How to Make the Best Bubble Tea (Boba Tea)

Yes, bubble tea can be made at home! A delicious boba tea recipe made with black tea, chewy tapioca balls, and topped with a decadent cream froth.


Bubble Tea

Bubble tea is an iced drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It’s made with tea, milk, sugar, and chewy tapioca balls. To drink bubble tea, you need a fat straw that’s big enough to suck up the tapioca balls while drinking the tea. 

Does this bubble tea recipe taste like the real thing? YES. IT’S FREAKING DELICIOUS!

What is Boba Tea?

Bubble tea goes by a few names and boba tea is one of them. It’s also known as just boba, boba milk tea, bubble milk tea, or pearl milk tea. 

What is Boba?

The tapioca pearls/balls at the bottom of the drink are called boba. It’s made from tapioca starch taken from the cassava root.

Tapioca Balls in Bubble Tea

Working with tapioca balls can be a little tricky since they need to be eaten within a couple of hours of making them. They only last up to 4 hours. 

Raw tapioca balls can take up to an hour to make but there are partially-cooked pearls that take about 20-30 minutes. I used the partially-cooked pearls for this recipe.

RELATED: Matcha Bubble Tea

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What I Used to Make This Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea Tips

  • The tea and the brown sugar syrup can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. The tea for 3-4 days and syrup for a 3-4 weeks.
  • I used 3 teaspoons of tea for each serving since it’s in a very large cup. If you prefer a weaker tea, use 2 teaspoons of tea per serving instead.
  • You can replace dark brown sugar with regular brown sugar.
  • Instead of 6 teaspoons of loose tea, you can use 3 tea sachets or 6 tea bags. 
  • If you don’t want the trouble of making the cream froth, just add 3-4 tablespoons of half & half instead. (You don’t need to whip the half & half — it doesn’t whip anyway.)
  • The boba should have a soft outer layer and be chewy in the center.
  • You can replace black tea with any type of tea you like. I love it with hojicha.

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How to Make Bubble Tea at Home

There are three components to this bubble tea.

  • Boba in a dark brown simple syrup to sweeten the tea and tapioca balls.
  • Black tea brewed strong.
  • Cream froth to make my tea a milky tea.

Steep tea.

Brew a strong pot of black tea using 4 teaspoons of tea in 2.5 cups of water. You can also use tea sachets or tea bags instead of loose tea. I use my electric kettle and set the water temperature to 205°F.

Steep for 5 minutes then discard tea leaves. Set aside to cool.

Make brown simple syrup.

In a small glass, make the dark brown simple syrup.

Boil more water than needed for tea and use 4 tablespoons to make the dark brown simple syrup. Just make sure you stir completely to dissolve all the dark brown sugar. Set aside.

Just a note here: if you don’t have dark brown sugar, light brown sugar is good too. 

RELATED: How to Make the Best Iced Chai Latte

Make tapioca balls.

With the tapioca balls, all you have to do is boil them in water.

I’m using these tapioca balls and this is what worked best for this brand. If you’re using another brand, just follow the directions on the packaging.

Once water comes to boil in a pot, put the tapioca balls in and wait until they start to float to the surface which should take a couple of minutes. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.

Stir every once in a while so that the boba don’t stick together.

Drain the water out and you should be left with plump boba.

Take the dark brown simple syrup and pour it into the pot with the boba.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

The dark brown simple syrup will sweeten the bubble tea and the tapioca balls.

Whip heavy cream and sugar.

Whip lightly the cream and sugar to make the cream froth. I used my trusty handheld milk frother and whipped for just 10 seconds.

I’m looking for a slightly thickened cream consistency. Don’t overwhip until you get soft peaks. If you do, just stir in a little more heavy cream.

RELATED: The Best Homemade Thai Iced Tea

Time to assemble!

First goes the boba and the dark brown simple syrup into a cup.

Next, add ice.

Pour in the cooled down black tea. Leave a little room at the top for the cream froth.

RELATED: Perfect Iced Milk Tea

Top off the drink with the cream froth. Watch the cream make its way down the glass. So pretty!

Use an extra wide straw to drink. Stir before drinking so you’re tasting all the components together.

The Best Homemade Bubble Tea

The Best Homemade Bubble Tea

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Decadent, delicious bubble tea drink made with tapioca balls, dark brown sugar, and milk tea.


Milk tea

Dark brown Simple Syrup

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Tapioca Balls

Cream Froth

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Ice


  1. MAKE TEA. Steep tea in hot water for 5 minutes. Remove tea leaves. Set aside to cool.
  2. MAKE DARK BROWN SIMPLE SYRUP. Combine hot water and dark brown sugar in a glass and stir until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  3. MAKE TAPIOCA BALLS. Boil water and add in tapioca balls and wait for balls to float on surface of the water. Once tapioca balls start to float, cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain out water and pour in dark brown simple syrup and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. MAKE CREAM FROTH. Lightly whip heavy cream and sugar until slightly thickened. Should take no more than 10 seconds using a handheld mil frother.
  5. ASSEMBLE DRINK. Divide each component into two cups. Layer the bottom of cup with tapioca balls and dark brown simple syrup. Add ice then pour in the tea. Top with cream froth.
  6. Stir together before drinking.


Instead of loose tea, you can use 3 tea sachets or 6 tea bags. If you want less tea (less caffeine), use 4 teaspoons of tea which is 2 tea sachets or 4 tea bags.

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  • Diane Carr
    4 months ago

    I had bubble tea for the first time with you. I can’t even remember how many years ago that was…..
    Your recipe sounds delicious.

  • Syeda Nida Ejaz
    2 weeks ago

    That’s really so cool…. but from where do u get those boba pearls…. ?
    Kindly do reply.

    • Oh, How Civilized
      4 days ago

      Hi Syeda, I have the links in the post to get the boba pearls from Amazon.

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