Homemade Bubble Tea Recipe / Boba Tea Recipe, 5 Ways
How to Make Boba at Home with Black Pearl Tapioca Balls!
Learn how to make bubble tea at home for a healthier (& cheaper) cup of boba tea! I’ve got 5 boba tea recipe ideas to share, plus tips for making your own milk tea flavors.
If you’ve never had bubble tea before—also known as boba tea or bubble milk tea or pearl milk tea—it’s a deliciously sweet drink with chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom. Usually, the drink is milk and/or fruit based, it may or may not contain actual tea, and it’s always served with a thick straw for sipping up those yummy boba pearls.
Personally, I LOVE sipping on a bubble tea for a fun treat! But, like most treats, boba tea isn’t a fuel-filled, everyday kind of drink...because it’s usually laden with sugar. So, I’ve had TONS of requests for a healthy bubble recipe or at least a healthy-ish boba tea recipe, and I decided that I had to give homemade bubble tea a try.
I’ll show you how to make bubble tea at home, so YOU are in control of the ingredients in your boba milk tea. Then, you can check out my 5 lower sugar bubble tea recipe / boba tea recipe ideas for some flavor inspiration!
What is Boba Tea? Authentic Boba Tea Ingredients
Whether you’re new to boba tea or a total bubble tea fanatic, not everyone knows what boba is exactly. You know it’s all kinds of delicious, but where’d boba tea come from and what are those boba balls made of?
Boba tea or bubble tea (same drink, slightly different name) originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, then started gaining popularity in the U.S. in the 1990s. Traditionally, boba milk tea has been a tea-based drink, usually shaken with milk and/or fruit of some kind for flavor. And of course, it’s served in a cup with a thick straw and those chewy, black tapioca pearls on the bottom.
Sometimes bubble milk tea has actual tea, sometimes it’s just a fruity milk base without any tea, but one thing seems to be constant: boba drinks are irresistibly sweet. Typically, the milk tea base is the source of all the sugar—some drinks with as much as 30-60g of sugar, and upwards of 500 calories.
That’s why I wanted to figure out how to make bubble tea at home, so I could try my hand at some healthier bubble tea recipe ideas. So, I’ve designed each boba tea recipe below to be much lower in sugar, and you have the option to not add any sugar or sweetener at all!
Just keep in mind, even though these healthy bubble tea recipes are healthier, boba is still a treat to enjoy in moderation because of the boba pearls...
What are Boba Tapioca Pearls?
In the context of boba tea, the term “boba” generally translates to “bubbles” or “big pearls,” referring to the chewy black pearls that make boba the unique drink that it is. Boba is made from the starch of the cassava root, also known as tapioca starch. It’s rich in carbohydrates but is stripped of most other nutrients—meaning boba pearls are essentially empty carbs.
Granted, boba pearls generally contain minimal-to-no added sugars, just loads of carbs in the form of starch. That’s why bubble tea pearls are very chewy but sort of flavorless. And, for those who are gluten conscious, boba pearls are gluten free! But the point is, the boba balls just aren’t providing our bodies with any real nutrients or fuel.
So, in ⅓ cup boba pearls, there are around 100 calories, 25g of carbs, 2g of fiber, and that’s pretty much it. For that reason, no boba tea recipe is ever going to be truly fuel-filled like a smoothie you’d drink for breakfast. Sure, you can do without the boba pearls altogether, but let’s be real—boba milk tea without boba is just plain old milk tea! (And what’s the fun in that?)
Ultimately, learning how to make bubble tea at home is your best bet for a healthy boba option. You can still enjoy the chewy, starchy, not-so-nutritious (albeit delicious) tapioca pearls, but served in a much cleaner, lower sugar milk tea! Moral of the story: enjoy these recipes thoroughly, just in moderation.
Where to Find Bubble Milk Tea Pearls
Now that we’re in agreement—a good homemade bubble tea recipe NEEDS some actual boba pearls—let’s walk through how to make boba pearls at home. To clarify, I won’t be showing you how to make these pearls from scratch, but I’ll show you how to cook black tapioca pearls to use in a homemade boba tea recipe.
