How to order Bubble Tea in Chinese

Bubble tea, or boba, is a globally popular drink with chains opening stores in cities worldwide. When traveling to Taiwan, trying bubble tea and learning how to order it in Chinese is essential for the full experience. However, with lengthy menus and multiple questions about sugar, ice, and bags, ordering can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, it’s worth taking the time to customize your drink to your liking. This article covers the basics of bubble tea and how to order it in Chinese.

Originating from Taiwan, bubble tea was created when a development manager added tapioca balls to her iced tea, which became an instant hit. Today, it’s a beloved drink enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, with a variety of flavors to choose from, including classic pearl milk tea and fruity concoctions. Anyone visiting Taiwan should try bubble tea at least once to fully appreciate this delightful drink.

How to order Bubble Tea in Chinese

bubble tea ordering a bubble tea

First of all it is important to know how to say “bubble tea” in Chinese. Depending of the store, there exist two ways to say bubble tea in Chinese; 珍珠奶茶 (ㄓㄣ ㄓㄨ ㄋㄞˇ ㄔㄚˊ), literally “pearl milk tea”, and 波霸奶茶 (ㄅㄛ ㄅㄚˋ ㄋㄞˇ ㄔㄚˊ), literally “boba milk tea”.

Once you are in front of the vendor, you can use the following sentence to order bubble tea: :

我要一杯珍珠奶茶 (ㄨㄛˇ ㄧㄠˋ ㄧ ㄅㄟ ㄓㄣ ㄓㄨ ㄋㄞˇ ㄔㄚˊ) – I want a bubble tea

我要ㄨㄛˇ ㄧㄠˋwǒ yàoI want …
一杯ㄧ ㄅㄟyī bēiOne cup/ glass (of)
珍珠奶茶ㄓㄣ ㄓㄨ ㄋㄞˇ ㄔㄚˊzhēn zhū nǎi cháPearl milk tea
波霸奶茶ㄅㄛ ㄅㄚˋ ㄋㄞˇ ㄔㄚˊbō bà nǎi cháBoba milk tea

Customizing your Bubble Tea

After mastering the fundamental format for ordering bubble tea, it’s time to elevate your experience by personalizing your drink. In Taiwan, you have the option to tailor the size, sweetness level, and ice amount to your liking.


The vendor will first ask you whether you want a medium or large cup :

中杯或是大杯?(ㄓㄨㄥ ㄅㄟ ㄏㄨㄛˋ ㄕˋ ㄉㄚˋ ㄅㄟ ?) – Medium or large cup?

小杯ㄒㄧㄠˇ ㄅㄟxiǎo bēiSmall cup
中杯ㄓㄨㄥ ㄅㄟzhōng bēiMedium cup
大杯ㄉㄚˋ ㄅㄟdà bēiLarge cup
超大杯ㄔㄠ ㄉㄚˋ ㄅㄟchāo dà bēiExtra large cup

*Note : Very few store offer small cup and extra large cup options.

Sweetness & ice

After selecting the cup size, you will need to specify how sweet you want your drink to be by indicating the amount of sugar you want added to it. Additionally, you will need to specify how much ice you want in your drink. Although most bubble tea is served cold, some drinks have the option to be served hot.

The vendor will simply ask you :

甜度、冰塊?(ㄊㄧㄢˊ ㄉㄨˋ 、 ㄅㄧㄥ ㄎㄨㄞˋ ?) – Sweetness, ice cube?

Below are the possible options for sweetness :

全糖ㄑㄩㄢˊ ㄊㄤˊquán tángFull sugar
少糖ㄕㄠˇ ㄊㄤˊshǎo tángLess sugar
半糖ㄅㄢˋ ㄊㄤˊbàn tángHalf sugar
微糖ㄨㄟ ㄊㄤˊwēi tángLow sugar
無糖ㄨˊ ㄊㄤˊwú tángNo sugar

*Note : Anything above half sugar will give you diabetes!

Below are the possible options for the ice :

正常冰ㄓㄥˋ ㄔㄤˊ ㄅㄧㄥzhèng cháng bīngNormal ice
少冰ㄕㄠˇ ㄅㄧㄥshǎo bīngLess ice
去冰ㄑㄩˋ ㄅㄧㄥqù bīngNo ice (but still cold)
常溫ㄔㄤˊ ㄨㄣcháng wēnRoom temperature
冰的ㄅㄧㄥ ㄉㄜ˙bīng deCold
熱的ㄖㄜˋ ㄉㄜ˙rè deHot

With these options, you can tailor your bubble tea to your exact preferences, creating the perfect drink for you.

What are on Bubble Tea menus?

Bubble tea menus can be quite extensive and varied, making it challenging to decide on a drink. We will provide an overview of the different items commonly found on bubble tea menus.

different kinds of bubble tea

Types of tea

Familiarizing yourself with the fundamental tea categories can help in understanding bubble tea menus. These tea categories are frequently blended with fruit, milk, or other flavors.

紅茶ㄏㄨㄥˊ ㄔㄚˊhóng cháBlack tea
綠茶ㄌㄩˋ ㄔㄚˊlǜ cháGreen tea
烏龍茶ㄨ ㄌㄨㄥˊ ㄔㄚˊwū lóng cháOolong tea
普洱茶ㄆㄨˇ ㄦˇ ㄔㄚˊpǔ ěr cháPu-erh tea
茉莉花茶ㄇㄛˋ ㄌㄧˋ ㄏㄨㄚ ㄔㄚˊmò lì huā cháJasmin tea
抹茶ㄇㄛˇ ㄔㄚˊmǒ cháMatcha

Toppings & add-ins

While many bubble tea drinks already come with toppings such as tapioca pearls, you can also opt to add extra toppings for an additional charge. Here are some of the most prevalent add-ins that you’ll typically find on bubble tea menus.

珍珠ㄓㄣ ㄓㄨzhēn zhūTapioca pearls
椰果ㄧㄝ ㄍㄨㄛˇyē guǒCoconut jelly
布丁ㄅㄨˋ ㄉㄧㄥbù dīngPudding
仙草ㄒㄧㄢ ㄘㄠˇxiān cǎoGrass jelly
紅豆ㄏㄨㄥˊ ㄉㄡˋhóng dòuRed beans
蘆薈ㄌㄨˊ ㄏㄨㄟˋlú huìAloe vera
芋頭ㄩˋ ㄊㄡˊyù touTaro
冰淇淋ㄅㄧㄥ ㄑㄧˊ ㄌㄧㄣˊbīng qí línIce cream
多多ㄉㄨㄛ ㄉㄨㄛduō duōYakult
蜂蜜ㄈㄥ ㄇㄧˋfēng mìHoney
奶蓋ㄋㄞˇ ㄍㄞˋnǎi gàiMilk foam

Ordering bubble tea in Chinese can seem daunting at first, but it’s a skill worth mastering for anyone who loves this delicious drink. By learning the basic vocabulary and understanding how to customize your drink, you can fully appreciate the wide variety of bubble tea flavors and combinations available. So the next time you find yourself in a bubble tea shop in the streets of Taiwan, remember to practice your Chinese and create the perfect drink for yourself.

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