Boba is a cold, sweet, creamy tea drink with soft, chewy tapioca pearls called bubbles, or boba. The drink was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, when tea, shaved ice and tapioca were all popular, and people started experimenting by combining the three. Now the drink is a staple of the Taiwanese food scene, and it’s taking the rest of the world by storm.
Your first taste of boba is an event; your second taste is probably to satisfy a craving you haven’t been able to get rid of since. There’s just something about that combination: strong tea, ordinarily bitter, made sweet and smooth with creamy milk and dark, molasses-y sugar. And then there’s the satisfaction of squishing those soft, bouncy bubbles between your teeth.
Now, you can save a little cash by making boba yourself, at home. And if you’re going to make the classic milk tea, make sure you use real milk, produced near you with 13 essential nutrients. Don’t worry: lactose-free milk is an option if you’re lactose intolerant!
Kids also love boba (naturally), so this could be a fun recipe to try with your kids if they’re old enough to use the stove with some supervision – it’s mostly measuring, pouring and stirring.
Classic Boba Milk Tea Recipe
Makes 2 servings
- 1 cup black tapioca pearls
- 5 cups water
- ¼ cup Muscovado sugar (or brown sugar if you can’t find it)
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cups water
- 2-3 Black tea bags or loose-leaf equivalent
- 1 cup milk
- Boil the tapioca pearls per package instructions. There are 5-minute boba pearls if you are pressed for time (or impatient like me); others take about 30 minutes to boil and cool.
- Make a simple syrup: Cook sugar in an equal amount of water over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly; then remove it from the heat. (Use less water or cook longer if you want thicker syrup.)
- Drain the boiled tapioca and place the pearls in the syrup to start soaking up the sweetness.
- Brew three bags of black tea in 2 cups of hot (not boiling) water for 4-6 minutes or as the tea package recommends.
- Divide the syrupy tapioca into two glasses, dribbling the syrup up the sides of the glasses for effect; add some ice, then tea, then the milk.
- Serve it up with super fat straws so you can suck up the bubbles!
You can switch up this recipe with any kind of tea you like – matcha, herbal or fruity teas can be delicious, too. Plus, try adding some condensed milk for extra creamy sweetness.