I bought my black tapioca pearls online, and they conveniently came with a set of classic boba straws! These are the boba tea cups that I used, which I also purchased online but separately. You can use any cups and straws that you like, just know that those tapioca pearls will be far too thick for a standard size straw.
How to Make Boba Pearls at Home
To start, fill a large pot about halfway full with water and bring it to a boil. If desired, you sweeten your water with liquid sweetener drops—I like to use stevia or monk fruit drops. It’s optional, but it’s a nice way to infuse some sweetness into the tapioca balls as they cook.
Then, when the water is boiling, add in your uncooked black tapioca pearls—as much as you plan to use immediately. Each homemade bubble tea recipe below calls for ⅓ cup boba pearls, but I just cooked my entire bag of tapioca pearls since I was preparing multiple boba drinks. Lightly stir the boba pearls until they begin to float, then cover and boil for about 3 minutes.
After boiling, remove the pot from the heat and drain the boba pearls. You can pour them into a colander, but I prefer to use a slotted spoon to gently remove them from the hot water.
Finally, transfer the cooked tapioca pearls in a bowl and cover with room temperature water until you’re ready to use them. (This will prevent them from sticking together.) When you’re ready to serve, add a few tablespoons of cooked boba pearls into a cup, pour homemade bubble milk tea on top, and serve with a boba straw!
Basic Bubble Tea Recipe / Homemade Boba Tea Recipe
Each homemade boba tea recipe that I designed follows the same basic formula. This isn’t any kind of traditional or authentic boba ingredients list, but a simple framework that YOU can use to come up with your own bubble tea recipe at home!
Keep in mind, each of the recipes below yields 2 servings. That means you distribute the ⅓ cup of cooked boba pearls into 2 cups, followed by blended milk tea mixture. (Of course, you can serve up larger boba drinks with more boba pearls, the nutrition will just be different!)
But, if you’d like to make just a single serving boba drink, you can use the amounts below to come up with your own homemade boba flavors! My basic bubble tea recipe per drink would be as follows:
- ~1 cup milk tea base
- sweetener to taste, if desired
- 2-3 Tbsp cooked boba pearls
Watch on YouTube: DIY Boba / Bubble Tea Recipes
5 Bubble Tea Recipe Ideas – How to Make Bubble Tea at Home!
Finally, here are 5 homemade bubble tea recipe ideas that I came up with for your inspiration. They’re all made with nutritious, clean ingredients and no added sugars or sweeteners—unless you want to add some!
Follow them as strictly or loosely as you’d like, adjusting ingredients to suit your tastes. Or, just use them as a framework and swap out the ingredients entirely to create new flavors!
Just remember, even if these homemade bubble tea recipes are healthier and lower in sugar, those tapioca balls still aren’t offering our bodies much fuel. So, don’t think of a homemade boba tea recipe as a replacement for something like a breakfast smoothie. These are cleaner treats, but still best enjoyed in moderation!
PB&J Strawberry Bubble Tea Recipe
Classic peanut butter and jelly flavor, blended up into a tasty strawberry bubble tea! Fresh, ripe strawberries make this drink especially delicious, and can cut down on the sugar or sweetener that you need. A naturally bright, vibrant and clean homemade bubble tea recipe.Print
Mango Green Tea Bubble Tea Recipe
This boba tea recipe is SO simple—check out how to make bubble tea with just iced green tea, milk, and fresh mango! Perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day. Feel free to get creative with your favorite ingredients!Print
Iced Coffee Bubble Tea Recipe
Take your summer iced coffee to the next level by turning it into a decadent boba tea drink! If you can find pecan milk, I think it makes this coffee bubble tea especially tasty and creamy but any milk will do.Print
Avocado Matcha Bubble Tea Recipe
The antioxidant power of matcha meets creamy avocado in this irresistible boba tea drink! It’s rich, refreshing, and loaded with nutrients. Learn how to make bubble tea with matcha powder and fresh avocado for a bright, vibrant sippable treat!Print
Banana Coconut Bubble Tea Recipe
This boba milk tea is bursting with creamy, tropical flavors! Use a ripe banana, and you don’t even need to add any sweetener. I personally think the best way for how to make bubble tea is with a frozen banana—for an extra thick, creamy texture!Print