Boba Milk Tea Recipe

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Boba Milk Tea in 2 glasses

Boba Milk Tea, also known as Bubble tea, is a drink born in Taiwan in the 1980s. The drink gets its name from the gelatinous balls made from Tapioca flour from the Cassava root. The starch from these root vegetables is made into a dough, shaped into balls, boiled, and soaked in simple sugar syrup. The drink is then assembled with a bottom layer of boba balls or pearls in syrup, milk, and then traditionally Black tea to top it off. They then used an oversized straw to stir the mixture together before taking a sip and enjoying the tea while you munch on the chewy balls. The Taiwanese phrase 'Q' refers to the gummy, chewy texture of the balls. Thanks to Travel and Food influencers before Bubble tea took over social media. It has been a staple in Taiwanese communities worldwide. This recipe is for the curious food adventurer who is willing to try something new or recreate something they had on their own travel experiences. We will also share how to make different Boba Drink variations for more options.

What is the difference between boba tea and milk tea?

Milk tea is simply brewed black tea with milk inside, whereas boba tea is milk tea with tapioca pearls and simple syrup added to it. 

What's the best boba flavor?

There are so many flavors of boba, ranging from green tea, rose tea, passion fruit, honeydew, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, coconut and the list goes on. You'll have to try them all to see which one is your favorite flavor. 

Can kids drink boba?

Yes, kids can drink boba. It's best to choose a flavor without caffeine like strawberry or taro for kids.  

Is boba good for weight loss?

Boba is good for a sweet treat every once in a while, due to its high sugar content as well as over 250 calories per serving. You could substitute the sugar with a sugar alternative or have it unsweetened to save on the calories making this a healthier choice. 

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Time & Serves

Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
60 mins


Boba Pearls
  • 90 grams Tapioca Flour

  • 50 grams Muscovado Sugar

  • 200 ml Water

  • Extra Tapioca Flour for kneading and shaping into pearls

  • Extra Water for boiling and ice water for cooling Boba Pearls

Simple Syrup
  • 100 grams Muscovado Sugar

  • 100 ml Water

  • 1/4 teaspoon Tapioca Flour

  • 8 ounces Black Tea pre-brewed

  • 8 ounces Milk of Choice


Boba Pearls

Prepare a clean workstation and dust with the extra tapioca flour set aside for kneading and shaping into pearls.

Overview of floured countertop

Into the deep nonstick skillet, mix the water and sugar with the spatula until completely dissolved.

Arial of a pot with sugar dissolving with water

Add the tapioca flour to the sugar-water mixture and stir until completely dissolved.

Tapioca flour being add to a pot of sugar water

Place the pan on very low heat and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. It will take some time, so be patient. The low and slow methods will be to your benefit as the ingredients come together.

Pot of tapioca being heated on a burner

Once the mixture starts to pull away from the pan and thicken into a gooey gummy, sticky paste-like dough, remove from the heat and scrape onto your dusted work surface.

Tapioca being formed in a pot using a spatula

Knead until the dough is soft and round, then section into quarters: one for working with while the other three quarters are stored in a ziplock bag or covered in plastic wrap to stay moist.

Tapioca dough cut in four on a floured countertop

Roll the dough out into snakes. Then cut, roll into 8-9 mm sized pearls, and place into the bowl of extra tapioca flour. Periodically toss the pearls around in the flour to coat them and prevent them from sticking together.

Snakes of tapioca dough being formed

When all the dough has been used to make the pearls, and they have all been coated in flour, use the sieve or strainer to remove them from the flour and gently remove any excess flour by lightly tossing the pearls.

Boba dough being cut and formed into pearls

Once you have finished making all the pearls, you can continue the boba cooking and syrup making or place them into a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer until ready to make the final boba tea.

Boba Cooking

Using a 2-3 quart saucepan, fill 3/4 of the way with water and bring to a rolling boil.

Overview of a pot of boiling water on a stovetop

Place the boba pearls into the water and lightly toss with the slotted spoon to prevent them from clumping and sticking together.

Boba pearls being added to a pot of boiling water

Once the balls float to the surface, turn the heat down to a low simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

Boba pearls being simmered in a pot

After simmering, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let the pearls rest in hot water for another 15 minutes.

Overview of a pot of boba pearls with a lid on it

Using the slotted spoon, remove the pearls from the hot water and place them into the bowl of ice water.

Boba pearls being removed from a pot using a slotted spoon

Toss the pearls around in the cold water mixture to break up any clumps and allow them to rest in the cold water until ready to add to the simple syrup.

Sideview of boba pearls being added to a bowl of cold water
Simple Syrup

Into a saucepan, add the water and sugar and mix until completely dissolved.

Overview of sugar and water in a pot

Add the 1/4 teaspoon of tapioca flour and stir to dissolve.

Tapioca flour being added to sugar water

Place the saucepan onto a medium to high heat and stir continuously until the mixture becomes a thick syrup-like texture before turning the heat down to low.

Pot of tapioca sugar being boiled on a burner

Using the slotted spoon, remove the pearls from the ice bath and place them into the simple syrup, stirring to combine on a low heat for 3-5 minutes.

Boba pearls being added to a pot of simple syrup

When the pearls are coated in the syrup, and the texture is smooth and slightly thick, remove from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.

Side view of boba pearls in simple syrup cooling in a pot
Boba Tea Assembly

Take a scoop of cool Boba Pearls and syrup and place it into the bottom of the 20 oz glass. Then, swirl the glass to coat the lower 2/3 of the glass with the syrup for that photo-op moment.

Boba pearls added to the bottom of a glass

Add the 8 oz of milk and then top with the 8 oz of Black Tea. Take your social media pictures at this time, so you can show the layers of Boba Pearls, Milk, and Tea.

Tea and milk being added to a glass of boba pearls

Use your straw to stir all the ingredients together in the glass before sipping and munching your Boba Tea. Be careful when sucking the pearls through the straw as they could fly out and become a choking hazard. 

Sideview of two glasses of boba milk tea with a straw
Boba Drink Variations

Exchange the muscovado sugar with white granulated sugar.

Exchange water with fruit juice or flavored tea.

Exchange black tea for any other tea, coffee, or anything that will go well with milk.

Exchange milk for flavored milk, fruit juice, flavored tea, yogurt, or a smoothie.

Be creative and use your imagination: Guava-flavored Boba Pearls with pineapple juice for a guava pine bubble Juice. Mint flavored Boba Pearls with lemon juice for a bubble mint lemonade. Use the Boba Pearls as a garnish or toppings for other desserts.

Rachael Ottier Hart

Join Rachael on a global culinary journey. With a passion for travel and diverse cuisines, she crafts recipes that weave flavors, scents, and stories into each dish, igniting your wanderlust with every bite.

More posts by Rachael Ottier Hart

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Rachael Ottier Hart

Join Rachael on a global culinary journey. With a passion for travel and diverse cuisines, she crafts recipes that weave flavors, scents, and stories into each dish, igniting your wanderlust with every bite.

More posts by Rachael Ottier Hart