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Bubble Tea at Home

For sites devoted to bubble tea recipes and supplies, check out:
BubbleTea Supply for recipes and supplies.

Bubble Tea Home Recipes

Bubble Tea is a colorful blend of sweetened tea or juice with sweetened cooked tapioca pearls or coconut jelly and often a creamy addition or flavoring syrup or powder, shaken until well mixed. Bubble tea was originally named for the frothy bubbles that form when it is correctly mixed. Another, older name for this drink, which first became popular in Taiwan, is "Pearl Tea". Nowadays, people often refer to the tapioca pearls as the bubbles, but authentic bubble tea is also made with diced coconut jelly.

Usually served with a huge straw big enough to suck up the tapioca pearls, this refreshing drink can be offered hot or cold. Substituting soy milk, milk, cream or half and half, or sweetened condensed milk instead of non dairy creamer varies the texture. You can use tea, juice or water for your base. Each cup of liquid usually has 2-3 tablespoons of tapioca added. Variations include blending your drink with ice or frozen fruit before adding the tapioca to make a bubble shake or smoothie. The sweetener may be a commercial syrup or powder or your homemade syrup made with white or brown sugar or fructose.

How to cook bubble tea tapioca pearls

2 1/2 cups or approximately 6-10 servings
Use shorter cooking time if you plan to refrigerate the pearls several days

1 cup large black or white tapioca pearls
8 cups water

  1. Never use less than 6 cups of water for each one cup of dry tapioca pearls. 8 or 10 to one is better.
  2. Most people like the pearls a little soft on the outside but a bit chewy. If you like your pearls tender all the way through, measure them, then cover with water and soak them for a few hours before draining and cooking.
  3. Bring the cooking water to a vigorous boil in a large pot.
  4. Stir in the tapioca pearls slowly, so they do not stick together or sink into a clump. The tapioca pearls will soon rise to float in the water.
  5. As soon as they float, boil covered for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the tapioca pearls. Stir two or three times during cooking.
  6. Turn the heat off and let the tapioca sit in the cooking water for another 25 minutes. Stir two or three times during soaking.
  7. Rinse the cooked tapioca pearls in tap water until the water runs clear and drain.
  8. Cover with bubble tea sugar syrup or brown sugar syrup, stir to coat. Refrigerate covered if not used right away; they will keep three or four days before they get too mushy.
  9. When you want some bubble tea, boil a cup of water and warm some refrigerated tapioca pearls for about 3-5 minutes. Then stir into the drink. Enjoy!

Some notes from further experiments:
Start by soaking the pearls. Mix tapioca pearls and one tablespoon sugar with boiling water in a large bowl. Stir quickly to separate pearls and to dissolve sugar. Let stand at least two hours check texture and let stand up to 30 minutes more. Check if pearls are squishy on the outside and pasty in the center. Do not soak any longer; the cooked pearls will get too mushy.

Drain the soaked pearls. Keep the water that they were soaked in and add remaining sugar to the water you have saved. Boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add in soaked pearls and IMMEDIATELY lower heat to medium. Simmer for a few minutes till the centers of the tapioca balls become rather clear. Check for doneness by sampling the balls every so often. When done, cooked tapioca pearls are a bit chewy inside and gooey soft outside.

Drain the cooked pearls and pour cold water over them to stop them from cooking. Refrigerate cooked pearls and use by the next day. Some people store the pearls in water or syrup, but I prefer to just cook them till tender, drain them and store in a plastic zipper bag or container without the water. At this point, you can freeze them in a single layer in a freezer baggy. Thaw overnight to use.

If they get a bit sticky, gently separate them before using by pouring lukewarm water over the pearls and then draining them.


How to make bubble tea sugar syrup

This syrup is used BOTH to cover the cooked tapioca pearls and to sweeten the freshly made drink. Use all white sugar to flavor pearls for delicate fruit flavors and green tea drinks.
Use 1-2 tablespoons syrup for each 16 ounce serving.

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups water

  1. Mix sugar and water in a large pot.
  2. Cook at medium to high heat.
  3. As soon as the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils remove from heat.
  4. Let cool and refrigerate or serve.


How to prepare traditional quantity black or green tea base for bubble tea

about 30 servings. This is a strong boiled tea base, tastes slightly different from brewed tea. Use 1 cup of ice with 1 cup of strong tea base for each 16 ounce serving. Refrigerate tea between uses.

1 gallon water
4 ounces by weight black or green jasmine tea OR The base can also be made with green tea, oolong tea, chai spice tea blend, Thai tea blend, yerba mate, or redbush/rooiboos, or even COFFEE.

  1. Mix water and tea in a large pot, preferably not aluminum.
  2. Cover, cook at medium heat.
  3. As soon as it comes to a boil, time it, boil 8 minutes. Remove from stove immediately.
  4. Strain at once, let cool and use as a base for pearl tea drinks.


Pearl Milk Bubble Tea

This is the classic bubble tea drink. The most popular flavors are black tea and green jasmine tea. The cream may be omitted.

3/4 cup strong tea base
2 tablespoons creamy ingredient (condensed milk, evaporated milk, soy or almond milk, etc)
1 tablespoon bubble tea sugar syrup
1 cup ice
3 to 4 tablespoons cooked Bubble Tea Tapioca Pearls

  1. Put tea, creamy ingredient and bubble tea sugar syrup in shaker and mix well.
  2. Add in ice, cover shaker and shake for a nice froth.
  3. Add tapioca pearls to the glass, and pour your drink over. Stir and enjoy.


How to make a boba bubble tea fresh fruit drink

The most popular fresh fruit boba drinks include strawberry, watermelon, mango, red bean (adzuki), and papaya.

1 cup fresh fruit
OR 1/2 cup fruit and 1 scoop commercial bubble tea flavor powder
1/2 cup milk
OR 1/2 cup tea or water PLUS 2 tablespoons creamy ingredient
1 tablespoon bubble tea sugar syrup
1 cup crushed ice
3 to 4 tablespoons cooked tapioca pearls

  1. Put all ingredients except bubble tea tapioca pearls into a blender and blend until the fruits are liquified.
  2. Add bubble tea tapioca pearls to a cup, and pour your drink over. Cover and shake well.


How to make Thai Tea OR Chai tea bubble tea

1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) ready to drink Thai tea OR Chai tea
1 tablespoon bubble tea sugar syrup
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup ice
3 to 4 tablespoons cooked tapioca pearls

  1. Mix together the tea, ice, sugar syrup and sweetened condensed milk and shake until little bubbles form on the top of the drink.
  2. Add bubble tea tapioca pearls to a 16 ounce cup, and pour your drink over.


How to make a Coconut Jelly Bubble Tea

Coconut jelly is a commercial product made from coconut milk and meat. Just dice and substitute for the tapioca pearls on the bottom of the drink.