A Classic Iced Bubble Tea You Can Make at Home

So when I was at my local Asian market, I found these tapioca bubbles for bubble tea! So exciting, right? the only other bag of bubble tea bubbles I have in the house is a 5 pound bag that is vacuumed sealed and I’m a little afraid to open it. Now that the Panda Mart has these, I can show you a simple recipe for making bubble tea that took me right back to China.

Here’s the thing about me. I loooooove Asian culture. Back 5 years ago (five years too long!) I took a short trip to China. Something about the food and the culture made me feel like I belonged there. I get that sort of feeling every time I go to the Asian grocery. It’s like going home and your family doesn’t speak the same language as you. It is so beautifully confusing.

I digress!

Another time I get that feeling is when I drink bubble tea. Bubble tea is traditionally black tea and milk with little tapioca pearls, also called bubbles or bobas. It has many flavor variations, but I enjoy iced milk tea with a little bit of sweet, just like I had at KFC in Shanghai! That is how I will be making it today, so if you want to try this out, feel free to adjust the cream or sweetness to your liking.

The problem with getting bubble tea in where I live is that it is not as prolific as it was in China. And when I do find it, it’s $5.00 for a small and it ends up being the powder drink! It’s basically a cup of expensive disappointment.

A few important notes that I need to share with you if you are planning to make bubble tea

One, do not make the bubbles until you are ready to pour the tea over. If they are prepared too early, then they will be a sticky, slimy texture on the outside and have a dry, crumbly center on the inside. Not something you want in your bubble tea.

Two, have a thermometer in your water while you’re brewing your tea. The thermometer is definitely a good tool to have because you don’t have to worry about unintentionally burning your tea.


I had an instant read thermometer clipped onto my pot.

Three, do yourself a favor and get a wide straw for maximum enjoyment. This will allow the bubbles to come up the straw instead of them getting stuck at the bottom of your straw or having to fish them out with a spoon.

Four, the best part of this recipe is that most of the prep time is the tea chilling in the fridge, but the tea can easily be made and chilled overnight and the bubbles be prepared the next day.

Now if you have had powder-based bubble tea in the past, prepare to be amazed. Prepare to never go back to the powder ever again!



Classic Bubble Tea

  • Yield about 3 drinks
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Goods you need

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. Darjeeling (or preferred black tea)
  • ¾ milk
  • 1 cup black tapioca pearls
  • ¼ cup sugar

Let's get to it!

  1. Bring water to just under boiling, or about 205°F. Place tea in water and allow to steep in the water for 4-5 minutes. The tea will be very strong.

  2. Take the pot off the burner and strain out leaves into a medium-sized container. Add sugar and milk and stir until sugar as dissolved.

  3. Allow container to reach room temperature. Refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours.

  4. When tea is completely chilled, prepare your bubbles. Follow directions on the back of the package.

  5. when bubbles are cooled, place about a third of the bubbles into a tall glass. Add ice to desired amount and pour tea over. Adjust sweetness and creaminess to taste.

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