Boba Tea: Bubble Tea Recipe

Boba Tea. Bubble Tea

What is bubble tea?

Bubble tea, also known as Boba tea or pearl milk tea, is a sweet Asian drink that consists of tea, milk, sugar, and chewy tapioca balls that resemble bubbles, hence the name “bubble tea.” These unique pearls provide a fun textural experience as you sip your tea through an oversized straw.

How to make bubble tea?

Making basic bubble tea at home is easy. Brew black, green, oolong or another favorite tea. Mix with milk, plant-based milk, or fruit juice. Sweeten with sugar, honey, or syrup to taste. Then add pre-made boba pearls, which can be found at many grocery stores. For fully homemade boba, boil tapioca starch into chewy spheres. Layer boba pearls, ice and your milk tea mixture in a cup and enjoy!


  • 2 cups brewed black tea, chilled (or 2 tea bags steeped in 2 cups hot water, then chilled)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or sugar (adjust to taste preference)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1⁄4 cup black tapioca pearls
  • Ice cubes

Bubble Tea Pearls:

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls and boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pearls are translucent.
  2. Drain pearls and soak them in simple syrup (equal parts sugar and hot water stirred to dissolve sugar) for at least 30 minutes to enhance their flavor.

To Make the Bubble Tea:

  1. In a tall glass, combine chilled black tea, honey/sugar, milk and tapioca pearls. Stir to mix.
  2. Add ice cubes to fill the glass. Adjust sweetness if needed. Top with more pearls, if desired.
  3. Insert a large bubble tea straw and enjoy! Play around with adding fruit juices or fruit purees to create different flavor combinations. Popular add-ins also include coconut jelly, grass jelly, or pudding.

What are the bubbles/pearls in bubble tea?

The “bubbles” are tapioca pearls made from tapioca starch extracted from the cassava root. Tapioca starch is boiled until it forms gelatinous spheres that resemble tiny pearls. These starchy tapioca pearls have a chewy, gummy texture when soaked and hydrated. The pearls provide a fun textural contrast as you sip your fruity, creamy or milk tea.

How to boil tapioca pearls for bubble tea?

To prepare homemade tapioca pearls, combine tapioca starch with water and brown sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir until the mixture forms sticky spheres. Pour spheres into cold water, then strain and transfer boba to a simple syrup to prevent sticking. Soak the pearls for at least 4 hours before adding them to your freshly brewed bubble tea.

How to cook boba for bubble tea?

Pre-made boba pearls require no stove-top cooking. Simply soak dried boba per package instructions until translucent and chewy, for at least a couple of hours. To cook boba yourself, whisk tapioca starch with brown sugar in boiling water. Reduce heat, stirring constantly as spheres form. Rinse the cooked pearls in cold water before soaking for 4+ hours in sweet syrup. Drain the soaked boba before mixing it into your favorite bubble tea.

Does bubble tea have caffeine?

Most bubble teas contain some amount of caffeine since they are made with brewed black, green or oolong tea. Milk tea versions tend to have less caffeine compared to fruit- or tea-based options. Customize the caffeination level by choosing tea type and quantity carefully based on personal preference and caffeine sensitivity. Herbal teas and coffee substitutes can also provide comforting warmth without caffeine.

Is bubble tea healthy?

In moderation, bubble tea can be a tasty, healthy treat. The nutrition depends greatly on customization though. Milk- and fruit-based versions tend to provide more nutrients than their sugary counterparts. Asking for less sugar syrup helps reduce empty calories. And opting for non-dairy milks adds vitamins without unhealthy fats. Homemade boba allows total control over quality and ingredients. Overall, occasional organic bubble tea can fit into a balanced diet.

What is taro bubble tea?

Taro bubble tea is a sweet, creamy and vibrant purple-colored drink made from tropical taro root powder, milk, sugar and tapioca pearls. This nutty, earthy, and nutritious tuber is common in Taiwanese and Chinese cuisines. For the bubble tea flavor, taro pairs perfectly with fresh milk, sweet honey and chewy boba balls to create the classic taro milk tea experience. Customize further with toppings like red beans, grass jelly, or whipped cream.

Is bubble tea gluten free?

Most bubble tea is naturally gluten-free, with a few exceptions. Milk teas made with brewed tea leaves, milk, sugar and tapioca pearls contain no gluten. Watch for added flavorings or toppings, though, as items like cookies or certain gelling agents can contain gluten. Requesting no toppings is an easy way to order gluten-free bubble tea. And carefully checking ingredients helps identify celiac-safe options while out and about.

How many calories in bubble tea?

Calorie counts can vary hugely based on personal preferences and order customization. A 20-ounce strawberry fruit bubble tea made with non-fat milk contains around 250 calories. Choosing classic milk tea with tapioca pearls instead might deliver 350+ calories. Opting for less sugar syrup and skipping sugary jelly toppings helps decrease the number of empty calories. Overall calories differ drastically between orders, so bubble tea can range from a sensible light treat to an indulgent dessert.

Is bubble tea vegan?

Luckily, delicious vegan bubble teas abound with plant-powered customizations! Replace regular dairy milk with non-dairy alternatives like soy, coconut, oat or almond milk. Then highlight fruity flavors using mango, lychee, passionfruit, strawberry or pineapple juice blended with ice, sweetener and boba pearls. Avoid honey and gelatin-based toppings containing animal products. Checking ingredient lists helps identify hidden animal ingredients for strict vegans.

Is bubble tea bad for you?

In moderation, bubble tea likely poses little harm to the health of most people. However, excess sugar, calories, and artificial additives present problems, especially with frequent overconsumption. Issues like obesity, diabetes, and even cancer are minor risks. Stick to an 8- to 12-ounce portion once or twice per week maximum, choose reduced-sugar options, and avoid artificial syrups or powders for better nutrition from occasional bubble tea treats.

Where does bubble tea come from?

Bubble tea originated in the bustling night markets of 1980s Taiwan. Fruit, herbal tea and coffee stalls run by ingenious entrepreneurs experimented blending teas with milk, fruit flavors, sweetened creamers and an array of toppings to attract customers. One breakthrough fusion – iced black tea with chewy tapioca balls accompanied by a fat straw, took off like wildfire. This new “boba milk tea” hit spread as Taiwanese immigrants brought the novel concept abroad throughout Asia and the world.