Bubble tea

Posted on August 28, 2014


I still haven’t gotten back into the swing of my more regular blogging, so this will just be a short post. Not really a recipe, but consider it as vague  directions for how to make your own pearl milk tea at home. Or bubble tea, pearl tea, boba tea, whatever you call it. I’m of course referring to the sweet tea with chewy tapioca spheres that is beloved throughout much of Asia and in Asian diaspora (predominately Chinese and South East Asian). There’re plenty of chain bubble tea stores around Australia to quench your thirst for these types of drinks. But at around $4 a pop, this drink addiction can start getting expensive. So why not make your own at home?


It sure is easy enough. Just get your hands on some tapioca pearls and hopefully you should already have some tea, sugar and milk in the pantry and fridge :). Tapioca pearls can be purchased from your local Asian grocer. I happened to buy the coloured ones because they were on sale, but rest assured, you will be able to find the more common black ones too.


With the tea, I would recommend making quite a strong brew, because you still want to be able to taste it with the addition of sugar and milk. The milk used for milk tea in Asia tends to be evaporated milk, because fresh milk is a little harder to source and store. Evaporated milk as its name suggests has about 40% of its water content evaporated out, leaving a creamy textured milk. Using fresh milk versus evaporated milk does alter the mouth feel a little, although that could be overcome somewhat by using more milk.

To cook your tapioca pearls, prepare a pot of rapidly boiling water. Place pearls into water and simmer until the pearls float towards the top (indicating that they are cooked), this takes ~5 minutes.


While pearls are cooking, dissolve 2 tablespoons sugar into 1/4 cup of hot water to make a simple sugar syrup. Drain cooked pearls and leave to soak in the sugar syrup for at least 10 -15 minutes. This amount of sugar syrup is good for soaking up to 6 serves of pearls, you will need to make more sugar syrup if you’re making more servings.

For the tea, I’ve just prepared a strong brew of oolong tea and dissolved some sugar into it until desired sweetness level was reached. Chill the tea if you wish to have it cold. There’s no rule specifying the type of tea you should use, it’s just a matter of taste. Most bubble tea venues will use a variety of teas, that’s why their menus are so long.

To assemble your bubble tea, place ~2 tablespoons of cooked pearls in a tall glass, half fill with strong sweetened tea then top up with milk. I just used fresh milk, but if using evaporated milk, I would suggest a lesser milk to tea ratio.


And that’s it. Enjoy your homemade bubble tea!