Bubble tea (Bubble Milk Tea or boba tea) is a storm worldwide. Let’s learn how to make bubble tea or boba tea at home.

Homemade bubble tea is healthier, cheaper, and with more personal customizations. We will cover everything from how to cook boba pearls, how to make the classic brown sugar milk tea, and how to make flavored bubble tea with other ingredients like taro, food coloring powder, or fresh melons.

how to make bubble tea

What’s Bubble tea

Bubble tea also known as boba or milk tea, originated from Taiwan in the 1980s. The Chinese name for this drink is “珍珠奶茶” (zhēn zhū nǎi chá), which literally translates to “pearl milk tea“.

The drink typically combines milk with tapioca pearls. In Chinese, the larger pearls are referred to as “波霸(bō bà) ” while the smaller pearls are called “bubbles”. But the terms are misused as it gets popularity across the world.

Boba” is a slang term for tapioca balls, which is also used to refer to bubble tea in some places.  There are lots of names for bubble tea, boba tea, boba drink, or milk tea.

brown sugar milk tea
strawberry boba|chinasichuanfood.com

Types of bubble tea

Brown Sugar Milk Tea, made with brown sugar syrup, milk, and tapioca pearls is the most famous and popular bubble tea.

Oolong bubble tea and jasmine bubble tea: traditionally bubble tea is made with black tea. But oolong and jasmine tea are two popular tea options for new bubble tea chain stores because of their light and refreshing taste.

Matcha bubble tea or matcha milk tea: this is a lovely green bubble tea made with matcha powder. Sometimes, honeydew is added for a thicker, melon taste.

Strawberry bubble tea: this pink strawberry bubble tea is the most popular among girls. The dirty strawberry bubble tea is made with strawberry jam while light pink is made with frozen strawberry.

Mango bubble tea: either using mango juice, fresh mango, or mango powder, mango bubble tea has a lovely yellow color.

Taro bubble tea: among all of the types of bubble tea, taro is the most unique for me. It is made from a root vegetable- taro sometimes ube cooperated to create a beautiful purple color.

matcha milk tea|chinasichuanfood.com
mango bubble tea

Main ingredients for Bubble tea

Tapioca pearls

Chewy round tapioca pearls made with tapioca starch. It is the bubble in our bubble tea.


whole milk, coconut milk, and oat milk are top choices for bubble tea. But whole milk is the most popular and classic choice. Sometimes, half and half, cream, and condensed milk are used to make the bubble tea even creamier.


Black tea is the most popular and classic choice as it gets a lovely red color addition. But tea options for bubble tea are quite wide. For example, fruit-based bubble tea, green tea, or jasmine green tea is used because of its lighter color and taste. Oolong lovers can also add the sweet, floral flavor of oolong tea base to a cup of bubble tea.

Some bubble tea doesn’t contain any tea because tea is used to refer to a drink in Chinese. But adding a tea base will enhance the flavor and possibility of bubble teas.


Simple syrup including white sugar simple syrup and brown sugar syrup are the most two popular sweeteners for bubble tea. However, sweetened condensed milk and honey are also popular options now. Sweeteners can be used for coating the boba pearls or sweetening the liquid base.

Boba Pearls

Traditionally, boba pearls are made from tapioca starch. However, we get new options now. There are three types of boba pearls namely: agar boba (crystal boba), popping boba, and tapioca boba pearls.

Tapioca pearls the bubble or boba in the drink are chewy round balls, that add a unique chewy texture to bubble tea. Dried tapioca pearls need a long time of cooking. So tapioca pearls should be prepared in advance. There are also instant boba and quick boba (requiring only 5 minutes of cooking). So read the package instruction first.
Crystal boba is made with agar powder. It is much softer with a crackling texture. Usually, crystal boba is packaged in syrup, and you don’t need to cook it.

Popping boba is made from sodium alginate and calcium chloride with fruit or colored juice.

Choose your boba

If you plan to use crystal boba or popping boba, there is no extra step to prepare it. They are ready to use. If you use dried boba pearls, cook them before moving to other ingredients.

Made from tapioca starch, these pearls are cooked until soft and slightly sweet, creating a satisfying and addictive texture that is perfect for sipping through a wide straw. As you take a sip of your bubble tea, the pearls roll around in your mouth, releasing a subtle sweetness and adding a playful element to your drink. Whether you prefer classic black tea or fruity flavors, tapioca pearls are the perfect addition to any bubble tea, adding a fun and delicious twist to your favorite drink.

How to cook tapioca pearls

Read the instructions on the package first. Do not mix your pearls with cold water, otherwise, they will be destroyed and dissolved. Bring enough water to a boil and then cook the pears for 20 to 30 minutes (time on your package).  Then let it stand for another 20 to 30 minutes (required time on the package). Then transfer out and rinse under running water, this helps to remove the attached starch on the boba pearls.

how to cook boba pearls|chinasichuanfood.com
how to cook boba pearls|chinasichuanfood.com

If you want to make the boba pearls even chewier, soak them in iced water.

Sweeten the boba pearls

Then drain and mix with syrup to avoid sticky together. If you don’t have ready-to-use syrup, simply it with white sugar or brown sugar just like what I did for pink strawberry boba pearls.

