How to Make Taiwanese Milk Tea with Boba

Taiwanese milk tea combines brown sugar syrup and strong black tea with creamy milk and squishy boba balls for the perfect drink combination.

Serves: 4 Time: 30 minutes Cookbook: The Boba Book

taiwanese milk tea in glasses with ice

My wife loves boba tea. When we moved to a small town in the south, she assumed she’d never see it again unless we went to visit our families in another state. Then, one day, we drove down the middle of town, checked out a donut shop we hadn’t been to, and lo and behold, they served boba! My wife was pretty happy.

But as cool as boba shops are, I have something even better: a bubble tea recipe! Now, whenever the craving hits, she can enjoy her chewy tapioca pearls while sipping brown sugar pearl milk tea from the comfort of our own home. And let me tell you, this is the real deal!

Today’s master recipe was featured on Epicurious, a food publication that’s been providing home cooks with expert recipes, cooking advice, chef tips, and kitchen tricks since 1995. To date, they have over 33,000 recipes! And now, straight from bubble tea shops to your kitchen, let’s make Taiwanese boba tea!

Jump Ahead:

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Tasty: This is one delicious drink that I guarantee will disappear about as fast as you make it. Simply put, it’s perfection in a glass.

DIY: We’ve always wanted to make our own bubble tea, but the mystique of it all left us wondering if this was too hard. Turns out, it’s super easy! DIY boba is moments away.

Fun: If you’ve got kids that like boba, get them in on the action! It’s fun to watch the boba pearls go from hard and dried to gooey and squishy as they bounce to the top of the bubbling pot while cooking.

Ingredients Needed to Make Taiwanese Milk Tea

Brown sugar, cane sugar, boba pearls, assam, ceylon, and yunnan tea, milk
  • Tea: This recipe calls for a Ceylon, Assam, and Yunnan tea blend. However, you can use other teas based on your preference including green tea, oolong tea, earl grey, jasmine tea, and English breakfast tea. You can utilize loose leaf or tea bags for this recipe. Yunnan tea can be found at an Asian grocery store.
  • Cane Sugar: You’ll need cane sugar to make a simple syrup for the tea.
  • Brown Sugar: You can use light or dark brown sugar. The darker the sugar, the more your drink will have a maple syrup or molasses-type flavor. Choose based on your preference.
  • Dried Boba Pearls: Boba pearls can be found in Asian supermarkets or online.
  • Milk: You can use any milk you’d prefer, here. Traditionally half-and-half is used, but you can also use heavy cream, whole milk, 2%, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk depending on your dietary preferences.
  • Water: You’ll need batches of cold water and hot water at various stages of this recipe.
  • Ice Cubes: Ice cubes will be used to help dilute the tea concentrate and for serving the final drink. Have at least 9-10 ounces of ice available.

Equipment Needed In the Kitchen

  • Electric Kettle: This process is made easier (and faster) by using an electric kettle. We have the kettle featured here and use it all the time. It has separate functions for bringing water to temp and for steeping loose-leaf tea or tea bags.
  • Saucepan: A 3-quart saucepan is just the right size for the amount of tapioca pearls.
  • Strainer: A strainer or colander is perfect for straining boiled tapioca pearls.
  • Boba Straws: These are no ordinary straws. They’re thick straws made specifically for drinking boba. The wide straw diameter perfectly fits boiled tapioca pearls.

How to Make Taiwanese Milk Tea

Milk in the tea

Before I tried my hand at making boba tea at home, it seemed like a mystery to me. It is a mystery no more! Time to pull back the curtain and make this fantastic drink.

Make the sugar syrup

First up, bring a cup of water up to a full rolling boil.

Next, put your brown sugar and cane sugar into a bowl. Then, pour the cup of water into the bowl and whisk or stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

Boom. You just made brown sugar syrup. Set aside.

Note: You will have extra. This can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a month.

Make the boba pearls

Now, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the dried tapioca pearls and turn the stove to medium heat.

Follow the boba package instructions for exact timing regarding how long to leave them in the boiling water. Typically, when boba pearls all float to the top, they’re done.

To check doneness, fish one out a boba pearl and pop it in your mouth. It should be perfectly swishy, not hard or overly chewy when you chew it.

Drain the boba into a strainer.

Place the drained boba in a medium sized bowl.

Add 1/2 cup of the sugar syrup to the bowl and mix the boba pearls to coat.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Make the tea

Classic boba tea uses a blend of loose leaf Ceylon, Assam, and Yunnan teas. If you have these, add them into a storage container and mix well. Leftovers can be stored in the pantry. If you don’t have loose leaf tea, tea bags of your choice will work just as well for creating your boba milk tea base.

Bring 20 oz of water to 190 degrees, then remove it from the heat and steep 8 tablespoons of tea blend (or 10-11 tea bags of your choice) for 4 minutes. If you’re using an electric kettle, program it to 190 degrees, then when it clicks over to ‘keep warm’ put the tea into the infuser and let it steep 4 minutes.

Once the tea has steeped, place 4 ounces of ice in 4 large glasses. Pour the tea over the ice and let the cubes melt to slightly dilute and cool the tea.

Assemble the boba tea

To make the milky tea, add 5 more ounces of ice to each glass.

Then, add 1/4 cup of prepared boba pearls and 2 tablespoons of sugar syrup to each glass.

Finally, add a 1/4 cup of half-and-half or milk to each glass.

Plunk a fat straw into the glass and stir until everything is mixed together.

Pro tip: To make your drink like a pro, start with the brown sugar syrup and drizzle it on the sides of the glass. Then add everything else in succession. You’ll get a cool pattern from the brown sugar syrup that looks like tiger strips. This is typically called tiger milk tea in boba shops.

