Bubble Tea AKA Boba Chicago Tea

May  8, 2014
3 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

There are many varieties of boba pearls, and their cooking times will vary.

The cooking directions in this recipe are for basic black boba: http://www.amazon.com/WuFuYuan...

Quick cooking boba (sometimes marked 5-minute boba) will take about 5 minutes once they're put in boiling water, so they're convenient, although these tend to have a lot of extra interesting looking ingredients, so I try to steer clear of them.

White tapioca pearls (http://www.eden-market.fr/en/preparation-for-dessert/476-tapioca-pearl-cock-brand-400g.html) will work, although they may fall apart slightly during the cooking process and they can take around an hour of boiling time to get fully chewy.

Tapioca pearls sold in a jar with syrup (http://filipino-store.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=39) don't have a great flavor. It's best to make your own simple syrup.

molly yeh

What You'll Need
  • 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 (to taste) of sweetened condensed milk
  • Ice
  • Any additional flavorings such as syrups, frozen fruits (to be blended like a smoothie), flavored powders, or extracts
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add boba and continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 12 to 15 more minutes.
  2. 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 it from heat when it reaches a boil and set it aside until the pearls are ready.
  3. Steep the 3 tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water for 4 minutes and let cool.
  4. When the pearls are ready, drain them and then gently stir them into the syrup. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Distribute the pearls into two glasses and 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 milk). Shake the tea vigorously and then pour it into a 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.
  6. If you're wanting 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.
  7. Add additional simple syrup to taste.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gg
  • fanaledrinks
  • Karin Ward
    Karin Ward
  • Olivia Edreas
    Olivia Edreas
  • CarlaCooks
molly yeh recently moved from brooklyn to a farm outside of grand forks, north dakota, where her husband is a fifth generation farmer. she writes the blog my name is yeh.

9 Reviews

gg March 4, 2016
I bought a bag of the white tapioca pearls. What is the difference, and can I jsut substitute those?
fanaledrinks August 5, 2015
Easy to follow recipe. Thanks!!
EZ May 28, 2015
I feel like two cups of milk is too much. I put half a cup of milk and it already seemed a little milky. Anyways, thanks for the recipe!
WHB September 11, 2014
Thank you for this recipe! Years ago, I used to get a blended bubble tea at Mitsuwa outside Chicago--green tea and taro. I could easily sub green for black tea. Any suggestions for the taro? I suspect it was powdered. I miss that tea and the black sesame ice cream and the red bean donuts at Hippo bakery. Sigh...
Beverly March 9, 2016
Bubble Tea at Home:-)
Nuts.com sells both Black Tapioca Pearls as well as the authentic Taro powder mix to make your own Bubble Tea. It is delicious and just as good as what I've enjoyed at Tea Shops
Karin W. May 26, 2014
I like pearl tea but does one have to use black tea? Can I use a decaf tea like earl grey?
Olivia E. May 25, 2014
Looks yummy!
Rose L. May 23, 2014
Thanks for this recipe! Didn't realize it was so simple to make! Is that a metal straw, btw? If so, do you know where it can be purchased?
CarlaCooks May 22, 2014
Oh, I how I do love love boba tea! I was lucky enough to live near Korean Town in Los Angeles, and now that I've moved to Copenhagen, it's hard to tell what I miss more: BCD Tofu House or the millions of boba tea houses in K-Town. Thanks for this recipes. I can't wait to try it myself!