Bubble or Boba tea is a famous drink coming from Taiwan. It is probably the signature beverage of this country that is globally known and enjoyed. For a decade now, Bubble tea remains a global phenomenon, becoming a symbol of drinking culture and a bridge between countries and people in different parts of the world. If one would compare the effect of Bubble tea regarding a global impact, we would say it is similar to Coca Cola, Japanese green tea or other, commercially available beverages you can get anywhere.
Bubble tea is not famous for no reason. This drink has an exceptionally unique visual appearance, and the ingredients make it extremely tasty. Its exotic taste, cultural authenticity, stunning color gradients and restless tapioca pearls floating around in the cup make Bubble tea what it is today; a cultural phenomenon.
But, in case you don’t have a Boba shop near you, and you would like to make this drink at home, you’re in the right place. In the following paragraphs, we will introduce you to some Bubble tea basics, recipes and indispensable ingredients needed to make this heavenly refreshment. Hope we have your attention, so let’s get going!
More: What is Bubble Tea?
Main and Additional Ingredients
Now, it is important to say that there are several types of Bubble tea. You can make the drink basically however you want, as many shops do; ingredients can vary and there is always something new that is being added. However, there is only one classic and original way to make this amazing drink. So, we will share with you the ingredients for the classic Boba and of course, ingredients for the varieties of the drink.
Classic Bubble Tea Ingredients
- 30g of dried tapioca pearls, or ¼ cup (there is a type of quick-cooking tapioca pearls, and the ones that take longer to cook, so choose according to your preferences),
- 10g of loose- leaf black tea (for example, English Breakfast), or 1-2 tea bags per cup,
- Approximately 400ml of water (150ml for cooking the tea, 80-100ml for soaking the tapioca pearls and additional 150ml for cooking the pearls),
- 150ml of milk (soy or almond milk (does it go bad?), you can also use regular, fresh or powdered milk),
- Half a cup of sweetener (honey, sugar, maple syrup),
Additional Ingredients for Bubble Tea Varieties
- Flavoring powders (almond, banana, avocado, blueberry, cherry, mango and other types of flavoring powders, depending which you can get your hands on),
- Flavored syrups (honeydew syrup, lychee syrup, mango or passionfruit syrup; each contains for example melon juice, fructose, sugar, citric acid, etc.)
- Toppings (lychee or agar syrup for example),
- Different types of tapioca pearls (for example, colored tapioca pearls that you can buy at the Asian market or order online),
- Taro balls (similar to tapioca pearls, made from the taro plant),
- Ice cream (1 scoop to 1 cup of ice cream, depending on your preferences),
- Espresso shot,
- Different types of milk (Tapioca milk, Thai milk, Jasmine flavored milk, Coconut milk or Red bean milk),
- Other types of tea, like green, Oolong or Matcha,
- Different types of jelly (fruit, coconut, herbal, Aloe Vera or green tea jelly),
- A shot of your favorite alcohol (Bourbon, Rum, Gin, or Vodka), if you’re making a version that is not kids-friendly.
Alongside all the aforementioned ingredients, you will also need a saucepan, a mixing cup, a serving cup and of course, the so-called fat or wide Bubble tea straw. These straws are used because they are convenient to drink and scoop all the tapioca pearls in the tea. They are usually very cheap and you can buy packs of several reusable Bubble tea straws. All of the aforementioned ingredients can be bought at the Asian market, Asian shops, sometimes even at the regular store, or you can order them online.
Classic Bubble Tea Recipe
Now that we have all of our necessary ingredients, it is time to make our Boba tea. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the classic recipe with the main ingredients;
- Prepare the tapioca pearls
You will prepare your dried tapioca pearls by leaving them to soak overnight in 80 to 100 ml of water. This will make the tapioca pearls softer, and later on when cooked, chewier and rubbery. Once the tapioca pearls are done soaking, make sure to place them in a pan with 150ml of water and leave everything to boil. If you’re using the quick-cooking tapioca pearls, you will boil them between 1 and 2 minutes. If you’re, however, using the regular dried tapioca pearls, you will cook them up to 20 minutes. When they’re done the cooking, feel free to leave them to sit for a few minutes longer in the hot water.
- ‘Marinate’ the tapioca pearls
At this point your tapioca pearls are thoroughly cooked, strained and rinsed. Now is the time to place them in a bowl and cover with your favorite sweetener. You can use honey or another sweet syrup; we recommend you use maple syrup. You can mix your sweetener with a little bit of water and place it over heat; either stove or in the microwave. This is especially recommended if you’re using sugar, but if not, you can simply add the sweetener to the pearls and leave them to ‘marinate’.
- Prepare the tea and milk mixture
Once your tapioca is ready and marinating, it is time to move on to preparing a strong cup of black tea. Make sure to add 150ml of water to a saucepan and bring to boil. Once the water is boiling, add 10g of your favorite loose-leaf black tea; we recommend you use English Breakfast. If you’re using tea bags, place 1 to 2 tea bags in the water to boil. Let everything boil for 1 minute, after which you will add 150ml of soy milk or any other type of milk you prefer. You will also bring this mixture to boil, and then turn off the heat. Make sure to strain the mixture to a mixing cup and remove any leaves. Stir well and add, for example, condensed milk, fruit syrup or ingredients according to your preferences.
