Thai Bubble Tea (Thai Iced Tea with Boba)

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Make delicious and refreshing Thai bubble tea at home! Get tips and tricks to make it perfect each and every time.

Thai bubble tea in a clear glass with ice and an extra wide straw.

Easy Thai Bubble Tea

Thai iced tea with boba (also called Thai milk tea and Thai bubble tea) is a refreshing and sweet drink that adds chewy tapioca balls to a classic Thai iced tea.

It’s surprisingly easy to make delicious bubble tea at home with just a few key ingredients, like store-bought tapioca balls.

RELATED: Easy & Delicious Bubble Tea Recipes

Recipe Highlights

  • Boba are the chewy tapioca balls that make the “bubbles” in bubble tea. Store-bought boba is a great shortcut since it only needs to be boiled in water for a few minutes to get nice and chewy.
  • My secret to making delicious bubble tea is by making the drink with warm tapioca balls. Warm tapioca balls make a big difference.
  • To recreate the same Thai iced tea served at restaurants, a Thai iced tea mix is used. It’s the only way to get that authentic, bright orange color.

RELATED: Brown Sugar Bubble Tea

What is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea is an iced milk tea with tapioca balls created in Taiwan in the 1980s. Bubble tea is also called milk tea, boba tea, or just simply boba.

It’s usually made with tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca balls. While any kind of tea can be used to make bubble tea, black tea is the most popular.

The drink is served with a wide straw that’s big enough for the tapioca balls to fit through. The tapioca balls are meant to be chewed, not swallowed whole.

RELATED: Taro Bubble Tea

Ingredient Notes

Thai bubble tea ingredients in measuring cups on a table with labels.
  • Thai tea mix
    A mix of black tea and spices, it’s what gives this drink the distinctive Thai iced tea flavoring and color.
  • Black tea
    Even though there’s black tea in the Thai tea mix, I like to boost the tea flavor by adding black tea. Use loose tea, tea sachets, or tea bags.
  • Tapioca balls
    These are sold dried and to plump them up, they just need to be cooked in hot water.
  • Brown sugar
    Any sugar can be used, but I prefer brown sugar in drinks with black tea.
  • Evaporated milk
    A concentrated dairy milk with about 60% of the water removed and left unsweetened. Don’t replace evaporated milk with regular milk since it won’t taste quite the same.
  • Sweetened condensed milk
    This is dairy milk with most of the water removed and sugar added, so it is creamier and sweeter than milk and sugar alone.
  • Water
    Water is used to make the tea and to boil the boba. Use filtered water if possible, to make tea.
  • Ice
    If you can, make ice with filtered water.
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

Thai Bubble Tea instructions, the first 2 steps.

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

  1. Steep Thai tea mix and black tea in hot water.
    Strain tea leaves. Stir in brown sugar. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook tapioca balls.
    Boil tapioca balls in water on the stovetop.
Thai Bubble Tea instructions, steps 3-6.
  1. Stir to combine sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk.
  2. Put tapioca balls into a glass then add ice.
  3. Pour in tea.
  4. Top with milk mixture.
    Serve immediately. Stir before drinking. Use a wide straw to drink. 

RELATED: Jasmine Bubble Tea

Recipe Notes

Use a Thai tea mix to make it authentic.
Use this brand, which is a very popular Thai tea mix. The bright orange color comes from the food coloring that’s in the tea mix.

There’s a lot of sugar.
To get the drink to taste authentic, it needs a lot of sugar. If you try to make it with less sugar, it won’t taste as good as the ones you’ve had at Thai restaurants.

Warm tapioca balls have the perfect consistency.
Make this drink with warm tapioca balls. It’s so good when it’s nice and warm. Just cool down the tapioca balls just a little bit so that they’re not too hot to eat.

Tapioca balls can’t be made the day before.
Tapioca balls start to harden as they cool. About 4 hours after cooking them they’ll be too hard to eat, so they can’t be made ahead of time.

Pouring sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk into a cup of Thai iced tea with boba.

Expert Tips

  • Thai iced tea is perfect to serve with spicy food since it’s sweet and milky to balance out the heat.
  • The Thai tea mix with black tea can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Don’t add any milk until the drink is ready to be served.
  • Bubble tea is best when the tapioca balls are just made and still warm, so assemble the drink and serve it immediately.
  • All bubble tea is served with a wide straw, to get a few tapioca balls with each sip of the tea.
  • This recipe will make 16 ounces (2 cups), so make sure to have a large enough glass.

Questions You May Have

Does this drink contain caffeine?

Yes. The Thai tea mix has black tea and the additional black tea in the recipe both add caffeine to this drink.

What is in Thai tea mix?

Thai tea mix is made with black tea, spices, and coloring. The exact spices and quantities are usually not listed because they are a company’s secret blend.

Why is Thai iced tea orange?

The food coloring that’s in the Thai tea mix gives the drink its bright orange color.

Thai Bubble Tea in a glass with ice, without a straw.

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Thai Iced Tea with Boba (Thai Bubble Tea)

Author: Jee Choe
Make your own decadent Thai iced tea with boba at home in a few easy steps.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 17 mins
Course Drinks
Yield1 serving (16 ounces)

INGREDIENTS
 

Thai Iced Tea

Tapioca Balls

INSTRUCTIONS
 

MAKE TEA

  • Steep Thai tea mix and black tea in hot water for 5 minutes.

    Set the water temperature to 195°F if you're using an electric kettle with a temperature setting. Use filtered water when possible.
  • Strain tea leaves. Stir in brown sugar.
    Set aside to cool.

COOK TAPIOCA BALLS

  • Boil water 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.
    (Follow directions on your tapioca ball packaging if you're using a different brand than the one I’m using.)
  • Drain tapioca balls.
    Cool slightly, until tapioca balls aren't too hot to eat. They should still be quite warm.

ASSEMBLE DRINK

  • Combine sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk.
    In a separate cup or bowl stir together sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Set aside.
  • Put warm tapioca balls into a glass then add ice. Pour in tea. Top with milk mixture.
    Serve immediately. Stir before drinking. Use a wide straw to drink. 

NOTES

  • Thai iced tea is perfect to serve with spicy food since it’s sweet and milky to balance out the heat.
  • A blend of black tea and spices, Thai tea mix what gives this drink the distinctive Thai iced tea flavoring and bright orange color.
  • The Thai tea mix with black tea can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Don’t add any milk until the drink is ready to be served.
  • Even though there’s black tea in the Thai tea mix, I like to boost the tea flavor by adding black tea. Use loose tea, tea sachets, or tea bags.
  • Any sugar can be used, but I prefer brown sugar in drinks with black tea.
  • Don’t replace evaporated milk with regular milk since it won’t taste quite the same.
  • Bubble tea is best when the tapioca balls are just made and still warm so assemble the drink and serve it immediately.
  • Tapioca balls start to harden as it cools, making them harder to chew. After about 4 hours of cooking them, they’ll be too hard to eat so they can’t be made ahead of time.
  • All bubble tea is served with a wide straw, to get a few tapioca balls with each sip of the tea.
  • This recipe will make 16 ounces (2 cups), so make sure to have a large enough glass.

NUTRITION

Calories: 397 | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 156mg | Potassium: 370mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 318mg | Iron: 1mg
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