Gadget Friday: Make Your Own Bubble Tea

Chances are you’ve tried (or at least heard about) bubble tea, also known as boba tea. It started in Taiwan, and is a huge hit in parts of the U.S. – especially among teens and twenty-somethings.

While there are multiple theories on how it originated, the most credible one is that it started in a teahouse in Taichung, Taiwan in 1988 when one of the employees added tapioca pearls to iced Assam tea. Since then, it has spread to Japan, China and South Korea, and has become a favorite after-school treat for Asian children.

We witnessed this passion first-hand on a trip to Seattle while enjoying a mid-afternoon bubble tea in a shop in the International District. All of a sudden, a huge group of pre-teens flooded in, eager to get their beverages and hit the arcade in the back of the shop.

As fans of bubble tea for over a decade, we’ve enjoyed it in many variations, including with chocolate pudding cubes instead of tapioca pearls (at that shop in Seattle), or pineapple jelly cubes at a little place in southern California.

Now even if you don’t have a shop in your hometown that serves this beverage, you can make it at home using the recipe and gadgets featured in this video. ~ Marlys

Bubble Tea

Course Drinks
Cuisine Asian
Keyword boba, bubble tea, tapioca pearls
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Author Alan & Marlys Arnold - Adventures with Tea


To make the Tapioca Pearls:

  • 8 cups Water
  • 1 cup Tapioca pearls boba

To make the Sugar Mixture:

  • 2 Tbls Brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 1/3 cup Hot water

To make each drink:

  • 2 Tbls Milk Tea Powder part of the Starter Kit featured below
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Memories tea brewed strong (or your favorite flavor)
  • 1 1/2 cup Ice


To make the Tapioca Pearls:

  1. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large stock pan, then add 1 cup of the dry tapioca pearls. Stir for a few seconds, then cover and allow to boil for 5-8 minutes. Uncover and stir at least twice while cooking.
  2. Once the pearls have cooked, turn off the heat and move them to a different spot to cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Use the wire scoop to remove the tapioca from the water and place them in a colander. Rinse carefully in cold water to remove the residue.
  4. Again using the wire scoop, place the pearls in a bowl filled with the sugar syrup mixture (directions below) and allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes. Stir a couple of times as necessary to prevent sticking. When prepared correctly, the pearls should be shiny and smooth with a slightly chewy texture.
  5. The pearls are now ready to use, or you can cover them and leave on counter for up to six hours.

To make the Sugar Syrup Mixture:

  1. Combine brown sugar, honey and hot water in a small mixing bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Set aside until you're ready to soak the pearls.

To assemble the drink:

  1. Use the wire scoop to place about one inch of pearls in the bottom in each serving glass.
  2. Combine Milk Tea Powder and freshly-brewed tea in a metal shaker cup. Shake until the powder is fully dissolved. (That's why the tea must still be hot, so it dissolves quickly.) Add the ice and shake vigorously. Then pour the mixture into the glass, over the tapioca pearls. Put in an oversized straw and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

No powder? No problem!

Instead of using milk powder, you can use half-&-half (or your choice of milk) to make your drink.

Here's what you need to do a bit differently:

  1. Make a double-recipe of the Sugar Mixture, then set aside half of it to use as the sweetener for your drink.
  2. When you assemble the drink, replace the powder with 3 tablespoons of half-&-half, plus 3 tablespoons of the syrup.

Here’s what we recommend:

Bubble Tea Set

If you’ve been thinking about making bubble tea at home, this set is perfect for you! You get several handy tools: a 16-ounce drink shaker, a 1-ounce measuring scoop, and a strainer to scoop up the tapioca pearls – which there’s also a huge, 6-pound bag included! In addition you’ll have a bag of milk tea powder and a pack of the jumbo-size straws that you’ll need for the oversized boba. Even if you’re not sure you’ll be making that much bubble tea, it’s totally worth the price just for the tools alone.

Don’t worry too much about following the instructions included with the kit – they’re written for making the entire bag at once! That’s great if you’re serving bubble tea at a party, but in case you just want to make 4-6 drinks for your family, we’ve included our more realistic-sized recipe for you here.

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