How to Make the Best Bubble Tea (Boba Tea)

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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.

Homemade 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.
  • This recipe is made with warm tapioca balls, the secret to the best bubble tea!
  • It’s delicious and tastes just like the ones made in bubble tea shops.
  • Bubble tea is basically milk tea with tapioca balls.
  • Made with real tea, not pre-made powders.
  • It’s decadent with a creamy topping.

Bubble tea goes by a few names. It’s also known as:

  • Boba tea
  • Boba
  • Boba milk tea
  • Bubble milk tea
  • Pearl milk tea

RELATED: Matcha Bubble Tea

3 tips to Making the Best Bubble Tea 

  1. Warm tapioca balls
    Don’t cool down the tapioca balls — put it into the drink while it’s still warm. They’ll be soft with a nice little chew in the center. Try it and you’ll be amazed at how good it is!
  2. Real tea
    I don’t use tea powders that are loaded with chemicals and sugar. Instead I use real tea and brew it so the tea taste really comes through.
  3. Cream froth
    A lightly whipped cream that elevates this drink from a boring bubble tea.

bubble tea ingredients

My Tapioca BallS Pick:

Tapioca Pearls

Photo Credit:

Plump with just a bit of a chew! This is the brand I use to make bubble tea.

How to Make bubble tea at home

  1. Make tea
  2. Make brown sugar simple syrup
  3. Make tapioca balls
  4. Make cream froth
  5. Assemble drink


Bring 2 3/4 cups of water to a boil on the stovetop or use an electric kettle with a temperature setting, setting the water to 208°F.

The best tasting tea is made with the best tasting water so use filtered water if possible.

Steep black tea in 2 1/2 cups of hot water for 5 minutes. (Save 1/4 cup hot water for the brown sugar simple syrup.) Strain tea leaves and let cool.

Tea Sommelier’s Tip: Any strong black tea will work great for this recipe. English breakfast tea, which is meant to be made with milk and sugar is a fantastic option.


Take the 1/4 cup hot water you have left over and stir in 1/4 cup dark brown sugar until sugar dissolves. (If you don’t have dark brown sugar, regular brown sugar works too.) Set aside.


Boil water and add tapioca balls.

The tapioca balls will start to float to the surface in a couple of minutes. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir every once in a while so that the boba don’t stick together.

If your tapioca balls are different from the brand I’m using, follow the directions on the packaging.

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

Stir in brown sugar simple syrup to the tapioca balls. The dark brown simple syrup will sweeten both the bubble tea and the tapioca balls.

Let cool slightly. You want the boba to still be warm when adding to the drink.


Lightly whip heavy cream and sugar using a handheld milk frother and whip for 10 seconds.

Don’t overwhip! The cream should just slightly thicken and be pourable.


Start assembling the drink by spooning in tapioca balls in brown simple syrup. 

This should go without saying, but please don’t use hot tapioca balls so that you don’t burn yourself.

I’m using a 17 oz. cup which is a little bigger than a Starbucks grande (16 oz.).

Add ice, then pour in the cooled down black tea. Leave a little room for the cream froth.

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

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

Bubble Tea cheat sheet

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Bubble Tea Tips

  • The tea and the brown sugar syrup can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. The tea keeps for 3-4 days and the syrup for 1-2 weeks.
  • I used 1 tablespoon 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.
  • If you don’t want the trouble of making the cream froth, just add 4 tablespoons of half & half to each serving instead. 

Questions You May Have

Is there caffeine in this drink?

Yes! There’s caffeine in black tea so there’s caffeine in this drink.

I don’t have loose tea, can I use tea bags?

Instead of 2 tablespoons of loose black tea you can use 3 tea sachets or 6 tea bags.

What are tapioca balls?

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

How long are tapioca balls good for?

Working with tapioca balls can be a little tricky since they’re only good for about 4 hours after making them; after that they’ll harden and get rubbery which won’t be fun to eat.

How big is a serving for this recipe?

Each serving is 17 oz., which is a little bigger than a Starbucks grande (16 oz).

How do I drink this?

To drink bubble tea, you need a fat straw that’s big enough to suck up the tapioca balls while drinking the tea. 


Want to save this bubble tea recipe for later? Pin it to your Pinterest board!

Homemade Bubble Tea (Boba Tea)

Author: Jee Choe
Decadent, delicious bubble tea drink made with tapioca balls, dark brown sugar, and milk tea.
4.6 from 121 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Steep Time 5 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Drinks
Yield2 servings


Black tea

Dark brown Simple Syrup

Tapioca Balls

Cream Froth



  • Boil water.
    Boil 2 3/4 cup of water. If using an electric kettle with a temperature setting, set the water to 208°F. Use filtered water if possible.
  • Steep tea in hot water for 5 minutes.
    Combine tea and 2.5 cups hot water and steep. (We're saving the leftover 1/4 cup of hot water for the brown sugar simple syrup.)
  • Strain tea leaves and let tea cool.
    Using a teapot with an infuser makes straining the tea leaves super easy.


  • Stir together hot water and dark brown sugar until sugar dissolves.
    Take the remaining 1/4 cup hot water and stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar.


  • Boil water and add tapioca balls.
    Boil 4 cups of water on the stovetop then add tapioca balls. In a couple of minutes, they'll start floating to the surface. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. (Follow directions on your tapioca ball packaging if you're using a different brand than the one I'm using.)
  • Strain tapioca balls.
  • Combine tapioca balls and brown sugar simple syrup.
    Stir in dark brown simple syrup into the pot with the strained boba. Let cool slightly.


  • Lightly whip heavy cream and sugar.
    Cream froth is a lightly whipped heavy cream. Use a handheld milk frother and whip for 10 seconds. Cream should thicken slightly and should be pourable.


  • Divide each component into two cups.
    Spoon in boba in brown sugar simple syrup, add ice, then black tea, and top with cream froth. Stir together before drinking.


  • Make sure your tapioca balls are still warm when you assemble the drink. They’ll be nice and soft with a little chew.
  • Instead of loose tea, you can use 3 tea sachets or 6 tea bags.
  • If you want less tea, use 4 teaspoons of tea which is 2 tea sachets or 4 tea bags.
  • Use an extra wide straw to drink your bubble tea.


Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 60mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 437IU | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword Boba tea
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12 thoughts on “How to Make the Best Bubble Tea (Boba Tea)”

  1. 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.


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