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All About Boba: What Is Bubble Tea & How to Make It

two bottles of bubble tea

If you have never heard of bubble tea, then you’re probably expecting to get a cup of tea with bubbles in it. However, contrary to what many people think, there are certainly no bubbles in bubble tea. In fact, in some cases, there isn’t even tea in bubble tea.

So, what you may ask is bubble tea? It is a warm or iced sweet concoction, often filled with tapioca jelly or other additions that many people have gone mad over. Also known as boba tea, once you’ve had this drink, you’ll certainly be coming back more often.

So, exactly what is bubble tea, and where did it come from? What are all those things floating in the bottom? Why does it come with such a big straw? How can I make this bubble tea myself? All of your questions are answered below, so keep reading.

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What Exactly Is Bubble Tea?

Bubble tea has been said to look strange to people who have never had it before. It’s a liquid that features a pastel color and has brown things floating in the bottom of the cup. Usually, this drink is made with black tea, but many people use green tea to make it. After you put in the tea, you use a base of milk, fruit, coffee, and what looks like chewy pearls at the bottom. Finally, add ice, and you have a drink to remember.

The pearls in the boba tea are tapioca in pearl form. A large straw is used so that you can get the pearls from the bottom of the cup and eat them easily. Bubble or boba tea can be sweetened in whatever way you like; in this respect, it’s like a latte or a milkshake, with the sky being the limit.

Where Did Bubble Tea Come From?

You would think that bubble tea was a relatively new invention, considering the name and the fascination with coffee and tea drinks that has swept the nation. However, this delectable drink has been around for decades and originated in Taiwan.

The people of Taiwan love the texture and taste of the tapioca pearls and soon developed boba tea to add them to. As a result, it’s become popular all over the world now, and with good reason.

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What Are the Different Types of Bubble Tea?

Luckily, if you don’t like one type of bubble tea, you can try another. There are many different types of bubble tea. We’ll go into a few of them below, so you can decide which one to try and make your favorite.

Classic Bubble Tea

Bubble tea
Image Credit: elwynn, Shutterstock

Classic bubble tea is a simple recipe. It’s tapioca pearls, milk, black tea, and whatever type of sweetener you choose and enjoy. In fact, it’s not much different from making a latte, except you use black tea and add tapioca pearls to the mix.

Fruit Bubble Tea

fruit bubble tea
Image Credit: Pixabay

A fruit bubble tea is made up of real fruit that sits on the bottom of the cup, along with the tapioca pearls for added flavor. Popular fruits for this delicious tea include lychee, honeydew, and mango. Of course, you can try your own variation of fruit in your bubble tea since there’s no hard and fast rule as to which fruits are best, so get creative with it.

Green Bubble Tea

matcha latte
Image Credit: Pixabay

Green boba tea is just what it sounds like, classic tea made with matcha. Known for its bright green color and intense flavors, the matcha is perfect for making your tea look amazing and taste even better. The major benefit of this bubble tea is the fact that it’s full of the antioxidants you need.

Taro Bubble Tea

a cup of taro milk tea with boba pearls
Image Credit: Agave Photo Studio, Shutterstock

As you might already know, taro is a root vegetable, so you wouldn’t really think it would work well in a tea, but it does. The vegetable is grown the same way sweet potatoes are, but it tastes like coconut, making it perfect for bubble tea.

Even though it makes a decadent drink that everyone loves, it’s actually not a drink that’s unhealthy for you, as it’s packed with fiber, vitamins, and other things that usually aren’t in delicious drinks. So, if you choose this bubble tea as your favorite, you don’t have to feel guilty when you drink it.

Brown Sugar Bubble Tea

brown sugar bubble tea
Image Credit: Pixabay

Now, this is a tea that sounds like it would be super sweet. But, instead, it’s a great way to switch up the flavor of a classic bubble tea, and it is sweet but delicious. Brown sugar gives the drink a more decadent taste combined with a complex, richer flavor than the classic has.

Dessert Bubble Tea

Last but not least on our list of bubble teas is the dessert bubble tea. Featured desserts in this succulent drink often include custard, sweet potatoes, pudding, and panna cotta. Red bean paste is also used as well as other rich ingredients.

The result when it comes to dessert bubble tea is something more edible than drinkable. So, if you’re on a strict diet of any kind, you might want to skip trying this bubble tea and instead try the ones above.

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How to Make Boba Tea

Easy Iced Boba Latte
Boba pearls are often enjoyed in milky cups of refreshing, slightly sweet tea. But they’re pretty darn delicious in an iced latte! Here’s our simple recipe for the perfect iced boba latte.
Try this delicious recipe!
iced boba latte coffee drink

As you’ve probably already gathered, the basic recipe for bubble/boba tea is actually pretty simple. Boil your tapioca for about five minutes, or just until they start to bubble up. If you like, you can either turn off the stove and let the pearls sit in the water or put them in the fridge until you’re ready for them. Either option is acceptable.

Next, brew yourself a strong cup of black tea, then set it to the side to cool. Remember, you should never combine hot and cold drinks. In this case, adding the two would end with your bubble tea becoming room temperature before you can enjoy it, and you wouldn’t want that.

Using whatever sweetener you choose, sweeten the tea to your satisfaction. Take your pearls, pour the tea over them in a cup, and then add whatever type of milk you usually drink. Take that large, wide straw you picked up at the store, put it in your bubble tea, and settle down on the couch or out on the patio to enjoy!

Now that you know what bubble tea is and all of the different types, it’s time for you to make your own bubble tea. Let us know which tea is your favorite and how the experience of making it yourself went below.

Featured Image Credit: Rosalind Chang, Unsplash


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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