Step into nearly any boba café or Taiwanese restaurant and you’ll be confronted with a unique beverage option: bubble tea. It’s a unique drink that, over the years, has developed a dedicated following. We’ll introduce you to bubble tea—and show you how to make it at home.
But wait, what is bubble tea?
Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is a tea-based drink flavored with milk or fruit (or sometimes both!) with marble-sized tapioca balls mixed in. These iconic little pearls are what distinguishes boba tea from other drinks—they’re soft, chewy and seem to burst in your mouth. The drink is typically served cold (just like these tasty iced tea recipes).
How do you make bubble tea?
To make bubble tea at home, you’ll need tea, tapioca pearls, a sweetener, and if desired, milk or fruit juice. You can find the pearls at a local Asian market, in the ethnic food aisle of your local grocery store or on Amazon.
Bubble Tea Recipe
Boba tea is a highly customizable beverage, so there’s no one way to make it. This basic bubble tea recipe can be tweaked to fit your taste.
Step 1: Prep the Tapioca Pearls
First, you’ll want to prepare the tapioca pearls. Most brands sell the pearls hard, so you’ll need to boil or soak them before adding to the tea. And how do you boil tapioca pearls? Well, that depends on the brand and how dehydrated they are. Follow package instructions for the best results.
Step 2: Brew Your Tea
Next, brew your tea. We recommend brewing a little stronger than if you planned to drink it plain. Steep for about 5 minutes, then discard the tea leaves or bags. If you want sweetened boba tea, add sugar—one spoonful at a time—to the warm tea until you reach the desired sweetness. Stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar.
Step 3: Add Flavor
To prepare the tea, place the softened tapioca pearls in a tall glass. Then, in a separate glass or cocktail shaker, shake the tea and any other add-ins over ice. Pour into the prepared glass and serve with wide straws. For a creamy tea, add a splash of your favorite milk or stir in some milk powder. For a fruity tea, add in your favorite fruit juice.
Popular Bubble Tea Flavors
Take your boba tea to the next level with one of these fun flavors. Get creative!
- Strawberry—Use strawberry flavored tea, garnish with fresh strawberries.
- Matcha—Use matcha green tea powder.
- Mango—Add a little mango nectar, garnish with fresh mango. (Learn more ways to use the tropical fruit here).
Bonus: How to make tapioca pearls.
If you want to make homemade tapioca pearls, just mix 2 parts tapioca starch with 1 part boiling water. Mix together until you achieve a dough-like consistency. Form the dough into small pearls, then boil over medium-high heat. When the boba reaches your desired consistency, remove them from the pan and add to the tea.
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