Variations on Taiwanese Milk Tea

taiwanese milk tea

The milk tea recipe we used is the classic version of brown sugar milk tea with black tapioca pearls. However, there are plenty of ways to enjoy boba! Here are some of our favorites.

Earl Grey Boba: You can use many types of tea, but earl grey is one of our favorites. Follow the recipe as written, but use earl grey, instead. We also like jasmine tea and rooibos tea with boba!

Cold Brew Boba: Who said boba should be limited to tea? Brew yourself up some strong coffee and pour that into your glass instead of tea for a coffee-forward boba.

Peach Tea Boba: Make yourself some delicious sweet peach iced tea, make the boba, and add it to the tea. Just be sure to skip the step where you add extra syrup since the tea is already sweet.

Fruit Juice Boba: Make the boba as the recipe calls for, then add the ready boba to a glass of your favorite fruit juice and ice. This works exceptionally well with thick juices like peach and pineapple.

Extra Fun Boba: In addition to chewy tapioca balls, add some other fun mix-ins like grass jelly or coconut jelly!

Taiwanese Milk Tea: Tips, Tricks, and FAQs

How long will boba pearls keep?

Freshly made boba pearls will retain their perfectly soft, chewy texture for around four hours. After that, they’ll start to get hard again.
Boba pearls that are still dried will keep in dried form for months on end.

What is boba tea made of?

Boba tea combines freshly brewed tea, sugar syrup, milk, and tapioca pearls into one tasty drink.

Is boba tea good for you?

While tea is great, the issue many people run into is how much sugar syrup they add to the boba tea. Enjoyed in moderation, boba tea is fine. But the more sugar syrup you add, the worse it is. This is a drink to be enjoyed from time to time, not every day.

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taiwanese milk tea

How to Make Taiwanese Milk Tea with Boba


  • Author: Matt
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Taiwanese milk tea combines brown sugar syrup and strong black tea with creamy milk and squishy boba balls for the perfect drink combination. 


Ingredients

Scale

1/2 cup Loose Leaf Assam Black Tea (or 45 tea bags)

1/4 cup Loose Leaf Ceylon Black Tea (or 2-3tea bags)

1/4 cup Loose Leaf Yunnan Black Tea (or 23 tea bags)

1 cup packed Brown Sugar

1 cup White or Cane Sugar

1 cup Dried Boba Pearls

1 cup Half-and-Half (or milk of choice)

9 ounces Ice (per glass)


Instructions

Make the sugar syrup

  • First up, bring a cup of water up to a full rolling boil.
  • Next, put your brown sugar and cane sugar into a bowl. Then, pour the cup of water into the bowl and whisk or stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
  • Set aside. 

Make the boba pearls

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  • Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the dried tapioca pearls and turn the stove to medium heat.
  • Follow the boba package instructions for exact timing regarding how long to leave them in the boiling water. Typically, when boba pearls all float to the top, they’re done.
  • To check doneness, fish one out a boba pearl and pop it in your mouth. It should be perfectly swishy, not hard or overly chewy when you chew it.
  • When done, drain the boba into a strainer, then place in a medium sized bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar syrup to the bowl and mix the boba pearls to coat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Make the tea

  • If you have loose-leaf tea, blend the loose-leaf Ceylon, Assam, and Yunnan teas in a storage container and mix well. You will have more loose-leaf blend than you need for this recipe. Store extras in the pantry. If you have tea bags, move to the next step.
  • Bring 20 oz of water to 190 degrees, then remove it from the heat and steep 8 tablespoons of tea blend (or 10-11 tea bags of your choice) for 4 minutes. If you’re using an electric kettle, program it to 190 degrees, then when it clicks over to ‘keep warm’ put the tea into the infuser and let it steep 4 minutes.
  • Once the tea has steeped, place 4 ounces of ice in 4 large glasses. Pour the tea over the ice and let the cubes melt to slightly dilute and cool the tea.

Assemble a glass of boba tea

  • To assemble the milky tea, add 5 ounces of ice to each glass.
  • Then, add 1/4 cup of prepared boba pearls and 2 tablespoons of sugar syrup to each glass.
  • Finally, add a 1/4 cup of half-and-half or milk to each glass.
  • Plunk a fat straw into the glass and stir until everything is mixed together.

Notes

Pro tip: To make your drink like a pro, start with the brown sugar syrup and drizzle it on the sides of the glass. Then add everything else in succession. You’ll get a cool pattern from the brown sugar syrup that looks like tiger strips. This is typically called tiger milk tea in boba shops.

Extra sugar syrup can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to a month.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Beverages
  • Method: Steep
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: Taiwanese Boba Tea, boba milk tea, boba tea, bubble tea, Taiwanese bubble tea, brown sugar bubble tea, brown sugar boba tea, brown sugar milk tea with boba

Join the Conversation

  1. I’m so glad that I can make this boba tea at home. It tastes as good or better than the cafe ones and is so much cheaper!






    1. Yes! We love how easy and cost-effective it is!

  2. Rosanna Stevens says:

    I loved this! I’d never tried it before but had always wanted to, thank you for the recipe!






  3. Angela Pagliarello says:

    It was the first time I tried to make Milk Tea with Boba at home, delicious much better than the bought one!






    1. We’re so glad it turned out great for you!

  4. Sherry L Ronning says:

    I learned a lot about boba balls in your article. Thank you for all the great information and a great Milk Tea recipe!






  5. This is amazing! It’s so much easier than I thought it’d be to make and I save $$ making it at home!






    1. Yes! We love how easy and cost-effective it is to make!

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