The ABCs of Chinese Food: How to make bubble tea at home


Brianna Tang

Bubble tea made at home with black tea and almond milk.

Brianna Tang, Assistant A&E Editor

As a bubble tea addict, I could not be surviving this quarantine without it. Since the closest Kung Fu Tea in Natick temporarily shut down due to Coronavirus, I have turned to making my own drinks at home. 

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If you have never had bubble tea before, it is a Taiwanese drink containing some type of tea, milk and sugar. There are many different toppings you can put in bubble tea, but the most common is tapioca pearls, also known as tapioca balls. Tapioca balls are small, chewy, and typically mixed with brown sugar for flavor. 

Tapioca pearls can be made from scratch using brown sugar, tapioca flour and water. There are many recipes online for making the pearls from scratch. However, I have instant boba pearls at home which only take five minutes! The brand I use is WuFuYuan which can be purchased on Amazon or eBay, and in my opinion they taste just as good. 

To make the instant tapioca pearls, boil water in a pot and then throw in around two handfuls of pearls for one serving. The pearls are ready once they float to the surface, which usually takes around three to four minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover the pot to let the boba sit for an additional two minutes or so. 

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Once those two minutes have passed, take out the boba and mix it in a small dish with a spoonful of brown sugar or honey. This step is very important since the tapioca pearls alone don’t have any flavor. 

Now for the milk tea, there are a variety of options and flavors . If you want flavored milk teas, there are many different instant powders on Amazon which are super convenient. One of my favorite instant tea mixes is this Thai Tea powder. If you’ve never had Thai Tea before, it’s hard to describe the taste but it’s sweet, creamy and an orange color. The simplest way is to use a tea bag or two, which most people already have at home. Make sure to let the tea cool and add a tablespoon of sugar.

After making the pearls and tea, it is time to assemble the drink. First, add the boba pearls to the cup. Then add ice and pour in the tea and any milk of your choosing. The ratio of tea and milk can be adjusted for personal preferences, and I usually use a 2:1 ratio of tea to milk. The ratio also depends on how strong your tea is, for example if you are brewing with tea leaves versus a tea bag or using more than one tea bag, you will definitely need less tea. If you want a stronger tea taste, you can add less milk and more tea, and vice versa. Stir, and that’s it! Enjoy your bubble tea made at home.