How to Make Bubble Tea (Boba Tea) with Brown Sugar

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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.

Milk tea with tapioca balls in a tall glass with black straw.

About This Recipe

  • Bubble tea is a cold drink made with tea, milk, sugar, ice, and chewy tapioca balls — it’s basically an iced milk tea with tapioca balls.
  • It originated in Taiwan in the 1980s.
  • This recipe is made with warm tapioca balls, the secret to the best bubble tea!
  • It’s delicious and tastes even better than the ones sold in bubble tea shops.
  • Bubble tea is also called boba, boba tea, boba milk tea, and bubble milk tea.

Try making more popular cafe drinks at home like Matcha Bubble Tea, Thai Iced Tea, and Iced Matcha Latte.

What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • Warm tapioca balls
    Don’t cool down the tapioca balls completely — put it into the drink while they’re 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!
  • Made with 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.
  • Topped with a decadent cream froth
    A lightly whipped cream that elevates this drink from a boring bubble tea.
  • Dark brown sugar
    Using dark brown sugar gives boba tea a deeper, more complex flavor and caramel notes you won’t find in regular white sugar.
Bubble tea ingredients in individual plates and containers.

Ingredient Notes

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.
Layered bubble tea with dark tapioca balls and black tea on the bottom and cream froth on top.

How to Make Bubble Tea

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

Here’s a quick overview of the steps to make this drink. For full ingredients and instructions, scroll to the bottom.

1. Make tea

Bring water to a boil on the stovetop or use an electric kettle with a temperature setting.

Steep tea in filtered water. Strain tea and let cool.

Tea Sommelier’s Tip: Make bubble tea using oolong tea — it’s delicious!

2. Make brown sugar simple syrup

Stir together hot water and dark brown sugar until sugar dissolves.

3. Make tapioca balls

In a pot, boil water and add tapioca balls.

Tapioca balls will start to float to the surface within a couple of minutes. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat. Stir every once in a while so that the tapioca balls 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 and you should be left with plump boba.

RELATED: Iced Brown Sugar Tea Latte

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.

Cool slightly. You want the tapioca balls to be warm when adding to the drink.

4. Make cream froth

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

5. Assemble drink

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

Spoon 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.

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.

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

RELATED: Easy Iced Milk Tea

Bubble Tea cheat sheet

Join my free email list to get this bubble tea cheat sheet!

Notes & Tips

  • Bubble tea can be made with all kinds of tea. All you need to do is add tapioca balls to a drink and it instantly becomes boba tea! Try making it with jasmine green tea, Thai tea, or matcha.
  • If you prefer weaker tea, use 2 teaspoons of tea per serving.
  • Don’t want to use dark brown sugar? Make simple syrup using any kind of sweetener like honey, date syrup, or coconut sugar. Stir together equal part hot water and sweetener to make a quick simple syrup.
  • If you don’t want the trouble of making the cream froth, just add 4 tablespoons of half & half to each serving instead. 

Make-Ahead & Storage Tips

  • The tea, brown sugar simple syrup, and cream froth can all be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. The tea keeps for 3-4 days, the syrup for 1-2 weeks, and cream froth for up to 3 days.
  • Do not make tapioca balls more than 1-2 hours ahead of time. After 4 hours, they’ll start to harden.

Questions You May Have

Is there caffeine in this drink?

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

Can I make a caffeine-free bubble tea?

To make it caffeine-free, use herbal tea like chamomile, rooibos, or butterfly pea flower.

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. 

How can I adjust the sweetness?

To adjust the amount of sugar that goes into the drink, strain out the tapioca balls from the brown sugar simple syrup when assembling the drink. Add the simple syrup after the drink has been made to see how sweet you want it.

More Delicious Tea Recipes

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Decadent Bubble Tea (Boba Tea) with Brown Sugar

Author: Jee Choe
Decadent, delicious bubble tea drink made with tapioca balls, dark brown sugar, and milk tea.
4.6 from 125 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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16 thoughts on “How to Make Bubble Tea (Boba Tea) with Brown Sugar”

  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.

  2. Hi, I want to try this recipe and was wondering if Bascom’s Imported Small Pearl Tapioca would work the same way. I would think they are, but maybe not since there’s different kinds of tapioca. Do you think it would be fine for this recipe?


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