Bubble Tea Recipe

Bubble tea from China was a part of my upbringing, and I still remember it fondly. First time I drank a strawberry smoothie with “bubbles,” or tapioca pearls, and that tremendous fat straw. Our kitchen would be stocked with extras that I’d steal and hide from the rest of the family. Keep your opinions to yourself.

I reached a stage where I was always searching for bubble tea.

Are you visiting your grandparents in Flushing for lunch? I was looking for a place to have a bubble tea when I came across this.

My mum and I are going to spend an afternoon in the city. What’s the distance to Chinatown? You know, we could go out for some bubble tea, you know?

But now that it is more popular than when I was a kid, finding bubble tea is much easier. However, finding high-quality tea that isn’t made entirely of unknown powder sluice juice and sweetened artificially is still a challenge. The black tapioca pearls I discovered a few years ago in an Asian grocery store make this recipe a must-have for any die-hard bubble tea fan.

I’ve tried a variety of varieties over the years, including strawberry smoothies, taro, and citrusy green tea. Still, nothing quite compares to the original black milk tea—strong black tea and a burst of creamy milk, gently sweetened to perfection.


  • 4 1/2 cups of boiled water
  • 1/4 cup of good black tea leaves
  • 4 1/2 tbsp. of sugar
  • Black tapioca pearls aka Bubbles aka “Boba” (1/4 cup per glass)
  • 3/4 cup of half and half


  1. To begin, heat a pot of water. After then, turn off the heat and give it a few minutes to cool. In Chinese tea gurus’ opinion, boiling water at a high temperature removes all of the tea leaves’ nutrients; hence a short chilling period before brewing is necessary. (I can’t confirm this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry with whatever my mother says about Chinese cooking that other people say.)
  2. Make sure the tea is in a tea bag (you can buy these and fill them with your pick of teas!) or in a large mixing basin. Some metal tea infusers, or both? As an alternative, a tea strainer is all that’s needed if you don’t have this equipment.) Allow 15 minutes of steeping time after adding the hot water.
  3. Finally, it’s time to add the sugar. The sugar should be completely dissolved before adding to the tea. Then add the half-and-half. It’s not a lot per serving for those apprehensive about higher-fat dairy products, as this serves four people. You can use ordinary milk if you like, but the finished product has a more natural flavor when made with half and half.
  4. Refrigerate the tea for at least an hour before serving. This method is preferred over adding ice because it prevents the tea from becoming too watered down. Moreover, it’s more genuine! When your tea has reached the ideal serving temperature, it’s time to pop some corks. To get the bubbles ready, heat them in a pot of water according to the package directions. Pour 1/4 cup of bubbles into each glass of tea and enjoy!

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