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Homemade Bubble Tea Recipe – 5 Ways
How to Make Bubble Tea at Home with Black Pearl Tapioca Balls
Now you can make your favorite summertime (or anytime) drink in your own kitchen with these healthy boba tea recipes! Learn how to make bubble tea at home, including how to cook black pearl tapioca balls and where to find them. I’ve got 5 bubble tea recipe ideas to share, with flavors ranging from strawberry to matcha to iced coffee boba and more.
Bubble tea – also known as boba tea or bubble milk tea or pearl milk tea – is a deliciously sweet milk-based drink with chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom. Because boba tea tends to be high in added sugars, I’ve had tons of requests for a healthy bubble tea recipe (or at least healthy-ish). So, I decided to learn how to make bubble tea at home, so YOU are in control of the ingredients. You’ll find 5 simple, lower sugar bubble / boba tea recipe ideas below for your inspiration!
What is Boba Tea?
Authentic Boba Tea Ingredients
Boba tea a.k.a. bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, then started gaining popularity in the U.S. in the 1990s. Traditionally, boba milk tea has been a tea-based drink, usually shaken with milk and/or fruit of some kind for flavor. It’s served in a cup, with a thick straw designed for sipping up the chewy, black tapioca pearls on the bottom.
Sometimes bubble milk tea is made with actual black or green tea, sometimes it’s just a fruity milk base without any tea. Either way, one factor is a constant: boba tea is irresistibly sweet. Typically, the milk tea base is the source of all the sugar. Some boba drinks contain as much as 30-60g of sugar, and upwards of 500 calories. A delicious treat, but sometimes a sugar overload for me!
Can boba be healthy?
With any food or drink, the question of whether it’s “healthy” is so subjective. Personally, I enjoy drinking boba tea, and I give myself permission to drink it! No, it’s not hydrating like water, and it isn’t a rich source of nutrients like a breakfast smoothie might be. And yes, it tends to be higher in added sugars and starchy carbs (as some smoothies also can be). Overall, bubble tea has a place in my life because I enjoy it, though it’s not something that I typically enjoy every day. Only you can decide what’s right for you when it comes to boba!
In my own relationship with food, I’ve let go of labeling foods as “good” or “bad” because of the stress these labels create. All too often, we come to see ourselves as “good” or “bad” based on what we eat, leading to cycles of bingeing and restricting, or over-exercising trying to compensate. Plus, all of that stress about what we’re eating takes a toll on our bodies and minds. If you’re interested in diving deeper into your own relationship with food and eating habits, check out my Food Freedom course!
How do you make healthy bubble tea?
Some people are concerned about the starchy carbs in the boba pearls, and so they choose to omit them altogether. But, let’s be real—a boba tea recipe without the chewy boba is just plain old milk tea! Ultimately, learning how to make bubble tea at home is your best bet for a healthier choice.
You can still enjoy the chewy, starchy, not-so-nutrient-rich (albeit delicious) tapioca pearls, but served in a much lower sugar milk tea! I’ve designed each boba tea recipe below to be lower in sugar than the typical store-bought options, and you also have the option to not add any sugar or sweetener at all.
What are Boba Tapioca Pearls?
The term “boba” generally translates to “bubbles” or “big pearls,” referring to the chewy black tapioca pearls at the bottom of every cup. Boba pearls are made from the starch of the cassava root, also known as tapioca starch. It’s rich in carbohydrates, yet stripped of most other nutrients like fiber and minerals. Granted, boba pearls contain minimal-to-no added sugars, just loads of starchy carbs. That’s why bubble tea pearls are very chewy but sort of flavorless.
Nutrition: Are tapioca pearls bad for you?
Overall, boba tapioca pearls are delicious and fun to eat, though they’re not a rich source of nutrients. In ⅓ cup boba pearls, there are around 100 calories, 25g of carbs, 2g of fiber, and that’s pretty much it. And, for those who are gluten conscious, boba pearls are gluten free! Again, I tend to steer clear of calling any foods “good” or “bad.” I enjoy eating tapioca pearls, and I also recognize that they’re mainly a source of starchy carbohydrates.
