabic), Te (Italy and Armenia), Tee(Finland), and Tae (Ireland) are a few popular ones.

This brings me to the end of this blog and I would love to hear your opinion about these teas. Which one do you prefer as a tea lover and why? Feel free to drop your views on the subject in the comments section below. 

Happy Sipping 🙂