If you are a bubble tea lover, some of the terms might be quite confusing for you. For example, tapioca pears and boba, are partially overlayed but exist some real-deal differences. Let’s get a quick view and find out the answer.

tapioca pearls vs boba pearls
tapioca pearls vs boba pearls

Tapioca pearls

Tapioca pearls refer to all balls made from tapioca starch, which is a naturally gluten-free starch from the root of cassava. The balls can be in different

sizes, starting from 2mm to 6-7 mm.

  • The smaller one, 1/12-inch (2 mm) in diameter, is called sago pearls. It is a popular ingredient for puddings, beverages, and desserts. This type of tapioca pearl is not “boba”.
  • Middle-size one, 3mm in diameter, is commonly known as tapioca pearls. They are commonly used in desserts.
  • Larger size balls, around 6mm to 8mm in diameter, are the real boba used in bubble milk tea. They’re small enough to pass through a large straw but large enough to chew. So larger size balls are boba pearls.
different size of white boba pearls
different size of white tapioca pearls

Conclusion: tapioca boba pearls are tapioca pearls but not all tapioca pearls are boba.


Now let’s move on to boba. Firstly, let’s make sure we are talking about boba pearls but not tea drinks.

Originally, Boba pearls are round, chewy balls made from tapioca starch, sizing from 6.5mm to 9mm.

However, you may find some similar-looking pearls that are not chewy boba at all.

Along with the popularity of bubble milk tea, the term “boba pearls” evolved to include these other variations like crystal boba and popping boba. So boba pearls have three sub-groups, they are:

  • Tapioca boba pearls: made from tapioca starch
  • Crystal boba pearls: made from agar and using a jelly-like method
  • Popping boba pearls: from a seaweed extract (like sodium alginate) and filled with sweetened juices.


Tapioca pearls vs Boba. They overlay with each other partially. Large-size tapioca pearls are boba pearls but boba can also refer to popping boba and crystal boba.

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