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Three glasses of bubble tea: classic, brown sugar and matcha
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5 from 4 votes

Bubble Tea Three Ways (Boba Tea, 珍珠奶茶)

Making bubble tea (Boba) at home is easy! This recipe introduces three popular types: the classic version, the brown sugar version and the matcha version.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time23 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Taiwanese, Tea
Servings: 3 drinks (1 for each version)
Author: Wei Guo

Ingredients

For the bubbles/boba (3 portions)

  • ¾ cup instant tapioca pearls about 120g (see note 1)

For the classic version

  • ½ tablespoon loose-leaf black tea, or 1 black tea bag
  • 1 cup hot water about 240ml
  • Cow’s milk, or almond/soy milk to taste
  • Sweetener of your choice to taste (see note 2 & 4)
  • Ice cubes optional

For the brown sugar version

  • 1 cup cow’s milk, or almond/soy milk about 240ml
  • ½ tablespoon  loose-leaf black tea, or 1 black tea bag
  • 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • Ice cubes optional

For the matcha version

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 cup cow’s milk, or almond/soy milk about 240ml
  • Sweetener of your choice to taste (see note 3 & 4)
  • Ice cubes optional

Instructions

Cook the Tapioca Pearls

  • Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Add instant tapioca pearls. Once they come up to the surface, cover with a lid and leave to boil for 3 mins over medium heat.
  • Turn off the heat. Leave to sit for a further 3 mins (still with the lid on).
  • Transfer the pearls into a bowl filled with cold water. Drain well once cooled.
  • If not using the pearls straight away, mix them with a little syrup or honey to prevent sticking. Store at room temperature for no longer than 4 hours (do not refrigerate).

The Classic Version

  • Prepare the tea by steeping loose-leaf black tea (or the tea bag) in hot water. Leave to cool naturally.
  • Put the cooked pearls in a serving glass. Remove tea leaves (or the tea bag) then pour the cooled tea into the glass. Add sweetener of your choice, milk and ice cubes if using. Stir well and serve. 

The Brown Sugar Version

  • Heat up milk on the hob until small bubbles appear (do not boil). You may also heat it in a microwave for 2 mins.
  • Add the tea. Leave to steep and cool naturally.
  • Put dark brown sugar into a pan. Add drained pearls. Cook over low heat until the sugar turns into thick, foamy syrup.
  • Spoon the pearls, along with the syrup, into a serving glass. Tilt the glass to move the pearls allowing the syrup to stain the glass. Pour in the cooled milk tea. Add ice cubes if using. Stir then serve.

The Matcha Version

  • Sift matcha tea powder then add hot water. Whisk to achieve a smooth paste. Pour in milk and stir well.
  • Put the cooked tapioca pearls into a serving glass. Pour in the matcha milk tea, sweetener and ice cubes if using. Mix well and serve.

Notes

1. You may also use traditional (non-instant) tapioca pearls which require about an hour to cook. Follow the instructions on the package.
2. Sweeteners for the classic version: If using sugar or honey, add it to the tea when it’s hot. If using syrup or other sweeteners, you can add it when the tea is either hot or cold.
3. Sweeteners for the matcha version: Since the matcha milk tea is prepared cold, it’s better to use syrup or other sweeteners that can easily dissolve in cold liquid. See note below for homemade simple syrup. 
4. Make your own syrup: Heat 1 part of sugar (white, light or dark brown) with 1 part of water over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Transfer to a clean, dry jar/bottle and store in the fridge for up to a month.