Chai Bubble Tea

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Chai bubble tea is sweet, creamy, and full of fragrant spiced flavor. Get the secrets to making this 6-ingredient drink and perfect tapioca pearls at home in 15 minutes.

Chai Bubble Tea in clear glass.

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Homemade Chai Bubble Tea

Full of fragrant spices, chai is a drink from India that’s made by steeping black tea with a medley of spices, including cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, star anise, and black pepper. Every recipe usually has its own blend and ratio of spices to get the perfect balance.

This recipe combines an iced chai latte with tapioca pearls to make a rich, decadent bubble tea.

RELATED: Brown Sugar Bubble Tea

Recipe Highlights

  • This chai bubble tea is made from 6 ingredients using chai tea bags, milk, brown sugar, tapioca balls, water, and ice.
  • Since it is made with black tea, chai bubble tea contains caffeine.
  • Store-bought tapioca goes from hard to chewy and bouncy in just a few minutes when cooked in boiling water.
  • This recipe makes a 16 ounces (2 cups) drink, so make sure to have a cup that can fit it.

RELATED: Matcha Bubble Tea

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients for Chai Bubble Tea measured in cups and bowls.
  • Chai
    Chai tea bags are used for a quick cleanup but you can also make the spiced tea from scratch.
  • Tapioca balls
    Store-bought tapioca balls are the easiest way to make bubble tea at home and they’re ready in minutes.
  • Dark brown sugar
    This recipe uses dark brown sugar but any sugar you’d like works.
  • Milk
    Whole milk makes the drink creamier, but plant-based varieties like oat and almond milks can also be used.
  • Water
    Use filtered water for a better tasting drink.
  • Ice
    Make ice using filtered water if possible.
My Tapioca Balls Pick

Photo Credit: amazon.com

The tapioca balls I use to make bubble tea at home.
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Step-by-Step Instructions

First two steps to make Chai Bubble Tea.

For full ingredients and detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Steep tea bags in hot water.
    Strain out tea, stir in brown sugar, and let cool.
  2. Cook tapioca balls in brown sugar and water.
    Boil brown sugar in water, then add tapioca balls.
Final four steps to make Chai Bubble Tea.
  1. Put tapioca balls and brown sugar syrup into a cup.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Pour in chai.
  4. Top with milk.
    Serve immediately. Stir before drinking and use an extra wide straw.

RELATED: Jasmine Bubble Tea

How to Drink Bubble Tea

Enjoy bubble tea with a wide straw so you can get both the tea and tapioca pearls at the same tip. The boba should be chewed and not swallowed whole.

Recipe Notes

Warm tapioca balls are perfectly soft and chewy.

Serve tapioca balls while they’re still warm, but not hot enough to burn your mouth. The boba will have the best bouncy consistency.

Make boba right before the drink.

Try not to make the tapioca pearls in advance since they’ll start to harden as they cool.

A homemade brown sugar syrup adds flavor and sweetness.

The boba is cooked in brown sugar and water to make a syrup that sweetens both the tapioca balls and the tea.

RELATED: 17 Best Bubble Tea Recipes

Tea Sommelier’s Tips

  • The chai can be steeped ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. Add the milk and tapioca balls right before serving.
  • To make the drink even more decadent, swap the milk for a cold foam.
  • Always use a wide straw to drink bubble tea. This allows you to get a few tapioca balls with each sip.
  • Line the inside of the cup with brown sugar syrup for a pretty presentation.
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon on top as a finishing touch.

Questions You May Have

What does chai taste like?

Because it’s made with a fragrant mix of spices, chai has a deep earthy flavor. It’s typically made with milk, which gives the tea a rich, creamy texture.

How do I make chai at home?

The best chai is one that’s made from scratch. You can make it by brewing black tea with spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and ginger.

How long does it take to cook boba?

For perfectly soft and chewy tapioca pearls, cook the boba for 8-10 minutes.

Is there a difference between boba tea and bubble tea?

No! Boba and bubble tea are both names for the same drink. You’re likely to hear it referred to as boba on the West Coast and bubble tea on the East Coast.

Chai Bubble Tea in clear cup with wide straw.
5 from 4 votes

Chai Bubble Tea

By: Jee Choe
This sweet, creamy, and fragrant chai bubble tea is ready in 15 minutes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 1 serving (16 ounces)

Ingredients 

Iced Chai

  • 3 chai tea bags
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup ice
  • cup milk

Tapioca Balls

  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup tapioca balls

Instructions 

MAKE TEA

  • Steep chai tea bags in hot water for 5 minutes.
    Set the temperature to 175°F if you're using an electric kettle with a temperature setting. Use filtered water if possible.
  • Remove and discard tea bags. Stir in sugar.
    Stir until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.

COOK TAPIOCA BALLS

  • Boil ¾ cup of water in a saucepan and add tapioca balls.
    Boil water in a saucepan on the stovetop then add tapioca balls. Cook on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Tapioca balls should be soft all the way through.
    Turn off heat and cool slightly, until tapioca balls are quite warm, but aren't too hot to eat.
    (Follow directions on your tapioca ball packaging if you're using a different brand than the one I’m using.)
  • Drain tapioca balls.

ASSEMBLE DRINK

  • Put warm tapioca balls into a cup. Add ice, cooled down tea, and milk.
    Serve immediately and stir before drinking. Use an extra wide straw to drink.

Notes

  • Chai tea bags are used for a quick cleanup, but you can also make the spiced tea from scratch.
  • The boba is cooked in brown sugar and water to make a syrup that sweetens both the tapioca balls and the tea. You can use another sugar if you’d like
  • Whole milk makes the drink creamier, but plant-based varieties like oat and almond milks also work.
  • Use filtered water for a better tasting drink. Make ice using filtered water if possible.
  • Serve tapioca balls while they’re still warm, but not hot enough to burn your mouth. The boba will have the best bouncy consistency.
  • Try not to make the tapioca pearls in advance since they’ll start to harden as they cool.
  • The chai can be steeped ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. Add the milk and tapioca balls right before serving.
  • Always use a wide straw to drink bubble tea. This allows you to get a few tapioca balls with each sip.

Nutrition

Calories: 322Carbohydrates: 73gProtein: 3gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 71mgPotassium: 174mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 40gVitamin A: 132IUCalcium: 155mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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