Crystal boba and regular tapioca boba are the two most popular topping and bubble ingredients for boba milk tea.  You may wonder about the differences of the two types, which one to choose. Is crystal boba healthier, we will cover everything.

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What’s crystal boba

Crystal boba pearls are a type of boba pearl that is made like jelly using agar powder or konjac plant powder. So their other names includes konjac pearls, agar boba or agar pearls.

They are transparent in color and have a slightly softer texture compared to regular boba pearls.

What’s boba

Regular boba pearls are chewy, large, round pearls made from tapioca starch. It is the most classic boba.  Boba pearls can be infused by other colors and ingredients (strawberry boba, golden boba and honey boba). Boba pearls are usually packaged as dry boba pearls. You need to cook them before using.

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Difference of crystal boba and regular boba

We will go through their difference one by one.

 Boba PearlCrystal Boba
NameZhen Zhu, Tapioca Pearl, Tapioca BallsAgar Boba, Crystal boba
TasteSweet. The sweetness generally depends on the type of sweetener used whether brown sugar, white sugar, agave nectar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup.Plain crystal boba will have a mild sweet taste with a hint of tang. However there are flavored and colored crystal boba that will take the flavor of what it was intended for example it’s a mango flavored crystal boba – it will have a sweet, natural mango taste.
ColorBlack, brown, or clear depending on the type of sweetener used.Clear, white-ish, semi-translucent with colors from the fruit or other ingredient used.
TextureChewy, Spongy, SpringyChewy, Soft, Jelly-like but a little bit crackling.
Cooking Method (from store-bought bags)Usually needs boiling and then straining (except ready-to-use instant boba pearls)No need to cook

Crystal boba vs boba: ingredients

The main difference of crystal boba and regular boba is about the ingredients.

  • Ingredients: regular boba pearls come from tapioca root starch while crystal boba comes from the glucomannan in the konjac plant or agar powder from seaweed.
  • Shape: Boba pearls are also generally spherical, whereas crystal boba may be more free-form because it is formed by molds.

Crystal boba vs boba: Making process

The process of making those two types of boba are different too.

  • Regular boba is made from a dough from tapioca starch, sweetener and water. If you want to make it at home, you will need to spend lots of time shaping the pearls.
  • While the process of making crystal boba is similar to make jelly. Agar powder is mixed with water and then pour into a special mould. The pearls can be shaped very quickly.

Crystal boba vs boba: taste difference

Regular boba has a mild and slightly sweet flavor with a chewy and gummy texture. It does not have a strong taste on its own but can absorb the flavor of the sweetener or other ingredients added.

Crystal boba has a more subtle flavor compared to regular boba and is slightly sweeter. It has a softer and more jelly-like texture, which some people find more refreshing and less heavy compared to regular boba.  

Crystal boba vs boba: package difference and shell life

You can find both regular boba and crystal boba in store-bought packages, but there are some differences between the two.

Regular boba pearls are usually sold in vacuum-sealed packages as dry boba pearls. You may find lots of colored tapioca starch like pink ones, green ones. Check our types of boba pearls for more information.

Regular boba pearls can be stored at room temperature for a few months, as long as they are kept in a dry and cool place.

Crystal boba pearls are often sold in small cups or bags filled with liquid. Crystal boba pearls need to be stored in the refrigerator once opened and have a shorter shelf life compared to regular boba pearls.

Shape difference

Shape: Boba pearls are also generally spherical because they are shaped hand shaped. Whereas crystal boba may be more free-form because it is formed by molds or cut into small cubes.

Nutritions Facts

Regular boba pearls are typically high in carbohydrates and calories because the starch containedd. A 100-gram serving of regular boba pearls contains around 250 calories, 62 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat and protein.

Crystal boba pearls, made from the konjac plant, are lower in calories and carbohydrates compared to regular boba pearls because the ingredients are only sweetener, water and agar powder or konjac plants. A 100-gram serving of crystal boba pearls contains around 35 calories depending on the sweetener type and amount, 9 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of fat and protein.

Is crystal boba healthier than boba

For me, I believe most crystal boba and regular boba are food without too much healthy concerns especially for homemade version. Crystal boba pearls are lower in calories and carbohydrates compared to regular boba pearls, which can make them a better choice for those who are watching their calorie and carbohydrate intake.

In addition, crystal boba is much softer and easy to chew. For all store bought version, pay attention to food coloring.  

Yes, that’s correct. Let’s look at the table below:

 Tapioca Pearls, dry, 100g.Crystal Boba, 100g.
Calories358 calories70 calories
  • Crystal boba is the obvious winner with lower calories than boba pearls. The lower caloric density of crystal boba is friendlier on our waistlines.
  • Secondly, while boba pearls have a lower sugar and crystal boba weighs in at 11.2 g of sugar. But, tapioca pearls still need sugar.
  • Crystal boba is healthier because it contains added refined sugars and is only slightly sweet unlike boba pearls which need to be soaked in a lot of syrup.
  • Some recipes call for a tablespoon of sugar for every ¼ cup of boba pearls. According to the USDA there’s approximately 48.9 calories for every tablespoon of sugar.
  • To anyone watching their sugar intake, it’s another plus for crystal boba. In terms of weight loss, crystal boba seems far healthier than regular tapioca pearls.
  • Furthermore, those with severe digestive difficulties, and root vegetable or latex allergies, tapioca starch may be more difficult to deal with.
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So are you in crystal boba for its softer and crackling texture or in chewy boba pearls?

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