Bubble Milk Tea

I’ve finally made it. A homemade version of my favourite Asian drink!

Before you start your happy dance (because, yes, I admit that is¬†exactly¬†what I did), check your local Asian grocery stores. In New Zealand I couldn’t find bubble-tea-worthy tapioca pearls. You want the specific ones for making this drink – they’re called “boba” – and regular tapioca from your supermarket just doesn’t work. I’ve tried before. Believe me, it’s not worth it.

By some miracle, I stumbled across a packet of quick-cooking boba the other day here in the UK. There were lots of excited noises (me) and eyes rolled (my friends), but I’m sure any true bubble tea believer would share my joy. Making your own saves you around $5 a serve, and once you’ve started, you’ll never look back.

Make sure you pick up some giant boba-friendly straws while you’re buying the tapioca pearls. You should be able to find them on a shelf nearby, and without them, bubble tea isn’t half the fun. To make it properly, you’re actually supposed to shake everything together until bubbly. Let’s face it, though – when you’re at home, you’re probably going to just want to pour and mix. If that suits you, it suits me!


This recipe can be gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and vegan.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes


– 3/4 cup boiling water

– 2 tea bags of choice (you can use standard black tea, or chai tea for a real treat!)

– 1/3 cup quick-cooking boba (see above)

– 1 Tablespoon rice malt syrup

– ice

– extra rice malt syrup, to taste

– 2/3 cup milk of choice, approximately


1. Pop the tea bags in a mug and pour over the boiling water. Place in your fridge (and keep the tea in to brew).

2. Cook the boba according to their packet’s instructions. Mine were boiled in water for 3 minutes, left in the (lidded) pot for 3 more minutes, drained, and dipped in cool water.

3. Drain the boba and mix with the rice malt syrup and a little water in a small bowl. Keep in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to serve your tea.

4. To assemble the tea, fill two tall glasses around halfway with ice. Divide the boba pearls between the glasses, then pour over tea (tea bags removed). Mix in some extra rice malt syrup if you like your bubble tea sweet. Finally, swirl over 1/3 cup (or thereabouts) milk into each glass. Plop in your giant straws and enjoy!

One Comment:

  1. Need this in NZ!!!

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