Bubble tea, also known as Boba or Boba tea, is rapidly becoming one of the world’s favorite beverages. We’re guessing you already know what bubble tea is. But in case you don’t… It’s tea served with a giant chewy ball of tapioca at the bottom of the cup. And if you have a sweet tooth, it’s SO GOOD.
Originally created in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea has quickly exploded in popularity. There’s a lot more to bubble tea than meets the eye, and we’ve discovered all of the reasons that it’s a global favorite.
Keep reading to discover everything we’ve uncovered about bubble tea.
General Bubble Tea Statistics
While bubble tea is enjoyed by people of all ages, it tends to be a global favorite among younger people. This is likely due to its naturally sweet flavor and all of the different varieties of teas that are available.
With shops all around the world in many major cities, it’s easy to indulge your bubble tea craving when you want to!
1. Fruit-flavored bubble teas account for the largest percentage of bubble tea consumed at 37%.
Although there are plenty of bubble tea flavors to choose from, fruit teas tend to be the most popular.
Over ⅓ of the bubble tea enjoyed around the world is fruit-flavored.
Some of the most popular fruit flavors include strawberry, blueberry, green apple, pineapple, passion fruit, mango, lemon, watermelon, grape, peach, cantaloupe, banana, and kiwi among others.
Virtually any fruit that you can think of can be enjoyed in a bubble tea drink.
2. Young people between ages 20 and 29 are interested in bubble tea.
According to a recent consumer study, 94% of people between ages 20 and 29 have purchased bubble tea within the last 3 months.
Although people of all ages frequently enjoy bubble teas across the globe, younger people tend to drink them more frequently.
Teenagers and people in their 20s consistently account for the highest consumer percentage of bubble teas.
More people are discovering and enjoying bubble tea every year, however, so these figures may soon change as people age and continue to enjoy their favorite drink.
3. In the United States, 95% of women have tried bubble tea versus 81% of males.
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that bubble tea is going to be more popular among women than men. In the United States, 95% of women have tried bubble tea as opposed to 81% of men.
Girls and women are the primary demographic among bubble tea drinkers, with 95% having tried it.
When you look at the marketing for bubble tea, the numbers make sense.
Bubble tea is often seen as a sweet, fruity, and more feminine drink in the western world, particularly with its multi-colored straws and cute cartoon packaging designs.
In Asia, however, it is equally popular among men and women and is seen as a cultural phenomenon.
4. There was a 3,000% increase in the amount of bubble tea orders in Southeast Asia in 2018.
During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, bubble tea was only consumed in a select few countries including Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.
Since then, however, bubble tea has expanded across the rest of Asia, and there was a sudden explosion of popularity during 2018, particularly in Singapore.
The United States and Australia were both introduced to bubble tea in the mid-1990s, and it has been growing in popularity ever since.
5. Bubble tea typically sells for about $3 to $5 for a 16- to 20-ounce serving.
A typical serving of bubble tea at a chain might cost $3 to $5 for a 16- to 20-ounce cup. Some specialty shops have menus with smaller sizes and prices as low as $2 to $3 per serving.
This is far higher than the cost of a similar amount of milk or juice, but the high price does not seem to deter people from making it their go-to beverage.
The price might seem high, but you have to consider everything that goes into making it, which includes:
- Tea that’s infused with milk or another liquid
- Artificial sweetener like stevia or sugar (more on this below)
- Syrups and flavorings
- Tapioca pearls
- Special straws designed to make the best bubbles possible
On the surface, bubble tea seems like a simple drink. It’s iced or hot black or green tea mixed with chewy tapioca balls that are often flavored. The appearance of the finished drink is what led to its name. Bubble tea got its name from the tapioca balls because when they’re added to the drink and shaken, the balls expand and pop, creating a popping sound—or “bubbling.”
The price for bubble tea depends on where you get it. Frustrated customers have to remember that the tapioca balls aren’t just an inexpensive filler; they’re an integral part of what makes bubble tea unique and fun. They are made from cassava starch, a common ingredient in Brazilian culture, and they take time, effort, and skill to make properly. Extruding the tapioca into these small balls is difficult work.
Businesses that sell bubble tea (including those that serve other drinks, such as coffee and smoothies) face a lot of competition since there are many places where customers can find the same drink.
How Much Is the Bubble Tea Industry Worth
The bubble tea industry is enormous and accounts for one of the fastest-growing food markets in the world today.
The industry shows no signs of slowing down, and in fact, appears to be growing exponentially with every passing year. As more and more countries discover the delicacy that is bubble tea, these figures are sure to continue growing.
6. The bubble tea industry was valued at $2.2 billion in 2019.
Almost overnight bubble tea shops popped up around the world in multiple countries that had never had an interest in it before.
After decades of slowly increasing in popularity, the big bubble tea boom happened in 2018.
Now, there are bubble tea shops everywhere, and many companies have started to offer other bubble tea treats in the form of desserts to expand the marketplace.
7. The bubble tea industry is expected to reach $3.39 billion by 2027.
With bubble tea’s sudden increase in popularity, it should be no surprise that the industry is only expected to keep growing.
