Small Batch

How to Make Bubble Tea at Home

By • May 23, 2014 • 8 Comments

49 Save

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Molly Yeh from My Name is Yeh makes iced tea fun again with the addition of boba. 

Let me tell you about my relationship with textures: Since the day I could eat, the texture of a food has, more often than not, come first as a priority for what I feel like eating in that exact moment. Texture first, flavor second. 

I define my cravings as doughy or crispy, not salty or sweet. And I’d eat just about anything -- even durian -- if it morphed into the texture of a nice fluffy loaf of bread. My hierarchy of textures starts at the top with doughy: a crustless piece of challah, a thick potsticker wrapper (hold the filling), a pork bun. Then comes crispy: Cheez-Its, the coating of a well-fried mozzarella stick, a handful of potato chips. Way at the bottom of this list we have slimy, rubbery, and whatever mushrooms are. 

It doesn’t make sense that I should like bubble tea, and for the longest time, I didn’t. I’d sit in Chinatown and watch my sister slurping up the chewy black balls as I’d sip on my tapioca-less drink with the fat straw that I used to disguise my dislike. Eventually I just felt like a fake, drinking my plain jane drink with a super special straw, so I sucked it up (no pun…) and tried some boba.

More: Looking for another way to make tea exciting again? Try classic Southern sweet tea.

  

I realized those things don’t have an ounce of flavor, but I like the novelty, and the texture has grown on me. They’re not slimy, and the textural variety is a nice change of pace from your typical smoothie or tea. 

The closest Chinatown to my new home is in Canada, about two hours away, so that means that whenever I want bubble tea, I need to make it. I guess I say that about a lot of foods these days, but this one is extra special because without the access to fat boba straws, my boyfriend had to (got to) make a badass brass boba straw. 

It was fun until we realized that drinking out of brass might not be safe. Luckily, you can buy fat straws (and other bubble tea goodies) on the internet.

Bubble Tea

Serves 2

1/2 cup dried black boba pearls
1 cup honey or 1/2 cup white sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 black tea bags
2 cups milk or almond milk or a few tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (to taste)
Ice
Any additional flavorings such as syrups, frozen fruits (to be blended like a smoothie), flavored powders, or extracts

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the boba pearls and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 12 to 15 more minutes. 

  

While the boba pearls are boiling, make a simple syrup: Combine 1 cup of water with honey or sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring, over medium heat. Remove the mixture from the heat when it reaches a boil and set it aside until the pearls are ready. 

Steep the 3 tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water for 4 minutes and let cool.

When the pearls are ready, drain them and then gently stir them into the syrup. Let sit for 15 minutes. 

Distribute the pearls into two glasses. Then combine the tea, the milk, and any desired flavorings in a cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice. (This might be easiest to do one serving at a time: 1 cup of tea and 1 cup of milk). Shake the tea vigorously, then pour it into the glass. 

While some say the name "bubble tea" is derived from the boba pearls, others say that the foam (or bubbles) on top of the tea that forms when shaking it is the real reason for why it's called bubble tea. 

If you want to use frozen fruit to make a smoothie, blend the 2 cups of tea, 2 cups of milk (or a few tablespoons of condensed milk), and about 3 cups of fruit in a blender until smooth. Pour over the pearls. Add additional simple syrup to taste.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Molly Yeh

Jump to Comments (8)

Tags: how-to & DIY, small batch, bubble tea, boba, drinks, tea, cold drinks, beverages, asian, japanese, taiwanese

Comments (8)

Default-small
Default-small
Img_00000255

15 days ago kimikoftokyo

I love boba tea!! Oh and I'm so afraid of durian lol.

Open-uri20130128-27035-1z921p-0

4 months ago Jesse Bray

How long will the pearls last until they become overly saturated and mushy? I'd love to make this, but is it too many pearls for one person to eat up?

Default-small

4 months ago Elisa

That's amazing, I had no idea it was so simple – and this way I can control exactly what goes into it. Thank you!

Burnt_offering

4 months ago Burnt Offerings

A 1/2 CUP of honey per serving? Is that right?

Open-uri20140524-9557-1czed6x

4 months ago Tennille Johnston

Bubble tea is very very very sweet. Plus you are soaking the pearls in the syrup and letting the tapioca pick up the sweetness, not putting the honey directly into the tea. A place I go to allows you to adjust the sweetness and I never ask for it at full strength.

Me

4 months ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Girl you crazy. (Also I adore your blue Dansk pot.)

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

LOVE it!!! And I totally agree with you and Cynthia on textures. They are so, so important in food. I've been meaning to make bubble tea at home :)

Tworedbowls2

4 months ago cynthia | two red bowls

BUBBLE TEA AT HOME!!! Beautiful photos and just a gorgeous piece of food writing -- YES to texture first! Can't wait to try this soon.