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How to Make Bubble Tea (Boba Tea, 波霸奶茶/珍珠奶茶) | Family Cuisine

Hi my name is ________ and I am a huge fan of boba drinks. They are just so refreshing and delicious.

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How to make boba drinks
Bubble Tea Recipe - a simple tutorial on how to make bubble tea at home!

Bubble tea is one of my favorite things to sip on during the summer. Originating from Taiwan, bubble tea (波霸奶茶/珍珠奶茶) usually consists of sweetened tea with milk and the characteristic chewy tapioca balls, also known as boba (波霸). Bubble tea comes in many flavors: plain tea flavors such as black or jasmine tea; fruit flavors such as strawberry or honeydew; and even taro, which is a root vegetable commonly used in Asian dishes. (You can read more about the history of bubble tea here).

While I enjoy drinking bubble tea, I don’t particularly like the ones sold in the teahouse chains because they contain too much sugar. The good thing is that you can make bubble tea at home easily! In this bubble tea recipe, all you really need is tea, tapioca pearls, milk, and a sweetener.

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How to Make Bubble Tea - a simple tutorial on how to make bubble tea at home!

WHAT KIND OF TEA DO YOU USE?

The best kinds of tea to use are those that have a robust flavor, such as black or jasmine tea. Because you will water down the tea with milk and ice cubes, you want a strong tasting tea that will retain its flavor. I used Numi’s Chinese Breakfast Tea for the recipe, but any strong tea will work. Another tea blend I recommend is equal parts Assam and Ceylon tea leaves.

Quick Cooking Tapioca Balls

WHAT KIND OF TAPIOCA PEARLS DO YOU USE FOR BUBBLE TEA RECIPE?

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I typically use this brand of tapioca pearls, which cooks in about 5 minutes. I like that these pearls cook quickly, but the texture could be better. (For reference, slower cooking tapioca pearls can take up to an hour to cook.) You can find these tapioca pearls in Asian supermarkets or on Amazon.

One important thing to note about these quick-cooking tapioca pearls is that you should only cook as many as you need. The pearls stiffen as they cool, so they do not keep well overnight. However, if you leave the pearls in their cooking water, the pearls retain their soft texture for a longer time. In other words, don’t drain the hot water once you are done cooking the pearls. Instead, use a slotted spoon to remove the pearls from the saucepan, and leave any excess pearls in the saucepan.

Adding milk to tea

WHAT KIND OF MILK DO YOU USE? CAN THIS BE DAIRY FREE?

I prefer using whole milk the most because the rich flavor makes the beverage tastier overall. I tried a version of the bubble tea with heavy cream. While the flavor of the tea was even better than the version I made with whole milk, it felt too decadent. Perhaps using half-and-half is a good compromise?

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You can also make a dairy-free version with nut milks or soy milk. I tried using canned coconut milk once, and the coconut milk left a funny feeling in my mouth. It felt as if my mouth was coated with a thin layer of coconut fat.

WHAT KIND OF SWEETENER DO YOU USE?

Any kind of sweetener works. However, if you use honey (or any thick syrup), it is best if you mix in the honey while the tea is hot so that the honey can dissolves evenly. The same goes for granulated sugar. Of course, this will mean that you’ll have to approximate how much sweetener you’ll need before the bubble tea is ready for tasting. You’ll probably need at least 2 tablespoons of honey for every 2 cups of tea.

Because everyone has different preferences for sweetness, I recommend preparing simple syrup and having each person add however much simple syrup they want into their drinks. Simple syrup is easy to prepare. Combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan and heat to a boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves and turn off the heat. Once the simple syrup has cooled, bottle it up, and it’s ready to be used. Typically, I use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of simple syrup for each drink, just so it tastes barely sweet. Some people might want more syrup in their drink.

CAN YOU MAKE THIS BUBBLE TEA RECIPE AHEAD?

You can steep the tea 1 or 2 days before and store it in the refrigerator. Also, you can make the simple syrup several days ahead. I wouldn’t recommend cooking the tapioca pearls more than an hour ahead because the pearls harden quite quickly.

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Bubble Tea Recipe - a simple tutorial on how to make bubble tea at home!

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