In the next five years, the bubble tea industry is expected to grow by nearly 54%.
European countries are just starting to understand the bubble tea craze, and with new dessert products in the making, the only way for this industry to go is up.
Countries That Consume Bubble Tea
When we say that bubble tea is insanely popular, we’re not joking. Bubble tea is drunk by millions of people around the world every single day, even in countries that you might not expect!
8. Bubble tea can be found in over 30 countries.
Bubble tea can be found on every continent today, except for Antarctica, of course!
Of the 30 countries that enjoy bubble tea, most are in Asia.
You can find bubble tea in these countries if you’re traveling the world: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, China, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, United States, Germany, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil, and more!
9. In 2018, there were over 450,000 shops selling bubble tea in China.
Because of its proximity to Taiwan, where bubble tea was created, China quickly became a fan of the sweet beverage.
Introduced to China in the early 1990s, it quickly became one of the most popular drinks in the nation.
Today, bubble tea consumption in China surpasses that of coffee and many other traditional beverages.
10. Thailand leads in bubble tea consumption at an average of 6 cups per person per day.
Nearly everyone in Thailand enjoys drinking bubble tea, to the point that they have surpassed every other country in the amount that they drink!
Many Thai people drink bubble tea daily, and in many cases may drink multiple cups per day.
A popular version of bubble tea, known as Thai iced tea originated in Thailand in the 1800s, and when bubble tea was invented people began adding tapioca balls to it.
11. 87% of American millennials drink tea, including bubble tea.
Bubble tea shops, or Boba tea as it is frequently called in America, can be found in almost every major city across the country.
The drink became popular during the 1990s, just in time for millennials to develop a taste for it.
Today, millennials, zennials, and gen z account for the vast majority of the country’s bubble tea consumption.
How Bubble Tea is Made
Bubble tea is a sweet, delicious drink typically made from a tea base that is then mixed with either milk or fruit flavoring. Sometimes they are blended with ice to give them a more slushy-like consistency.
Chewy tapioca balls or different flavored jellies are then added to give bubble tea the fun, chewy texture that it is known for!
12. There are 250 different flavors of bubble tea.
Whether you’re feeling something sweet, fruity, and refreshing, something soothing and tea-like, or a slushy smoothie like-drink, bubble tea has you covered.
Virtually any flavor that you can imagine exists with bubble tea.
If you have an adventurous palette, we highly recommend trying as many different flavors as you can to find the one that will be your favorite!
13. There are six official “types” of bubble tea.
With 250 different flavors, it makes sense that there would be different bases to the teas.
But did you know that there are six different types of bubble tea?
The types include milk tea, black tea, fresh fruit tea, smoothies or milkshakes, fresh milk, and salted cream.
What’s your favorite bubble tea base to start with?
14. A 16 oz serving of bubble tea contains 38 grams of sugar, which is 76% of the recommended daily value.
Bubble tea is known for its sweet taste. It should be no surprise then that sugar is a primary ingredient in the drink.
What may surprise you though is the amount of sugar!
With 38 grams per 16oz beverage, bubble tea should be enjoyed in moderation. We don’t recommend anyone making it a daily indulgence. For those looking to cut back on sugar, bubble tea may not be the best choice.
These drinks are made with milk tea and tapioca pearls (to make the bubbles), which contain a lot of natural sugar. It’s not just the sugar that gives these drinks their sweetness, though; many restaurants also add sweeteners to them. Additionally, they can be ordered with fruit or boba, both of which are high in added sugar.
15. Tapioca pearls are made from cassava flour, of which Nigeria is the world’s largest exporter (21%).
The chewy tapioca balls or pearls are undoubtedly the stars of any bubble tea drink.
Although the drink was originally created in Taiwan, its signature ingredient is primarily grown in Nigeria, Thailand, Indonesia, and Brazil.
Cassava flour itself comes from the cassava root, which is native to South America but has become a staple food in many African nations. Nigeria, specifically, has become a hub for cassava production. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Nigeria is the largest exporter of cassava at 21% of the world’s amount.
Bubble tea truly is an international drink!
16. Bubble tea is extremely high in calories.
An average, medium-sized serving of bubble tea has, on average, 335 calories.
That number increases when you go up in size to 469 calories and only gets worse as you add in more toppings or extra flavors.
At the end of the day, it’s not much worse than an occasional soda would be for the average person, but it’s important to remember to only have bubble tea once in a while.
There’s a lot to love about bubble tea.
For one, there are all of the sweet flavors and fun combinations of ingredients you can get.
But the most important thing to love is that it’s a beverage category that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past ten years or so, with seemingly no end in sight.
Thanks for sticking with me in this huge post. I hope you learned something from it, even if it was that you should lay off the bubble tea because really, you probably have had enough of that stuff by now.
If you’re looking for a sweet, refreshing drink that doesn’t compromise on flavor or quality, bubble tea is the answer. And if you’re looking for all the facts and figures that back up our claim, you have this blog post.