How to Make Bubble Tea at Home
Bubble tea or boba is a delicious Taiwanese drink that’s sweet, chewy, and fun. Almost everyone loves it – but what if you can’t find any shops nearby? Or if you’re skeptical of the ready-made ones in stores? Our definitive guide will tell you everything you need to know about this moreish drink and even how to make it at home.
Table of Contents
Here is a recipe for making Bubble Tea at Home:
- 1 cup black tea, loose-leaf or bags
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup tapioca pearls
- Ice cubes
- Brew the black tea according to the package directions.
- While the tea is brewing, make the simple syrup by mixing the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Take to a boil, then remove from the heat and let cool.
- Once the tea remains brewed, strain it and add the simple syrup.
- Add the milk and stir to combine.
- Cook the tapioca pearls rendering to the package directions.
- Once the tapioca pearls remain cooked, drain them and rinse them with cold water.
- To assemble the bubble tea, add ice cubes to a glass. Then, add the tea mixture, followed by the tapioca pearls.
- Stir to combine, and enjoy!
Here are some tips for making Bubble Tea at Home:
- Use a strong black tea for the best flavor.
- Don’t overcook the tapioca pearls, or they will become hard.
- Use your favorite milk. We can also use almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk.
- Experiment with different flavors of simple syrup. You can use honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar.
- Add your favorite toppings like fruit, jelly, or boba-popping pearls.
I hope you enjoy making bubble tea at home!
What is Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea is a concoction between black tea, milk, ice, and chewy tapioca pearls. If, by some stroke of bad luck, you have never had or heard of it, this brilliant beverage is an Asian twist on the traditional drink.
Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based beverage named milk tea, pearl tea, tapioca tea, boba tea, boba nai cha, foam milk tea, and several others.
Invented in the 1980s, the same story of who invented Bubble Tea remains somewhat debated. However, it remains believed that Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui of the Chun Shui Tang Tea Shop in Taichung, Taiwan, came up with the drink when she randomly poured fen yuan into her iced tea during a meeting in 1988.
Fast forward three decades and this discovery of milk tea mixed with tapioca balls has evolved into hundreds of unique bubble tea flavor combinations. Bubble tea shops are seemingly everywhere these days (I know of at least three within two miles of my house), and the color varieties, thanks to all the different flavors (like green tea, strawberry, taro, and mango!), seem to keep getting cooler and cooler.
What is Bubble Tea Made Of?
Tea: I used a simple English Breakfast Black Tea. I had it on hand, high in caffeine (how I like it), and it worked perfectly. Oolong tea would also work nicely, or any other robust black tea. Don’t worry about over-steeping your tea since you will add milk (or cream) and some sugar.
Milk: I like to use whole milk or half-and-half. Heavy cream is too heavy, and low-fat milk doesn’t add enough creaminess. Dairy milk and creamer or full-fat coconut milk are my top picks, but other plant-based milk alternatives (soy milk, almond milk, oat milk) will work, too. For an extra creamy treat, try adding sweetened condensed milk.
Sweetener: The benefit of making bubble tea at home is adding as much or as little sugar as you like. The total amount will vary depending on the type of milk you use, how long you steep your tea, and personal preference. I used granulated white sugar in this recipe, but simple syrup, or agave would also work.
Ice: Of course, bubble tea may come either hot or cold these days. However, in this case, you’ll need ice. Depending on how cool your tea gets will determine how much ice you’ll need.
Tapioca Pearls (or boba) This is the boba that I used to make this bubble tea recipe. It is fast-cooking, meaning they don’t take over an hour to cook. They take just 5-10 minutes. One essential thing to note about quick-cooking tapioca pearls – do not make them ahead of time. After just 1-2 hours, they will stiffen and dry out.