We Tried Costco Bubble Tea. Is It Worth the Hype?
Costco bubble tea means you no longer need to head to a boba shop.
Have you tried bubble tea? How about Costco bubble tea?
First, an acknowledgement: Bubble tea isn’t everyone’s cup of—well, tea. Not everyone can wrap their mind around the idea of drinking a beverage while simultaneously sucking up marble-sized tapioca or jelly spheres through a wide straw.
But then again, there are people out there who don’t like chocolate desserts. Or who think peanut butter and jelly are a terrible pairing. Or people who don’t frost their birthday cakes.
While everyone’s preferences vary widely, those who like bubble tea usually love bubble tea. Also known as boba tea, this Taiwanese drink is delicious. When I first tried it, it took me all of 5 seconds to get used to the unusual sensation of the chewy bubbles. Now, I’m a huge fan.
Does Costco Have Bubble Tea Now?
I generally get my bubble tea made to order at a local shop, but I know not everyone is lucky enough to live close to one. When I was in Japan, I bought it ready-made in convenience stores. Back home in the U.S., I found that some Asian grocery stores in my city sell similar brands to what I saw when I was abroad.
After trying the ready-made versions here, I was surprised to find that ready-made bubble tea isn’t noticeably worse, or even different, than the custom-made versions. So when I learned Costco sells bubble tea, I knew I absolutely had to try it.
Explaining Costco’s Bubble Tea
I tried Joyba bubble tea, a ready-to-drink beverage that sells for $15 for a pack of eight at Costco. It’s also available at Target and grocery stores.
The company is launching a new line of botanical flavors on Sept. 18, including strawberry rose and sweet peach honeysuckle. Those flavors won’t be sold at Costco yet, though they will be sold at Target, Safeway and Albertsons.
Of the four flavors I tried, two used black tea and fruit, two used green tea and fruit. I generally prefer black tea at a boba shop, but green tea is also good.
Costco Bubble Tea Kit Review
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper for Taste of Home
If you’ve never had bubble tea before, Joyba’s packaging might take a little getting used to. The oh-so-necessary wide straw is attached to each cup with plastic wrap. You peel up the wrap from the bottom, and the straw, which was sitting in a little indentation on the cup, is freed. It’s only half as long as you need it to be, but it slides up to full length easily. Use the pointy end of the straw to stab through the plastic-topped cup to drink. (There’s no need to peel the plastic off the top.)
The boba used in Joyba drinks isn’t the chewy tapioca in most bubble teas. This is popping bubble tea, meaning pearls with a thin, gel-like film pop and release fruit juice. Personally, I prefer the tapioca originals, but there’s nothing wrong with the popping boba. Except when you can’t get it to climb up the straw. More on that soon.
Strawberry lemonade green tea
I tried the strawberry lemonade green tea flavor first, expecting it to be my favorite. It wasn’t, but it was pretty good. Fans of strawberry lemonade will note that the addition of green tea cuts the drink’s sweetness, but there’s still a decent amount of fruit flavor. I was disappointed here by the popping boba. I found perhaps two, and one seemed to have already popped before finding its way into my straw. I had no idea this would be the most boba-filled drink of the four I tried.
Mango passion fruit green tea
The mango passion fruit flavor also used green tea, rather than black. I faced a weird problem here. The straw came off easily, but its sharp point was already bent, and would not pierce the cover of the drink no matter what I did. I finally took the straw out of another drink and it went in on the first try. As for the taste, at first I thought I really liked the mango passion fruit version, but its original sweet tropical taste gave way to an unpleasant, chemical aftertaste. And no matter how hard I hunted, I tasted no popping bubbles. They were in the drink, but didn’t seem to know how to climb up the straw.
Raspberry dragon fruit black tea
I’m a fan of dragon fruit, the unusual fruit with a scaly skin and a similar texture to kiwi. So I was excited to try the Joyba raspberry dragon fruit black tea drink. The flavor was an enjoyable, fruity blend, although honestly I couldn’t tell if I was tasting more raspberry or dragon fruit. Once again, I had trouble locating any popping boba. The tea taste was stronger in the two black tea drinks than the two green tea versions.
Blueberry pomegranate black tea
I’m not a big fan of blueberry to start out with, but I gave the blueberry pomegranate black tea a go. It was a positive surprise. The blueberry flavor isn’t overwhelming and the black tea helps it not come out as overwhelmingly sweet. This one might have been my favorite. But once again, I didn’t find a single popping boba.
So where did all the popping boba go?
I love tapioca pearls in the boba I usually get. I know the popping boba used here is different, but I still expected it would find its way up the straw and into my mouth as I drank the tea. I figured that every other sip or so would feature a popping boba taste. But of the four flavors I tried, only one—the strawberry lemonade—sent any boba up the straw. I was so disappointed!
Since the flavors had been sent to me in the mail, I wondered if the fragile boba had burst in transit.
So I tried an experiment, slitting the top of the blueberry pomegranate black tea and pouring it out into a colander. Plenty of intact popping boba poured out. They are there! I tried a couple, and as promised, they pop entertainingly in your mouth. I tested another flavor, and yes, the popping boba were there. But, for some reason, they just don’t make it up the straw as is the case with tapioca boba.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper for Taste of Home
I love bubble tea! But overall, I’m not sure I’d buy Joyba at Costco, or elsewhere, since I prefer the milky version to these summery fruit teas and I was bummed out that I had to open up the drink and manually pour or spoon out the popping boba to get to taste it.
Turns out, I might just have to learn to make bubble tea at home!