If you’ve ever tried bubble tea, also sometimes called boba or milk tea, then you know just how delicious this delectable treat is. Bubble tea gets its name “bubble” from the bubble-like tapioca pearls that sit at the bottom of the drink and can be sucked up through the straw. The tea itself comes in many flavors and colors, and it gets its opaque appearance from the mixing of different flavored tea brews with sweet milk. When put with the boiled tapioca pearls, the drink makes a sweet and refreshing combination that goes great solo or with a meal. Bubble tea is a traditionally Taiwanese drink, but as its popularity has been on the rise, it can be found in most towns and pretty much all cities where there is an abundance of different types of restaurants.
Some towns are too small to have places that sell bubble tea, though. And if you’re in the situation that you have to travel to get bubble tea or it’s too expensive to go out and buy, you can actually make it at home with a few simple ingredients that you can find at an Asian market or online if you don’t have a local Asian market.
Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients that make up a DIY bubble tea:
- 2-3 tea bags (depending on how strong you want the tea flavor) of green tea, Thai black tea, Chai tea, or any tea of choice really. You’ll want to pick something that will go well with a sweet taste, though.
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Tapioca pearls (colored, flavored, or not)
The first thing that you will want to do is steep the tea bags. I recommend steeping a couple of tea bags in a tall cup’s worth of really hot to boiling water and letting the tea steep until it is quite strong. This is important because the milk will dilute the strength of the tea. You want to do this ahead of time and may even want to do it hours before the next steps, as you’ll want the tea to be cold when you add the milk and cold enough that the ice doesn’t melt.
While your tea is steeping and cooling, you’ll want to start boiling the tapioca. Different packages of tapioca pearls have different instructions, but you’ll generally boil water, add the pearls, let them rise to the top of the water, then pull them out and drop them in ice-cold water for about 20 or 30 seconds. Once they’ve quickly cooled, you can put them in a bowl. I suggest adding sugar or honey and letting them soak in it so that they become sweet and remain moist and soft.
Once these steps are done, you can add the sweetened condensed milk to your tea. Do so to taste, whether you like it sweeter or milder. Some like to shake this mix up to properly combine, but you can just stir if you desire. Then, add your tapioca pearls, let them sink, add some ice, and drink up!