Where to Find Bubble Milk Tea Pearls
I bought my black tapioca pearls online, and they conveniently came with a set of classic boba straws! This is a great set of boba tea cups, which you can purchase separately for serving if desired. You can use any cups and straws that you like, just know that those tapioca pearls will be far too thick to sip through a standard-size straw.
How to Cook Boba Pearls at Home
- To start, fill a large pot halfway full with water and bring to a boil. If desired, add liquid sweetener of choice to infuse some sweetness into the tapioca balls as they cook. I like to use stevia or monk fruit drops, or you could use simple syrup if preferred.
- Once boiling, add uncooked black tapioca pearls. Lightly stir until they begin to float, then cover and boil for about 3 minutes. (You’ll need ⅓ cup boba pearls per 2 servings of homemade bubble tea, so cook as many servings as you plan to use immediately.)
- After boiling, remove from the heat and drain the boba pearls. I prefer to use a slotted spoon to gently remove them from the hot water. Finally, transfer cooked tapioca pearls to a bowl and cover with room temperature water until you’re ready to serve.
- To serve, add a few tablespoons of cooked boba pearls into a cup, pour homemade bubble milk tea on top, and serve with a boba straw!
Basic Homemade Bubble Tea Recipe
Each homemade boba tea recipe that I designed follows the same basic formula. This isn’t any kind of traditional or authentic boba ingredients list, but a simple framework that you can use to come up with your own bubble tea recipe flavors at home!
Keep in mind, each of my recipes yields 2 servings. That means you distribute the ⅓ cup of cooked boba pearls into 2 cups, followed by the blended milk tea mixture. (Of course, you can serve up larger boba drinks with more boba pearls, the nutrition will just be different!) For a single-serving boba drink, use the amounts below to come up with your own homemade boba flavors.
Basic Single-Serving Bubble Milk Tea Recipe
- ~1 cup milk tea base (milk of choice, blended with fruit + flavorings)
- sweetener to taste, if desired
- 2-3 Tbsp cooked boba pearls
5 Bubble Tea Recipe Ideas – How to Make Bubble Tea at Home!
Below, you can explore the 5 homemade bubble tea recipe ideas that I came up with for your inspiration. They’re all made with simple, nutritious ingredients and no added sugars or sweeteners—unless you want to add some! Follow them as strictly or loosely as you’d like, adjusting ingredients to suit your tastes. Or, just use them as a framework and swap out the ingredients entirely to create new flavors!
To see how these boba tea recipes are made, watch my DIY Boba / Bubble Tea Recipes video!
For more boba milk tea ideas:
- Brown Sugar Boba Tea
- Taro Milk Tea with Boba
- Strawberry Boba Tea Recipe
- Matcha Milk Tea with Boba
Strawberry PB&J Bubble Tea Recipe
Classic peanut butter and jelly flavor, blended up into a tasty strawberry bubble tea! Fresh, ripe strawberries make this drink especially delicious, and can cut down on the sugar or sweetener that you need. A naturally bright, vibrant and clean homemade boba tea recipe.
Mango Green Tea Boba Tea Recipe
This boba tea recipe is SO simple—check out how to make bubble tea with just iced green tea, milk, and fresh mango! Perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Feel free to get creative with your favorite ingredients!
Iced Coffee Boba Tea Recipe
Take your summer iced coffee to the next level by turning it into a decadent boba tea drink! If you can find pecan milk, I think it makes this coffee bubble tea especially tasty and creamy, but any type of milk will do.
Matcha & Avocado Bubble Tea Recipe
The antioxidant power of matcha meets creamy avocado in this irresistible boba tea recipe! It’s rich, refreshing, and loaded with nutrients. Learn how to make bubble tea with matcha powder and fresh avocado for a bright, vibrant sippable treat!
Banana Coconut Boba Tea Recipe
This boba milk tea is bursting with creamy, tropical flavor! Use a ripe banana, and you don’t even need to add any sweetener. I personally think the best way to make bubble tea is with a frozen banana—for an extra thick, creamy texture!