Yes, bubble tea can be made at home! A decadent boba tea recipe made with black tea, chewy tapioca balls, and topped with a decadent cream froth.
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.
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What I Used to Make This Bubble Tea
- Black tea
- Tapioca pearls
The package says it’s ready in 5 minutes but that’s a LIE.
- Dark brown sugar and regular sugar
- Heavy cream
I used these ice cube trays.
- Large (18 oz) glass cups
- Extra wide bubble tea straws
I got a couple of different straws and this one is perfect for bubble tea.
- Handheld milk frother
This brand I got on Amazon has excellent customer service.
- Electric kettle
I use mine almost every day to brew tea to the right temperature.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.