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Homemade Bubble Tea

Homemade Bubble Tea

Yes, you can make bubble tea at home! Get easy step-by-step instructions on how to make this delicious black tea boba tea recipe with chewy tapioca balls, brown sugar, and icy cold foam.

What is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea is a cold drink made with tea, milk, sugar, ice, and chewy tapioca pearls.

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese specialty that became popular in the 1980s. It’s now available all over the world.

The boba, or black tapioca balls at the bottom of the drink, are what give it its distinctive look. It’s made from tapioca starch obtained from the cassava root. A fatty straw is included that is big enough to suck up the tapioca balls while drinking tea.

Why is it called Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea is another name for boba, boba tea, boba milk tea, and bubble milk tea.

Homemade Bubble Tea Recipe Highlights

  • Many bubble tea shops, on the other hand, utilize powders that are high in chemicals and sugar. This recipe is prepared with real tea instead of powdered mixes and is properly brewed so that the flavor of the tea comes through clearly.
  • Using warm tapioca balls to make bubble tea improves the quality significantly! Don’t let the tapioca balls cool down completely — put them into the drink while they’re still warm. They’ll be soft and have a wonderful chew in the middle.
  • Handheld milk frothers, like the one below, create delicious cold foam that adds a luxurious and creamy touch to beverages.
  • Brown sugar is used in this boba tea mix instead of standard white sugar to give it a richer taste.
Homemade Bubble Tea

Homemade Bubble Tea Ingredient Notes

Black Tea
A strong black tea like Assam (which is what I used) or English breakfast tea is best to make a classic bubble tea. Use loose tea or tea sachets instead of tea bags.

Filtered water
Better water will make a better-tasting tea.

Tapioca pearls
The package says it’s ready in 5 minutes, but that’s a LIE.

Brown sugar
I’m a fan of brown sugar since it gives a deep, rich flavor, but you can swap the brown sugar with white sugar.

Half & half
To make the cold foam topping.

Granulated, white sugar
To sweeten the cold foam.

To keep the drink nice and refreshingly cold.

Homemade Bubble Tea with Cold Foam (Boba Milk Tea)



Serving Size


Prep time


Cooking time




Steep Time





  • Boil 2 ¾ cup of water. If using an electric kettle with a temperature setting, set the water to 208°F. Use filtered water if possible.

  • Combine tea and 2 ½ cups hot water and steep. (The leftover ¼ cup of hot water is to make the brown sugar simple syrup.)

  • Using a teapot with an infuser makes straining the tea leaves super easy.

  • Make Brown Sugar simple syrup

    Stir together hot water and dark brown sugar until sugar dissolves.
    Take the remaining ¼ cup hot water and stir in ¼ cup brown sugar.
  • 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)

    Drain tapioca balls.

    Combine tapioca balls and brown sugar simple syrup.

    Stir in dark brown simple syrup into the pot with the strained boba. Let cool slightly so it's warm but not boiling hot.

  • Make Cold Foam

    Lightly whip half & half and sugar.

    Use a handheld milk frother and whip until it starts to thicken.

  • Assemble Drink

    Divide each component into two cups.

    Spoon tapioca balls in brown sugar simple syrup, add ice, then black tea, and top with cold foam. Stir together before drinking.



  • Make sure your tapioca balls are still warm when you assemble the drink. They’ll be nice and soft with a little chew.
  • Instead of loose tea, you can use 3 tea sachets or 6 tea bags.
  • If you want less tea, use 4 teaspoons of tea which is 2 tea sachets or 4 tea bags.
  • Use an extra wide straw to drink your bubble tea.
  • Do not make tapioca balls more than 1-2 hours ahead of time. After 4 hours, they’ll start to harden. The drink is the best when assembled and served right before drinking.
  • Bubble tea can be made with all kinds of tea. All you need to do is add tapioca balls to a drink and it instantly becomes boba tea!
  • If you prefer weaker tea, use 2 teaspoons of tea per serving.
  • If you don’t want the trouble of making the cold foam, just add 4 tablespoons of half & half to each serving instead.
  • The tea, brown sugar simple syrup, and cream froth can all be made ahead of time and stored separately in the refrigerator. The tea keeps for 4 days at the most, the syrup for up to 2 weeks, and cold foam for up to 2 days. Just the tapioca balls can’t be made ahead.
  • To adjust the amount of sugar that goes into the drink, strain out the tapioca balls from the brown sugar simple syrup when assembling the drink. Add the simple syrup after the drink has been made to see how sweet you want it.

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