Hong Kong Bubble Tea (Hong Kong Boba Milk Tea)

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A super caffeinated bubble tea made with black tea, sweetened condensed milk, and perfectly chewy boba. It’s easy to make this rich and creamy drink at home in a few minutes.

Hong Kong Milk Tea (Hong Kong Bubble Tea) in a clear glass with a wide straw.

What Is Hong Kong Bubble Tea?

Hong Kong bubble tea is an iced milk tea made with black tea, tapioca balls, and sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk instead of regular milk.

The boba, or the tapioca balls in the drink are makes this beverage a bubble tea. Take out the boba and it’s a Hong Kong-style milk tea.

Hong Kong-style milk tea is made very strong so it’s almost as caffeinated as a cup of coffee. It’s a refreshing drink that’s sweet and creamy.

RELATED: 10+ Easy Bubble Tea Recipes

Recipe Highlights

  • A Hong Kong-style milk tea that’s made with strongly brewed black tea, store-bought tapioca balls, and sweetened condensed milk.
  • What makes this bubble tea recipe different than most sold at bubble tea shops is that it’s made with real brewed tea instead of powdered tea which results in a better tasting drink.
  • Hong Kong-style milk tea is usually made on the stovetop, heating the sweetened condensed milk with the tea, but this is a quicker, easier version that’s prepared in a teapot.
  • Store-bought tapioca balls is the easiest way to make boba at home. This recipe cooks the boba (tapioca balls) in a brown sugar syrup so it’s even more delicious.
  • My trick to making the best bubble tea is to serve the boba while it’s still quite warm, which gives it the best soft and chewy texture.

RELATED: Brown Sugar Bubble Tea

Ingredient Notes

Hong Kong Bubble Tea ingredients measured in cups and labeled on a table.
  • Black tea
    Any black tea will work and I recommend using tea bags since the clean up is easier and you don’t need a high quality tea for this recipe.
  • Tapioca balls
    Dried, store-bought tapioca balls are an easy way to make bubble tea at home. Just cook them in water and they’ll plump and soften.
  • Brown sugar
    The caramel notes of brown sugar pairs nicely with bold black teas, but use white granulated sugar if that’s what you have.
  • Sweetened condensed milk
    A concentrated dairy milk with sugar, it is much creamier and sweeter than milk and sugar on their own. This is what makes the drink Hong Kong-style rather than regular bubble tea.
  • Water
    Better tasting tea comes from using filtered water when possible.
  • Ice
    Use filtered water to make ice if you can.
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 Hong Kong Bubble Tea in photos.

For full ingredients and instructions, scroll down to see the recipe.

  1. Steep tea in hot water.
    Discard tea bags.
  2. Stir in sweetened condensed milk.
    Set aside to cool.
Hong Kong Bubble Tea final instructional steps in photos.
  1. Cook tapioca balls in brown sugar and water.
    Boil water and brown sugar together then add tapioca balls.
  2. Put tapioca balls and brown sugar syrup into a glass.
  3. Add ice.
  4. Pour in cooled sweetened tea.
    Serve immediately. Stir before drinking and use an extra wide straw.

RELATED: Taro Bubble Tea (Taro Boba Milk Tea)

Recipe Notes

Warm tapioca balls means they’ll be soft and perfectly chewy.
Tapioca balls have the perfect texture when they are still quite warm, almost hot. Just make sure they’re not too hot, since they can burn your mouth.

Use tea bags.
The sweetened condensed milk will overpower any delicate teas so it’s a waste to use high quality loose tea to make this drink. Go with tea bags which will be easier to use and clean up.

Adjust tea bags as needed.
Hong Kong-style milk tea is made strong with more black tea than other milk teas so use 1 less tea bag if you don’t want it to be so caffeinated.

Cook the tapioca balls in brown sugar and water.
This recipe cooks the boba in a brown sugar syrup which will make the drink extra delicious. The brown sugar sweetens the drink and the boba.

Finished Hong Kong Milk Tea (Hong Kong Bubble Tea) in a clear glass with boba at the bottom and ice on top.

Expert Tips

  • Since the tea needs to be cooled, you can make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. It’ll keep for up to 4 days. Don’t add the sweetened condensed milk to the tea until you’re ready to make the drink.
  • Cook the tapioca balls right before you’re ready to assemble the drink since they’ll start to harden after about 3-4 hours. Tapioca balls can’t be stored or made ahead of time.
  • This recipe makes 16 ounces (2 cups), so make sure to have a large enough glass.
  • Bubble teas are served with a wide straw, that’s so you can get tapioca balls with each sip of the tea.

RELATED: Thai Bubble Tea

Questions You May Have

Does this drink contain caffeine?

Yes, since this is made with black tea, which naturally contains caffeine.

What’s the best way to drink bubble tea?

Bubble teas are served with an extra wide straw so you’ll get a few boba with each sip of tea. Tapioca balls are meant to be chewed, not swallowed whole.

What is Hong Kong bubble tea?

What makes a bubble tea Hong Kong style is that it’s a boba drink made with strongly brewed black tea and sweetened condensed milk.

A ready to drink Hong Kong Milk Tea (Hong Kong Bubble Tea) in a tall, clear glass.

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Hong Kong Bubble Tea (Hong Kong Boba Milk Tea)

Author: Jee Choe
A super caffeinated bubble tea made with black tea, sweetened condensed milk, and perfectly chewy boba.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving (16 ounces)

INGREDIENTS
 

Hong Kong Milk Tea

Tapioca Balls

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

INSTRUCTIONS
 

MAKE TEA

  • Steep tea bags in 1 cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
    Set the temperature to 195°F if you're using an electric kettle with a temperature setting. Use filtered water if possible.
  • Discard tea bags and stir in sweetened condensed milk.
    Stir the sweetened condensed milk until it dissolves into the tea. Set aside to cool.

COOK TAPIOCA BALLS

  • Boil ¾ cup of water and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add tapioca balls.
    Combine water and brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once you see big bubbles (2-4 minutes), add tapioca balls. Keep boiling for 8 more minutes on medium-high heat. Cool slightly, until tapioca balls aren't too hot to eat. They should still be pretty warm.

ASSEMBLE DRINK

  • Put warm tapioca balls in brown sugar syrup into a cup. 
Add ice, then the cooled down sweetened tea.
    Serve immediately and stir before drinking. Use an extra wide straw to drink.

NOTES

  • Tapioca balls have the perfect texture when they are still quite warm, almost hot. Just make sure they’re not too hot, since they can burn your mouth.
  • The sweetened condensed milk will overpower any delicate teas so it’s a waste to use high quality loose tea to make this drink. Go with tea bags which will be easier to use and clean up. 
  • Hong Kong-style milk tea is made strong with more black tea than other milk teas so use 1 less tea bag if you don’t want it to be so caffeinated.
  • This recipe cooks the boba in a brown sugar syrup which will make the drink extra delicious. The brown sugar sweetens the drink and the boba.
  • Since the tea needs to be cooled, you can make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. It’ll keep for up to 4 days. Don’t add the sweetened condensed milk to the tea until you’re ready to make the drink.
  • Cook the tapioca balls right before you’re ready to assemble the drink since they’ll start to harden after about 3-4 hours. Tapioca balls can’t be stored or made ahead of time.
  • This recipe makes 16 ounces (2 cups), so make sure to have a large enough glass.
  • Bubble teas are served with a wide straw, that’s so you can get tapioca balls with each sip of the tea.

NUTRITION

Calories: 356 | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 77mg | Potassium: 195mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 107IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 1mg
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