How to Make Bubble Tea at Home

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I’ve picked up some of my favorite recipes while traveling. I tried strawberry gelato in Europe and had to try making it when I got home. I first encountered boba tea, also called bubble tea, last year while traveling and was immediately intrigued by the idea. 

Despite what the bubbly name might imply, this isn’t sparkling tea. Bubble tea is a sweetened tea with lots of milk and large tapioca pearls (bubbles). It is typically served iced and requires an extra-wide straw so the tapioca pearls will fit through. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and is also called boba.

I think I’m behind the curve on this one because bubble tea seems to have gained widespread popularity without me knowing about it! Once I’d tried it though, I started imagining all the possibilities of making it at home. I knew I had to give it a try.

What Are Tapioca Pearls Anyway?

Tapioca pearls are balls made from tapioca starch. Tapioca starch is a refined flour made from cassava root. I use cassava flour occasionally in grain-free baking or in recipes that call for “breading” a protein before frying or baking, such as my coconut shrimp with piña colada sauce.

Tapioca starch is similar to cassava flour but more refined. Cassava flour uses the whole cassava root, while tapioca starch does not. It’s like the difference between whole wheat bread and white bread or brown rice and white rice. The cassava flour has more fiber. For tapioca pearls though, you don’t want a fibrous texture, so tapioca flour is used.

Tapioca pearls by themselves don’t have a lot of flavor. They’re added to the tea strictly for texture. They’re kind of bouncy and slippery. It feels a little like drinking round gummies through a straw, but that’s part of the appeal.

Where to Buy Pearls and What Kind

I buy my tapioca pearls online. They’re sold dry and uncooked in bags. It’s super easy to cook them. Just boil the dry pearls in water until they are soft. There should be instructions on the package. It is possible to make them from scratch, but in my opinion, this is one that I prefer to buy versus make.

The most commonly used tapioca pearls are black. The idea is that the black makes them more visible in the drink. However, there are more and more options becoming available. Here are a few options that I’ve tried:

How to Make Bubble Tea at Home

When I first tried bubble tea, I didn’t ask too many questions. I didn’t really want to know what was in it and just wanted to enjoy trying it. But when I got home, I decided to do some research.

Unsurprisingly, I found out that often the ingredients contain hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners. And so much sugar! There wasn’t even a place near where I live to buy boba tea, even if I wanted to. 

Curious about what my kids would think of it, I started experimenting with making my own. After some trial and error, I figured out how to make a healthier version at home. My kids are still divided on the texture, with three of them loving it and three of them declaring it feels like eating boogers. Regardless, it was a fun experiment.

Basic ingredients you’ll need:

  • Tea: Black tea is the original, but any kind of tea, matcha, or even juice works. Since boba tea is served iced, you’ll need to brew your tea and then let it chill before proceeding.
    • To save time, Pique tea is a great way to cold brew the tea and have it ready to go in seconds (plus, their teas are awesome). 
  • Milk: Or cream. Any kind you like. Taro milk is becoming a popular option. 
  • Sweetener: Optional, but any kind and quantity you’d like; honey, maple syrup, simple syrup, stevia, etc.
  • Tapioca pearls 
  • Ice

There are dozens of ways to customize to your preferences, which makes it a lot of fun! One of my kids’ favorites was a strawberry version that didn’t even contain tea. I just pureed strawberries with milk and a little honey and added the pearls. 

Note: Tapioca pearls do not maintain their texture well once cooked. You can make the tea in advance and chill it, but wait to make the tapioca pearls until you are ready to use them.

Here’s the basic recipe:

Bubble Tea Recipe

A fun recipe for bubble tea (also called boba) you can make at home with sweetened tea, milk, and tapioca pearls.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Calories 220kcal
Author Katie Wells




  • cups tea (brewed and cooled)
  • ½ cup tapioca pearls
  • 2 TBSP honey (or maple syrup or other sweetener, or to taste)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ice


Brew the tea

  • Brew the tea.
  • Chill until cold.

Make the tapioca pearls

  • Follow the instructions on the package to make the pearls.
  • Mix the cooked pearls with enough of the sweetener you are using to coat them. This helps preserve the texture.

Assemble the drinks

  • Mix together the cooled tea, sweetener of choice, and milk in a large glass.
  • Divide the cooked tapioca pearls evenly between two additional glasses.
  • Add ice.
  • Pour half of the sweetened milk tea mixture over the ice in each glass.
  • Add boba straws and serve immediately.


Nutrition Facts
Bubble Tea Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 220 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 20mg1%
Potassium 121mg3%
Carbohydrates 53g18%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 20g22%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 49IU1%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


You can make and chill the tea in advance, but tapioca pearls do not keep their texture well over time, so don’t make them until you’re ready to use them.
To up the protein, add one scoop of collagen per serving before the tea cools.
If you have a fruit-flavored tea, you can also add a scoop of Just Thrive prebiotic powder or Kion aminos for an extra boost.

Check out this article for more detailed info on where bubble tea came from.

Have you ever made bubble tea? What’s your favorite flavor?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


One response to “How to Make Bubble Tea at Home”

  1. Daria Avatar

    5 stars
    My granddaughter loves boba tea. What would you suggest if one wanted to flavor the tea?….watermelon, mango, coconut, etc.

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