Last summer, we posted a blog about Bubble Tea, the incredibly popular (and fun!) tea drink that has stormed the U.S. in recent years. As spring is upon us and a feeling of excitement is in the air, we thought we’d provide you with a few more ways you can have fun with bubble tea this season. If drinking delicious tea while sucking large tapioca pearls through a big straw isn’t your idea of a good time, we encourage you to think again!
In that article, we gave you the basic recipe for making bubble tea, which is super easy and straightforward. Paul Harney shows you just how easy it is in this video:
As you can see, all it involves is making a cuppa tea, cooking your tapioca pearls, and letting them cool, adding in milk or a milk substitute, sweetener, and ice. Bubble tea up!
The first easy variation on the classic is fruity bubble tea. To cut down on the sugar content of bubble tea – which can be high due to the starch of the tapioca pearls and the fact that they are often soaked in brown sugar, as well as added sugars to the drink itself – use real fruit to flavor your bubble tea. Print the recipe card here.
Boba Real Fruit Tea
- 8 oz. of cooled tea (for extra fruitiness, consider a fruit-flavored tea like Goji Berry Fruit Tea, Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Tea, Peaches & Ginger or Blueberry Green)
- Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, banana, peaches, kiwi – if you love it and can blend it, go for it!)
- Milk or milk sub
- Honey (or another sweetener, if you prefer, or no sweetener at all)
- Tapioca pearls, cooked and cooled
- Throw the tea, fruit, milk, and sweetener in a blender, process until smooth. Place the pearls in the bottom of a tall glass and top with ice. Pour the blended tea & fruit mixture into the glass and enjoy!
- If you wish, you can turn this into a bubble tea smoothie by adding the ice to the blender for a bubble tea smoothie parTEA!
Taiwanese Bubble Tea is a recipe that features brown sugar prominently. Taiwan is the birthplace of bubble tea, and this recipe pays homage to this sweet concoction. Print the recipe card here.
Taiwanese Bubble Tea (2 servings)
- 6 black tea sachets or bags (we recommend something with some straight-ahead flavor and body, like English Breakfast or Queen Catherine to stand up to the sweetness of this drink)
- 2 C water
Tapioca Pearls and Brown Sugar Syrup
- ½ C medium black tapioca pearls
- 2 C brown sugar
- 1 C hot water
- ½ C tapioca pearls, cooked
- ½ C ice
- brown sugar syrup, to taste
- 1 C black tea, chilled
- ¼ C half & half
- In a medium pot over high heat, combine the water and tea bags. Bring to a boil, then remove the pan from heat and let the tea cool to room temperature.
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the tapioca pearls and boil until softened, about 20 minutes.
- Drain the pearls through a strainer.
- Set the strainer with the pearls over a medium bowl. Add the brown sugar to the strainer and pour the hot water over.
- Stir to dissolve the brown sugar. Soak the pearls in brown sugar syrup for 30 minutes, then store the bubbles and syrup separately until ready to serve.
- Assemble the tea: divide the pearls and ice between two glasses, then add the brown sugar syrup, tea, and half & half.
- Stir with a wide-opening straw and serve.
Lychee is a fruit that comes from the lychee tree, which is native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. The fruit has a grape-like texture and a sweet citrus flavor with just a hint of rose. Fortunately for this recipe, we make a lychee tea! Please note: “lychee” is also sometimes spelled “litchi,” as in this recipe. Print the recipe card here.
Litchi Coconut Bubble Tea
- 1 C light brown sugar
- 1 C white sugar
- 2 C tapioca pearls
For each bubble tea:
½ C chilled tapioca pearls
1 C crushed ice
8 oz. brewed lychee tea, chilled
1 C canned litchi nuts in syrup
¾ C coconut milk
¼ C milk
1-2 tsp fresh lime juice
- In a saucepan, combine the sugars with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. In a pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the tapioca and cook until tender, about 8 minutes if parboiled. Drain. Mix the pearls with the sugar mixture and chill.
- To make a drink, spoon the pearls into a large glass. In a blender, puree the ice, tea, litchis, coconut milk, milk, and lime juice. When smooth and frothy, pour over the pearls and stick in a straw.
How about some watermelon mint tea and fresh watermelon in a boba slushie? Yes, please! Print the recipe card here.
Watermelon Boba Slushie (2 servings)
- 16 oz. brewed Watermelon Mint Fresh Brew Iced Tea, cooled
- ¼ C black tapioca pearls
- 2 C water
- ¼ C honey
- 4 C watermelon sliced
- 1 cup ice
- ¼ cup coconut water
- ¼ cup raw coconut sugar (optional)
- Brew tea according to package directions.
- In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add tapioca pearls to the water and boil until they float. Reduce heat to medium and let them cook for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. Cover the saucepan and reduce heat to low, letting the tapioca pearls simmer for another 25 minutes.
- Once the tapioca pearls are done, drain them and rinse in cold water 2-3 times. Pour the drained boba into a bowl and stir in the honey to retain their moisture.
- While the boba cools, make the slushie. Put the tea, watermelon, ice, coconut water, and coconut sugar in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the boba pearls into the bottom of a glass and pour the watermelon slushie on top. Use wide boba straws and serve immediately while cold.
Matcha fans, rejoice! Matcha just got even cooler as the star of this bubble tea show. Print the recipe card here.
Matcha Bubble Tea (2 servings)
Matcha Green Tea
- 1 tsp Matcha Jobetsugi
- ¼ C hot water
- ½ C tapioca pearls
- 4 C water
- 1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 2 C milk of choice
- 1 C ice
- Prepare the matcha tea. In a small bowl, whisk the matcha green tea powder with hot water. Set aside and let it cool down.
- Cook the tapioca pearls. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls to the water and stir until the pearls start to float to the top. Continue cooking them for the amount of time indicated on the packaging. Turn off the heat and carefully drain the boba. Pour the cooked boba into a bowl.
- Sweeten the tapioca pearls. Add sweetener and stir the tapioca pearls. Let the pearls sit for about 5 minutes, allowing them to absorb the sweetener, stirring it a few times.
- Assemble your drinks. Divide the pearls between two glasses. Top each with ice and pour in milk. Finally, pour the matcha green tea to create a beautiful drink. Stir and enjoy.
Finally, if you want to get really fun, take any of these boba tea slushie recipes and turn them into Boba Pops! Simply put the cooked boba pearls into a popsicle mold, pour in the prepared boba tea liquid, freeze slightly, insert popsicle sticks and return to the freezer until solid. Bobalicious!
Also, a note on the tapioca pearls: they are best used within four hours of cooking or they will become mushy. If you think, “Oh well, no worries! I’ll just pop the leftovers in the fridge until next time,” you should know that they will harden in the refrigerator to the point of being impossible to chew. If you also think “Fine, I’ll put them in an airtight container,” think again. After four hours, they will still become mushy. Bottom line: use ‘em within four hours or lose ‘em. Just another “pearl” of wisdom from Harney!