Homemade Boba (Bubble Tea)

I first tried bubble tea while visiting a friend in New York City. When I got home, I found a local place that made it, and my son Max and I quickly became hooked. We live in Kansas City, so we can’t get it on every street corner, but there are a couple of places in town that serve it. It used to be a special treat we’d get when we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant before going gluten free. (For the local peeps, our 2 favorites were Bo Lings and Blue Koi. Best of KC for serious Chinese food lovers.) We stopped frequenting that restaurant after we cut gluten, and after a while, we started having boba withdrawals, big time.

After a little research, I discovered that it’s incredibly easy (and fun!) to make at home. And honestly, it tastes even better, ’cause you can use real fruit to sweeten and flavor it, rather than the fake-y, overly sweet syrups they use in restaurants.

(Excuse the pics. They were taken on my old cell phone. I didn’t originally intend them for publication.)

Here’s what you need:

Tapioca pearls– black or green (we used green)
Tea– black, red, or green
Milk or milk sub of choice (we used coconut)
Sweetener– whatever you like: sugar, honey, stevia, agave, etc. (we used honey)
Fresh or frozen fruit (optional)– we used frozen mango, thawed
Bubble tea straws

I found these and the bubble tea straws at a local Asian market.

1. Brew your favorite tea at full strength or a little stronger stronger, sweeten it (not too sweet if you plan to add fruit), let it cool.

2. While it’s cooling, cook (boil) tapioca pearls according to package directions. Honestly, decoding the Chinese to English instructions is half the fun!

The tapioca pearl instructions were clearer than this, though not half as entertaining!

This is what the tapioca pearls look like after being boiled. Plump and shiny.

3. When the tea is cool, blend it with milk and fruit. We used equal parts tea and coconut milk, then added mango to taste.

It tasted as delicious as it looked.

4. Put the cooked tapioca pearls in the bottom of the glass, add some ice, then pour your tea mixture over it. And viola, Boba tea!

What a wonderful treat!

It was so easy to make, and the perfect creative kitchen project for my son and I to do together.

Max took a pic of me enjoying a glass. (Yay, no makeup!)

Max is a huge bubble tea fan. He’s the one who chose mango as the fruit, and it was a good call!

And here’s Max with his glass, which he says is “coconutty, chewy, sweet, mangoey deliciousness!”

Don’t let the exoticness of this drink intimidate you. It’s really easy to make, and will impress the heck out of your friends.


4 thoughts on “Homemade Boba (Bubble Tea)

    • If you can’t find it locally, they do sell it on Amazon. I’m sure you’ll be able to find it. The tapioca pearls don’t have much of a flavor. They absorb the flavor of the drink. They are really, really chewy, like, squeaky chewy, almost like cheese curds if you’ve tried them. I recommend finding out if there’s anyone local who sells bubble tea before you make it, so you have a point of reference. I read that it’s gaining popularity all over the world. They used to only sell it in Thailand, then in the major cities only. Be warned: It’s addictive!


      • Boba tea came from Taiwan, not Thailand. It spread to the USA via the Chinese community in California. Although its been many years since its been in the US, its still very popular among Chinese Americans in CA. They still drink it almost daily. Kinda like going to Starbucks. 😀

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