How to Make Bubble Tea at Home

This customizable bubble tea recipe tastes just as good as the kind sold at your local cafe.

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.

Here’s why you should be drinking more tea.

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.

Psst! Here are more tasty items to buy in the ethnic food aisle.

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.

If you love tapioca, try this old-fashioned recipe.

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.

We bet you haven’t made these tasty tea recipes yet. 

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!

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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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.