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How to Make DIY Bubble Tea (Boba Tea)

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My nearest bubble tea shop is about 30km from where I live. It's definitely quicker to make my own bubble tea at home!

Learn how to make pearl milk tea at home!

Learn how to make pearl milk tea at home!

Over the past decade, more and more bubble tea shops have been popping up around the world as the beverage steadily gains in popularity, especially among the younger generation. Bubble tea was originally created in Taiwan, where it first appeared in the 1980s.

The basic drink usually consists of a combination of tea, milk, sugar, and chewy tapioca pearls (also known as boba). Non-dairy teas include a mix of fruit juices, jellies, and fruit pieces. All of these drinks are sweet, refreshing, and infinitely customizable.

Where I live, in Australia, a basic bubble tea drink at a shop costs around $4.80. You can save a lot of money, though, if you make your own homemade version at home!

How to Make Bubble Tea

With the exception of the tapioca pearls, you probably already have most of the necessary ingredients in your pantry! Here are the ingredients for a classic pearl milk tea.

  • Tea: Your choice of black tea (plain or flavoured) or green tea.
  • Milk: Powdered, condensed milk or fresh milk. Most bubble tea makers use powdered milk.
  • Sugar
  • Tapioca pearls: You can find this in most Asian grocery stores. They usually come in packets of 250 grams or 500 grams, and the cost is quite inexpensive, usually just a few dollars. If there are no Asian markets in your area, you can also find them online.
This is what the dried tapioca pearls look like when you open the packet.

This is what the dried tapioca pearls look like when you open the packet.

Step 1: Prepare the Tapioca Pearls (Boba)

Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients

  • 10 cups water
  • 1 cup tapioca pearls (store-bought)
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Slowly add in the tapioca pearls. Give the water a gentle stir so that the pearls do not stick to each other.
  3. Let the water boil for 1 minute. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the tapioca pearls for 5 minutes (or according to the instructions on the packet).
  4. Turn off the heat and leave the tapioca pearls covered for a few minutes.
  5. Drain the hot water and rinse the tapioca pearls in cold water for about 10 seconds.
  6. Drain the cold water and transfer the pearls to a container.
  7. Stir in two tablespoons of honey and set aside for later use.
The cooked tapioca pearls with honey will look like this.

The cooked tapioca pearls with honey will look like this.

Step 2: Prepare the Tea

Yield: about 450ml of pearl milk tea

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250ml) black tea or tea of your choice
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar or honey, to taste
  • 3 teaspoons powdered milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons of cooked tapioca pearls
  • Ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Make a cup of tea. Add sugar or honey and chill for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, stir powdered milk into the tea.
  3. In a tall glass, add tapioca pearls.
  4. Drop ice cubes on top of the tapioca pearls, and then pour in the tea mixture.
  5. Serve with a large straw. Enjoy!

Bubble Tea Options

There are so many different ways to customize your tea! Most shops will offer these options, and you can create your own at home.

BaseChewy Bits to Add

Plain Black Tea

Tapioca Pearls

Milk Tea

Herbal Jelly

Green Tea

Mango Jelly

Flavoured Tea

Passion Fruit Jelly

Coffee

Strawberry Jelly

Chocolate/Flavoured Milk

Peach Jelly

Mocha

Lychee Jelly

Fruit Juices

Aloe Vera

It's easy to make a deliciously fruity bubble tea!

It's easy to make a deliciously fruity bubble tea!

How to Make Fruity Bubble Tea

Bubble tea drinks are not limited to just tea and milk—they can also be prepared with fruit juice. Fruit juice and milk do not mix well; the mixture will coagulate and turn yucky, so just remember not to add milk with the fruit juices.

Here's how to make your own thirst-quenching fruity bubble tea at home.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons cooked tapioca pearls
  • Chilled fruit juice of your choice

Instructions

  1. Scoop a few tablespoons of tapioca pearls into a large tall glass.
  2. Pour in the fruit juice.
  3. Top up with ice cubes if desired and serve cold.
Another fun DIY bubble tea uses coconut milk as a base.

Another fun DIY bubble tea uses coconut milk as a base.

Cost of Homemade Bubble Tea

One serving of homemade bubble milk tea = 450 ml

ItemTotal CostCost Per Serving

Box of Lipton Black Tea

$3

12 cents

Tin of Nestle Powdered Milk

$5.99

51 cents

Sugar (500g)

$1.50

4 cents

Tapioca Pearls (250g)

$2.80

84 cents

TOTAL COST

--

$1.51

Cost of Homemade vs. Storebought Bubble Tea

How much money can you save by making your own bubble tea at home?

In the table above, I've listed all of the ingredients, how much they cost at the store, and how much it costs if you divide down to a single serving of bubble tea.

  • Cost of homemade = $1.51
  • Cost of store-bought = $4.80 (price at my local shop)

As you can see, making your own pearl milk tea at home can easily save you up to two-thirds of the marked-up cost!

© 2014 lady rain

Comments

Lisa Jane from Maine on October 31, 2017:

I have never had bubble tea. But by reading this article, I am going to try one. It sounds delicious and I love tea.

lady rain (author) from Australia on October 05, 2015:

Chantelle Porter, cinnamon flavour is yum! Now I feel like having a cup of bubble tea, too.

Chantelle Porter from Ann Arbor on October 05, 2015:

I love bubble tea. It's not available in my town so when I go into Chicago I pick one up. The place I go to the pearls taste like cinnamon candy. Divine!

lady rain (author) from Australia on April 19, 2014:

hellovictoria, it is so convenient to have an Asian market near your place. You should be able to find different flavours of tapioca pearls too. Thank you for leaving a comment :)

ToriM from Atlanta on April 11, 2014:

Yum, I love bubble tea but I've never really thought of making it myself! Definitely going to try this recipe, there is an asian market down the street from my apartment...thanks for sharing :)

lady rain (author) from Australia on March 13, 2014:

Hi Audrey, green tea has health benefits and is great for making bubble tea. You can also adjust the amount of sugar you want to put in your drink. Thank you for stopping by here to leave a comment.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 13, 2014:

Hi Lady Rain I have never heard of bubble tea, but it sounds delicious. Tea, especially green tea, is my favorite drink other than water. It sound very easy to make and few calories. Tea is not a favorite either in my home area or where I live now in Oklahoma. They don't know what they are missing. Your directions are laid out well. Thanks for sharing. Blessings. Audrey Pinning

lady rain (author) from Australia on February 23, 2014:

Thelma - there are some bubble tea shops in Metro Manila. If you are in the area you might be able to check out some of them.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 21, 2014:

I've only had bubble tea at restaurants. I would love to try making it at home sometime. Thanks for the recipe!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on February 21, 2014:

I have not heard about this bubble tea. Thanks for sharing. I would love to try this.

Dil Vil from India on February 21, 2014:

Will try this sometime... good one, thank you for the same.

lady rain (author) from Australia on February 19, 2014:

J Sweet Tooth, the nearest bubble tea shop is about 30km from where I live. It is definitely quicker to make my own bubble tea at home than to travel all that distance to have a cup of tea! I hope you'll get to make your own bubble tea soon.

Janelle Cruz from Vancouver, Washington on February 19, 2014:

Thanks for this recipe! My husband and I love these drinks, but we are having a hard time finding them! Will have to try!