How to Make Bubble Tea at Home

Stay cool this summer with the ultimate iced tea beverage: bubble tea. Refreshing, decadent, and delicious, classic boba is made with black tea, sweetener, milk, and chewy tapioca pearls. Skip store-bought tea – it’s surprisingly easy to make your own bubble tea at home!

 

Homemade Bubble Tea

If you love going out for bubble tea, you can use this easy recipe to make a batch at home. Many bubble tea shops use artificial ingredients and powders loaded with sugar. Making your own bubble tea gives you control over the ingredients, and using high-quality, organic tea leaves ensures a delicious and flavorful brew.

Whether you’re wondering what exactly bubble tea is, or you’re already a fan but are looking for a way to create your own homemade version, you’re in the right place.

 

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If you love going out for bubble tea, you can use this easy recipe to make a batch at home. Many bubble tea shops use artificial ingredients and powders loaded with sugar. Making your own bubble tea gives you control over the ingredients, and using high-quality, organic tea leaves ensure a delicious and flavorful brew.

Whether you’re wondering what exactly bubble tea is, or you’re already a fan but are looking for a way to create your own homemade version, you’re in the right place.

What is Bubble Tea (or Boba Tea)?

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Also known as pearl milk tea or boba tea, this indulgent summer beverage includes chewy tapioca balls called boba. Tapioca pearls are made from starch derived from the cassava root, and they don’t contribute much in terms of flavor. The real flavor comes from the drink itself and the pearls are there for texture.

The original bubble tea recipe consisted of a hot Taiwanese black tea, large brown pearl tapioca, milk, and several tablespoons of sugar, honey, or simple syrup.

As this drink became more popular, both hot and iced versions soon appeared, with jasmine, green tea, oolong, and fruit flavorings being only a few of the many options. Over time, bubble tea makers also explored using different types of milk, including plant-based alternatives.

Today one can find shops all over America, Europe, and Asia entirely devoted to bubble tea.

 

 

Recipe Highlights

Best Tea Types

To make delicious and balanced bubble tea, you’ll want to choose a strong-tasting tea that will retain its flavor even after you add milk, sweetener, and ice cubes.

Black, oolong, and jasmine are the most common tea bases. Black is the most caffeinated, with a rich, robust flavor, while jasmine and oolong taste lighter and more floral.

 

Brewing the Tea

While many recipes call for hot brewed tea, we opted to use our convenient cold brew sachets. Cold brewing extracts fewer catechins and tannins from the tea leaves

to deliver a smoother, sweeter, and lighter brew.

We recommend steeping cold brew sachets overnight in the refrigerator, or for at least 8 hours, so you will need to plan ahead to get a flavorful infusion.

We love this 2-quart iced tea pitcher (pictured on the right) for cold brewing. It’s ideal because it has a large capacity, and it prominently displays the rich hues of your tea infusions.

 

Tapioca Pearls

With just three basic ingredients, the recipe for making tapioca pearls from scratch is deceptively simple. Rolling each little pearl by hand is a tedious process, so we recommend buying the dried pearls instead. You can find boba online or at almost any Asian grocery store.

Typically, a quarter-cup of dried tapioca pearls is used per serving of tea.

 

 

Ingredient Notes

Black Tea

Strong black teas are the best choice for making classic bubble tea. For this recipe, we used our Pineapple Coconut cold brew sachet. This blend perfectly balances the distinctive taste of black tea with sweet and lively fruit notes.

 

Tapioca Pearls

Though there are quick-cook boba pearls available, most varieties take at least 30 minutes to prepare.

 

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar gives this recipe a deep, rich flavor, but you can easily swap the brown sugar with white sugar.

 

Milk

If you’re lactose-intolerant, vegan, or simply looking to cut back on dairy, opt for plant-based milk such as soy, almond, cashew, coconut, or hemp milk.

 

Water

If possible, opt for filtered water. Better water will make a better-tasting tea.

 

 

Tips & Tricks

  • When cooking the tapioca pearls, wait until the water is boiling to add the pearls otherwise they will dissolve.
  • Boba pearls are best served warm. Don’t let the tapioca pearls cool down completely before you put them into your drink. The longer they cool, the harder they become. Add them when they are still warm for a soft, chewy texture.
  • Don’t make the tapioca pearls too far in advance. They start to harden after 4 hours if they are not stored properly.
  • Storing Extra Boba: The tapioca pearls mixed with sugar syrup can be stored in an air-tight container for 24 hours in the fridge, or frozen as a single layer in the freezer for later use.
  • Boba Straws: If you don’t own any large boba straws, you can serve your drinks with spoons for scooping out the pearls.
  • Adjust the sweetness by straining the tapioca balls from the brown sugar simple syrup before assembling. The remaining simple syrup can be added after all the ingredients have been combined and you have had a chance to taste your tea.

 

YIELD: 4 SERVINGS

Homemade Bubble Tea Recipe

Stay cool this summer with the ultimate iced tea beverage: bubble tea. Made with tapioca pearls, cold brewed Pineapple Coconut black tea, your choice of milk, and brown sugar.

Ingredients:

Black Tea

Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

  • 0.5 cup brown sugar
  • 0.5 cup water

Tapioca Balls

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 8 cups water

Milk

  • 0.5 cup milk of your choice

Note: If you plan on adding half and half or vegan creamer instead of milk, make 2 quarts of tea.

Ice

Instructions:

Prepare the Cold Brew Tea

1. Place one of our readymade Cold Brew Sachets in 1.5 quarts of water (see our 2-quart iced tea pitcher).

2. Steep the tea in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

Make the Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

3. Add the water and sugar to a saucepan and quickly stir together.

4. Heat the water on medium-high and cook until the water boils and the sugar completely dissolves.

5. Remove the saucepan from heat and let the simple syrup cool before transferring to a jar.

Make the Tapioca Pearls

6. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil on the stovetop, then add the tapioca pearls.

7. Wait for the pearls to float to the surface, and then cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. (Follow the directions on your tapioca ball packaging if it requires a longer cooking time).

8. Strain the tapioca pearls and transfer them to a small bowl.

9. Pour the sugar syrup over the pearls until they are fully submerged.

10. Let the pearls cool slightly so they are warm, but not boiling hot.

Assemble the Drinks

11. Divide each element into four large glasses or mason jars. Spoon in the tapioca balls mixed with sugar syrup. Next, add a few ice cubes to each glass.

12. Take your cold brewed tea from the fridge, remove the tea bag, and add the half cup of milk. Then, pour the tea into your four glasses.

13. Stir everything together before drinking, and serve with large boba straws.

14. Enjoy!

 

Recipe by Wei Bertram and Nicole Briel

If you try our recipe, tag us on Instagram or Facebook!