How to make quali-tea boba

Aug. 17, 2022, 2:04 p.m. | By Sophia Li | 1 year, 9 months ago

Prepare tasty pearl milk tea at home

Bubble tea is a quick and easy drink to make at home. Photo courtesy of Sophia Li.

Boba, also known as bubble tea, is a tea-based beverage with toppings such as chewy tapioca pearls. It’s sweet and creamy, can be enjoyed hot or cold and can be customized in so many ways. Ordering boba can become quite pricey though, so this simple recipe will be a refresher for both you and your wallet. 

Originating in 1980s Taiwan, boba has been sold by street vendors across East Asia for decades. When I’d visit China annually as a child, my grandparents would always buy boba for me at local shops. Now, with the rise of Asian influence on American culture, bubble tea has become increasingly mainstream across the United States. Many big franchises like Kung Fu Tea and Gong Cha have opened stores abroad, allowing people from all over the world to try the Taiwanese drink. 

Contributing to its popularity, boba is something very personal. Customers can make plenty of decisions for their perfect beverage. Do you like hot or cold drinks? What’s your tea preference? And if you don’t like tea, what fruit juice is your favorite? Maybe you’ll like a slush? You can even pile on toppings, though at a cost. 

My go-to order has always been a cold cup of pearl milk tea. It’s simple, yet extremely delicious and rich. After discovering my love for boba, I learned how quick and easy it is to make at home. Plus, you don’t need to worry about the local boba barista getting your order wrong. Below is my pearl milk tea recipe based on a Taste of Home recipe.

Pearl Milk Tea Recipe (5-10 minutes)


  • Instant tapioca pearls
  • Tea bags or loose leaf tea
  • Sugar or sweetener of choice (I recommend honey or maple syrup)
  • Milk or milk alternative (I recommend coconut milk)
  • Flavorings of choice (optional)


1. Prepare the tapioca pearls

Tapioca pearls are the “bubbles” of bubble tea. While you can make your own tapioca pearls, I recommend buying instant tapioca pearls from your local Asian supermarket. Follow the instructions on the packaging – you’ll likely have to boil or soak the pearls. Then, strain the tapioca and transfer it to a small bowl. 

2. Soak the pearls with syrup

This step is optional but important to maintain the pearls’ soft and chewy texture. In the small bowl, pour sugar syrup or liquid sweetener over the tapioca. To create a sugar syrup, pour equal parts sugar and water into a saucepan and stir on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let the pearls soak for at least 5 minutes before using. 

3. Brew the tea

It’s important that you brew a stronger tea than you would regularly drink. You can use almost any tea, but my personal favorite teas for this recipe are black tea and Earl Grey. If you love matcha, you can use matcha green tea powder instead. Put 2-3 tea bags or 1-2 teaspoons of loose leaf tea in a cup of just-boiled water. Let the tea steep for at least 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags or strain the tea. 

4. Add sweetener and flavorings

Add sugar or sweetener to your tea to taste. At this step, add any other flavorings you want to the drink. You can add vanilla extract, coconut extract, caramel syrup or whatever your heart desires!

5. Mix and serve

Place your tapioca pearls in the bottom of a tall glass. Pour your tea halfway up the glass and fill the rest with milk. Give the glass a stir until well combined, and serve with a spoon or boba straw.

And that’s it! Easy, isn’t it? Next time you’re craving boba, you can make it yourself in under 10 minutes. Double or triple the recipe to make for your friends – I’m sure your best-teas will love it too.

Last updated: May 15, 2023, 9:15 a.m.

Sophia Li. Hey, it's Sophia, SCO's blog editor and fact checker! I love eating hot pot and any other spicy foods. More »

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