The options are pretty much limitless when it comes to ice cream flavors, just look at OddFellows Ice Cream Co. They have flavors named Olive Oil Jelly Donut and Miso Peanut Butter Brownie. While not as crazy as OddFellows, Trader Joe’s food scientists or whatever you call these masterminds did something that someone should have done years ago when Boba first caught on. They created a non-dairy coconut based black tea flavored Boba frozen dessert (ice cream). This was love at first sight in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s I just hope no one noticed.
What is Boba?
For those that are unfamiliar, Boba is a type of large tapioca pearl made from tapioca starch. Boba is used in Boba tea (sometimes called bubble tea), which gives this beverage a unique texture experience. You not only get to drink your drink but play with it in your mouth and chew it as well. This makes for a fun and tasty drinking experience.
Boba tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and was eventually brought to the US just a decade later thanks to Taiwanese immigrants. Since then, the Boba craze has taken over the nation.
Back in March 2022, Trader Joe’s put its own spin on bubble tea by concocting a Black Tea and Boba Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. Rather than sipping soft Boba and creamy milk tea through an oversized straw, this non-dairy frozen dessert lets you go at your Boba tea by the spoonful in. This frozen dessert is popular not only for its Boba inclusions but also because it is fully vegan, so anyone can enjoy it!
Like most ice cream, the Black Tea and Boba Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert didn’t have much of a scent to it upon opening the container. Once you got closer though, it did have the soft, creamy aroma of black milk tea. Enough to get me excited for what was to come.
The dessert was harder than regular ice cream and a bit hard to scoop. Such is common though with non-dairy frozen desserts. You can use a warm spoon to help you or pop the dessert into the microwave for a few seconds to soften it up if you need to. But no more than 5 or 10 seconds or you’ll end up with liquid. Or if you have patience unlike me, just leave it out on the counter for a minute or two to soften.
In my first bite, I first noticed the rich, creamy flavor of black milk tea. The love affair continued…At the store it was love at first sight, at home, it was love at first bite.
With a base of coconut milk, I was skeptical of how accurate the flavor would be. I was surprised to find it light and refreshing in a way only milk tea can be. It also had strong notes of brown sugar to sweeten it up, which was delightful.
You can see the brown sugar swirl generously woven throughout the coconut cream. The two flavors complemented each other well. A bit sweeter than normal milk tea, but it is a dessert, after all.
Once I got to the Boba, it was a bit of a different story. Boba has a very neutral flavor, since it’s really just a tapioca ball. This was no different. The Boba didn’t have a strong taste and wasn’t as sweet as it normally is in real bubble tea, likely because it wasn’t sitting in syrup while it was on my spoon.
The Good and The Bad
Overall, the Black Tea and Boba Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert delicious. The base of the dessert was creamy, light, and refreshing, which is really all I could ask for in a frozen vegan dessert. The flavor was rich and it was a on the sweeter side so I did stop myself after a small bowl with one scoop.
However, there was one main issue: the Boba.
While I hate to say it, the Boba caused issues for me in this dessert. Why, you ask? Frozen Boba is hard to eat.
That seems a bit silly in retrospect, but the satisfaction of Boba for me comes from its soft chewiness. The Boba pearls were like hard balls that you either had to force your teeth through or wait to defrost in your mouth before chewing. While the base of the dessert was delicious, I would like an ice cream scientist to find a way to make frozen Boba softer for my poor teeth.
It makes me consider topping this ice cream base with warm Boba. Now that sounds delicious.
Trader Joe’s Boba Ice Cream Caffeine
When you’re consuming ice cream you’re typically not doing so for a jolt of energy or because you’re feeling sluggish. It’s a satisfying mid day snack on a warm summer day or an after dessert before bedtime.
Being that Trader Joe’s Boba Ice Cream flavors come in coffee and black tea we were surprised that no caffeine content was listed on the label.
When our 11 year old son tried the black tea and Boba coconut ice cream and liked it I wanted to be sure that we weren’t giving him unnecessary amounts of caffeine, especially before bedtime. We’re very conscience of caffeine content when comes to our kids diets.
After confirming with Trader Joe’s, the Black Tea with Boba Ice Cream contains 32mg of caffeine per serving while the Trader Joe’s Cold Brew Coffee and Boba contains 105mg of caffeine per serving.
According to the USDA, there is approximately 95 mg of caffeine in an 1 cup (8 fl oz) of brewed coffee. Black tea on the other hand contains 47 mg per 1 cup (8 fl oz).
We were curious to see how the caffeine content in the Boba ice cream stacked up with some other common food and beverages and created this chart with information from the USDA.
We hope this information is as helpful to you as it was for us!
Trader Joe’s Boba Ice Cream Nutrition
Trader Joe’s Boba Ice Cream Ingredients
WATER, COCONUT MILK (WATER, COCONUT CREAM), TAPIOCA PEARLS (GLUCOSE SYRUP, WATER, MODIFIED TAPIOCA STARCH, POWDERED SUGAR [SUGAR, TAPIOCA STARCH], RICE BRAN OIL SHORTENING, CARAMEL COLOR), BROWN SUGAR SWIRL (WATER, BROWN SUGAR, GLUCOSE SYRUP, SUGAR, SEA SALT), SUGAR, MALTODEXTRIN, BLACK TEA POWDER, DEXTROSE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES OF FATTY ACIDS, SEA SALT, GUAR GUM, CAROB BEAN GUM.
Trader Joe’s Boba Ice Cream Gluten Free
While not labeled gluten free, there are no ingredients on the label to suggest that the black tea and Boba ice cream contains gluten. After additional research, there are many Trader Joe’s fans with celiac and gluten sensitivities that seem to enjoy this product without issue. As always, do you own due diligence to make sure this product is safe for you.
Trader Joe’s Black Tea and Boba Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert was definitely an interesting product to try. Although not the soft, chewy Boba experience I was looking for. The Black Tea Boba Ice Cream was fun to try and a great conversation starter. Having a creamy, delicious, non-dairy milk tea base didn’t hurt either.
If you’re looking for something unique to soothe your sweet tooth this week, give Trader Joe’s Black Tea and Boba Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert a try and decide for yourself! I’d love to hear what you think!