For brown sugar boba, simmer the cooked boba pearls with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of water for another 5 minutes. This is my favorite way of sweetening the tapioca pearls.

how to cook boba pearls|chinasichuanfood.com
how to cook boba pearls|chinasichuanfood.com

Assemble the bubble tea

Assembling bubble tea is my favorite part because I love to see the combination of milk and tea. Place around 3 tablespoons of cooked boba pearls, then add ice cubes if you prefer. Top with tea base and milk. Stir well.

how to make bubble tea

How to make bubble tea

Learn how to make bubble tea, using this formula, you can make your own bubble tea at home.
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Bubble
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 260kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 1/4 cup sugar ,divided, 2 tablespoons for soaking the peals and 2 tablespoons for milk tea
  • 2 red tea bags ,one for each serving
  • 2 cups milk

Cook the boba pearls (larger batch, can make 4 cups of bubble tea)

  • 1 cup tapioca pearls
  • 8 cups water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar Note1

Classic Bubble tea

  • 1 black tea bag
  • 200 ml hot water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or half half
  • ice cubes
  • extra syrup if needed

Matcha bubble tea

  • 2 tsp. matcha powder
  • 100 ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp. condensed milk
  • 1 cup whole milk or milk of choice

Taro bubble tea

  • 2 tbsp. taro powder
  • 100 ml warm water
  • 1 tbsp. condensed milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ice cubes

Mango bubble tea

  • 1 cup mango nectar
  • 1 jasmine tea bag +150ml hot boiling water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Strawberry bubble tea

  • 7 fresh strawberry
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • dried crispy strawberries


Cook the boba pearls

  • Bring 8 times of water to a boiling and then place tapioca pearls. Read the instruction on the package (find the required time). It may be 20 minutes or 5 minutes. Cover the lid, turn off the fire and let it rest for another required time.
  • Rinse the boba pearls under running water. Then mix the boba pearls with brown sugar.
  • Add around ¾ cup of brown sugar in a pot, then place the boba pearls in. No need to add water. Slow down the fire and stir from time to time to avoid being sticky.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes until there are large bubbles and a thick brown syrup is formed. Now our brown sugar boba pearls are ready for all types of bubble tea, milk tea, latte, or even as toppings for desserts.

Brew the tea

  • If you are using any tea base, place the tea bag in hot boiling water and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and set the liquid aside to cool down.

Classic bubble tea

  • add 3 tablespoons of boba pearls with brown sugar syrup in serving cup. Pour in the black tea liquid and then the milk. You can see the strike flower formed.
  • Taro milk tea

Matcha bubble tea

  • Whisk matcha with condensed milk and water in a small cup.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of boba pearls with brown sugar syrup in serving cup. Add ice and then pour in milk.
  • Top with the matcha mixture.

Strawberry bubble tea

  • Smash strawberries in a sauce pot and then add the white sugar.Cook this strawberry mixture over low heat until it thickens and resembles the same consistency as strawberry jam.
  • Grab the cup of your choice and place tapioca pearls down the bottom. We’re using strawberry boba today but you can also use regular tapioca pearls.
  • Next, add the strawberry puree. You want to coat the inside of the cup with the puree as much as possible to distribute the flavor.
  • Top with ice cubes, milk, and tea (optional). Note1
  • Add crispy strawberries as a garnish and decorate with fresh ones if you like. Stir before serving.

Taro bubble tea

  • Add taro powder, condensed milk and water in a cup. Mix these ingredients together. A hand-held frother or mixer is the easiest way, but you can also use a whisk or fork. Just make sure the cocoa powder has completely dissolved in the hot water and no granules remain.
  • Add around 3 tablespoons of boba pearls. Add ice cubes and then pour milk. Pour the taro powder mixture in. Mix well before serving.

Mango bubble tea

  • Add around 3 tablespoons of boba pearls. Place the mango nectar. Then pour in milk and green tea. Mix well before serving.



Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 161mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Calcium: 138mg
brown sugar milk tea

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    1. Hi Myriam,
      I bought the boba pearls from market. Try to find it on amazon or local Asian Market. If you really want to make it at home, use tapioca flour(120g to 140g), sugar(30g) and water (60g)to make mixture. Then coat your hands with starch and roll the small balls one by one. Then roll the balls in tapioca starch to make the balls. But it is very time consuming.

  1. Hi Elaine,

    I would like to try the bubble tea. The place I live, i get fresh tapioca. Can I make balls with boiled tapioca?

    1. Hi Asha,
      I never tried to use boiled fresh tapioca to make Boba balls.But it sounds like a good idea if the boba balls are really hard to find. But fresh ones cannot be as chewy as starch balls.

    1. Thalia,
      Homemade bubble milk tea is much healthier without weird ingredients. Try it yourself whenever possible.

  2. Just a suggestion for making your blog easier to read: don’t depend on spell check to correct typo’s! A number of typo’s in this article make it difficult to read.

    1. Thanks Sammi for your suggestion. I will pay more attention to my English writing in following recipes.

  3. I love this – been looking for a way to make simple, weird ingredient-free bubble tea at home, especially since I am lactose intolerant and cannot have regular milk teas. Thanks a lot Elaine! All of your recipes look absolutely incredible

    1. You are welcome, Beatrice. Hope you like your homemade version and free to enjoy milk tea at home whenever you want.

    1. Hi Tiffany,
      Do you mean that you cannot find store selling boba tea or the boba balls? If there is no boba tea shop, why not just make yourself one serving at home?

  4. 5 stars
    Your milk tea with the caramelized sugar is the absolute best! I used the PG Tips (British black tea) and brown sugar.

    I skipped the tapioca balls – though I remember using them before and the syrup they come in adds a unique flavor to the tea.