- Finish the Bubble tea
Now that your tapioca pearls, as well as the tea-milk mixture, are ready, it is time to arrange your Bubble tea. Make sure to place the tapioca pearls at the bottom of your serving cup first. Then, pour over the tea-milk mixture. At this point, you’re pretty much done. All you have to do is place the Bubble tea into the fridge to cool down; you can also add some ice to the tea if you want, or you can drink it hot. If you’re using tea bags, make sure to leave them in the cup for as long as you can, in order to get a stronger flavor. Before drinking, simply remove the bags. And finally, add the straw and you’re ready to bear the fruits of your hard work.
Preparing Bubble Tea Varieties
Over the past few years, the classic Boba tea has received some competition. Due to their spectacular appearance and exceptional taste, different varieties of the classic Boba have started to emerge. Nowadays, there are dozens, if not hundreds of varieties you can order at Boba shops around the world. However, you can also make your own special Bubble tea at home. By taking into consideration the aforementioned additional ingredients, here are some fun types of Bubble tea you can make today;
- Fruited-filled version
This version of Bubble tea requires almost the same ingredients as the classic Boba. However, instead of milk, you will simply make iced tea. With the iced tea, you will submerge the tapioca pearls or Taro balls, add sweeteners and syrups and of course, your fruits. You can try slicing a honeydew melon into cubes, add some strawberries and fruit jelly to your drink, and there you have it; a refreshing, fruit-filled Bubble tea that is exceptional during hot, summer days. This version of Bubble tea is really light, refreshing and low in calories, which makes it not only tasty but also healthy.
- Ice Cream Coffee version
Now, this version of Boba will blow your mind. It requires the same, basic preparation of the drink; you will also need a shot of espresso, sweetened condensed milk, and ice cream. However, instead of black tea, to your Boba you will add a cup of water-diluted espresso; then, you will add tapioca pearls, sweeteners, jelly, and other ingredients according to personal preference. Finally, you will top everything with a scoop or two of ice cream, some crushed ice and additional condensed milk with granulated brown sugar.
- Taro Milk version
The Taro milk version of Bubble tea is actually pretty old-school in Taiwan and East Asia, as it can be traced back to 1980s. However, to the Western world, it is pretty new and interesting. To make it, you will need Taro; this is a root vegetable that can be compared to sweet potato (if you don’t have Taro, feel free to use cooked sweet potato balls). Taro is cooked and then pureed before added to the Boba. Taro thickens the drink furthermore while adding flavor. Alongside Taro, you will also need loose-leaf jasmine green tea to get the wonderful purple color of the drink. Other ingredients are classic; tapioca pearls, sweeteners, a bit of water, sugar, and milk, which is optional.
Homemade Tapioca Pearls
If you’re feeling really enthusiastic about making Bubble tea at home, maybe you should consider homemade tapioca pearls as well. Of course, you will need a several ingredients, strong will and a some time at your hand; but, in return, you will have an endless supply of tapioca pearls. If you like the sound of this, here’s what you will need;
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Large and small bowl
- Butter knife
- Cutting board
- Slotted spoon
- Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, 1 cup
- Other types of flour or starch (corn or potato starch, wheat flour)
- Brown sugar ¼ cup
- Black food dye, optional, ¼ tsp
- Some water
- To a pan add brown sugar and some water. Make sure to bring to boil and let the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, you can add ¼ tsp of black food dye, but this step is completely optional. Even without the dye, the end product will still be darker tapioca pearls.
- Now that the sugar and the dye are thoroughly mixed, proceed by adding half a cup of tapioca starch or any other type of starch that you have. Mix thoroughly until the mixture is sticky and rubbery.
- Transfer the sticky tapioca starch into a bowl and add the rest of the starch. Make sure to mix thoroughly, until you can knead the mixture into ‘dough’.
- The tapioca ‘dough’ is now ready to be rolled out into a log. Make sure to place the dough on a cutting board, roll it out and cut in half. Then proceed rolling out the two halves. Once you’ve reached a desirable length and width, using the butter knife, cut the rolled-out dough halves into small pieces. Then, each piece should be formed into small balls, that look like tapioca pearls.
- At this point, you have completed your homemade tapioca pearls, and they are now ready to cook. Homemade tapioca pearls need to be cooked up to 20 minutes. Once cooked, make sure to place them into a bowl, and sprinkle them with either brown sugar or soak in honey or maple syrup.
More: Thai Iced Tea Recipe
And this is how you make Bubble tea at home. Sure, it might take you up to 35 minutes to cook and mix everything up, but it is definitely worth it. Homemade Boba might even be better than store-bought, not to mention healthier. You are aware of all the ingredients and you can adjust everything according to your own preferences. Plus, you can avoid artificial additives and flavoring, and simply focus on natural flavoring and ingredients. Making Bubble tea at home allows you to experiment, try out new flavor combinations and make it for friends and family. This beverage is really something, so why not make it yourself and enjoy it in the comfort of your home.