In many major cities in the U.S., the fastest way to get boba tea requires simply walking out the door — these days, shops serving the tapioca-sphere-filled plastic cups crowd in alongside Starbucks and Dunkin' to fight for the country's drink dollars. But for those times when putting on pants seems too big an obstacle, or for folks that live too far from the rapid proliferation of Taiwanese-style tea shops, Costco offers a solution: instant boba tea. Naturally, I had to try it.
Called Taiwan Boba Milk Tea and made by the company J Way Foods, the Costco pack includes enough boba and flavor pouches to make 10 cups of tea and costs $14.79. The cost works out to about $1.50 per cup, making it a significant savings over buying the drink in a shop, where they usually start at almost three times that.
To prepare the instant boba tea, you microwave the boba inside the plastic packaging for about 20 seconds. Then, for most of the drinks, you empty the flavored powder into two ounces of hot water and mix. Following that, add ice and cold water or milk before adding in the boba themselves. The pack even includes an oversized boba straw, which completes the experience.
The ten-pack includes passionfruit–pineapple green tea with fruity boba, crème brûlée milk tea with caramel boba, classic milk tea with brown sugar boba, and taro milk tea with brown sugar boba. Each cup tastes nearly exactly like the advertised flavor, and the boba plumps up nicely and softens to a pleasant chewiness in the microwave.
It might not have perfectly replicated the tea shop experience, but it came darn close at a fraction of the cost — especially since my kids couldn't tell the difference at all. Of course, if you don't live near a Costco, either, you can purchase the tea on Amazon or Walmart at slightly different prices — or enjoy a DIY home boba experience instead. The path you choose may take more than 20 seconds, but you'll be rewarded no matter what.