Introduction: How to Make Chinese/Japanese Bubble Tea - Tea + Tapioca = Party Recipe

Picture of How to Make Chinese/Japanese Bubble Tea - Tea + Tapioca = Party Recipe
Going out to get some bubble tea with your crew is a perfect way to share some "that's what she said" together. See with so many balls about it's difficult not to. But even though many enjoy their local Bubble Tea cafe's with their arcades, TV with the audio muted, scrabble, Jenga, and Chinese poker the $3.50 price tag per cup really digs into the instructable interns jumpsuit funds.

Tetranitrate, trebuchet03, T3h_Muffinator and me, lamedust, are the frugalest of frogs, so we decided to make our own Bubble tea complete with "that's what she said" and all. You'll be pleased to know that the final product costs less than a dollar a cup and is delicious. Are you ready? Doesn't matter, you're about to experience the Bubble Bonanza!

That's what she said.

Video of the making and drinking in action:

Oh, I'd also like to thank my Chinese friend Rosanna for helping me along the way.

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients
You'll first need to find your local Asian store to pick up some ingredients. You may be able to find this stuff at Whole Foods, or a large super market, but I suggest you go for authentic.

Here's what you'll be needing:
  • 1) Large Tapioca Pearls. Try to find some that aren't ALL white, they should have a spot of light brown on them, these work better.
  • 2) Sugar
  • 3) Coffee Syrups (if you don't want to make your own, or want to try different flavors)
  • 4) Green and/or Black tea.

If you'd like to make your own syrup, you'll also need a fruit of your choice.

Step 2: Prepare the Bubbles

Picture of Prepare the Bubbles

Start the flaming coils, and boil 1 liter of water for every 1 cup of tapioca bubbles in a large pot.

If the tapioca balls wont talk you should loosen them up by pouring them into the boiling water and then set the temperature to medium. It's important to keep moving the bubbles around otherwise they will buddy up with the pan and each other ,and it'll be hard to pry them apart. This takes a few hours so we decided to shizzle over to the lounge area with the hot plate and set it up on top of a cooler.

Keep mixing and checking on the color as it cooks - the exterior should turn clear while the innards should retain a brownish tint. Continue stirring until you have finished watching the first two episodes of Battle Star Galactica.

Step 3: Rinse Your Balls.

Picture of Rinse Your Balls.

Now that you've finished those 2 episodes of Battlestar, your bubbles should be fairly clearish brown and still have a little bit of a bite to them in the center. You're now ready to continue on your journey to sweet tastiness.

Yyou'll need to pour your hot balls into a sieve while rinsing them off with cold tap water. This should solidify the bubbles a bit and keep them from sticking to each other. Once they're cold, pour them into bowls - one bowl per syrup flavor.

Step 4: Sweeten the Pot

Picture of Sweeten the Pot
The balls you just made won't taste very good until you sweeten them. You could use coffee or Italian Ice syrups but we just made our own because we're "ballers" like that. We imply added water to sugar in a 1 to 1 ratio and boiled it for a bit.

Here's what are syrups we tried:

  • Strawberry syrup made from real strawberries
  • Fake Hershey's strawberry syrup
  • Banana syrup
  • Sugar water
  • Eggs

When you add the syrup, make sure to saturate the balls. You should add enough syrup mix to cover the balls completely. This mixture should be allowed to sit for a while. You might even want to heat them up a bit, too, to facilitate the ball-flavoring process.

As an aside, the tapioca ball omelet wasn't that bad.

Step 5: Make Tea

Picture of Make Tea

We have a industrial coffee maker at work so we make tea a bit differently. Just fill the metal filter, add a carafe of water to the machine and flip a switch. And magically five minuets later fresh tea is delivered.

You may have to do it with a tea bag and a tea kettle. Boil some water, put it in a cup and then add a tea bag. If that's too hard, here's an tea instructables if you need some help visualizing this: Southern-style Sweet Tea for Summertime is a good instructable.

Step 6: Make Your Mixed Drink

Picture of Make Your Mixed Drink
The time it takes to make the tea will give your bubbles some time to marinate in the syrup sauce. Once you have your tea made you'll need to decide which flavors you'd like to mix. Green tea goes well with light flavors like melon and plain sugar. Black tea seems to do well with fruitier mixes.

Black milk strawberry bubble tea recipe:
  • Add 1/4 cup milk, some tea leaving enough room for the syrup & balls.

Our favorite flavor of the night was the Green Bubble Tea With Sugar Syrup.

I hope you had fun learning how to make some bubble tea! I really hope that you grab some balls the next time you're out in Chinatown an' give this a shot!

-The Interns


Andoyz (author)2015-05-11

Sago is a traditional ingredient in Southeast Asian and East Asian desserts. The instructions were great and spot on, and the results were great as well. If you have any need to learn more you can also use the resources on

More bubble tea recipes please!

Andoyz (author)2015-05-11

sabu.dawdy (author)2013-04-06

yummy this is something like chew the boba ;) i would try this for sure ;)

sunshiine (author)2013-02-19

I will have to give this a try! Thanks for sharing.

i watched 4 episodes of the simpsons and it still looked like wallpaper paste, whats up with that?

chas_mac (author)2010-12-12

Cucumber on the coffee maker?!?!

purefusion (author)2010-03-22

They've got a pretty good selection of tapioca pearls here:

bellaessa (author)2009-06-19

Where do you find the Large Black Pearls? Does any body know? :)

porcupinemamma (author)bellaessa2010-03-17

I would also reallylike to know (Ontario Canada)

That link I posted has a variety of black pearls, as well as white and others:

porcupinemamma (author)2010-03-17

Does anyone know where I can purchase the tapioca pearls in Ontario Canada?  I bought some on Ebay and they went moldy in a week.  Thanks for posting this Instructable

Don,t try this at home (author)2009-10-24

How long do the balls last.

ceschiutti (author)2009-06-15

That last picture looks like frogs' eggs in pondwater! Don't forget your long, thick tube to suck down those balls.

minerug (author)ceschiutti2009-07-15

That's what she said...

simfire687 (author)minerug2009-09-22

no its not

minerug (author)simfire6872009-09-23

or did she?

albylovesscience (author)2009-08-31

being so lucky to live at least 300 ft away from china town i can get this stuff for $1.35 for a big cup like the one you have lucky me :]

geeklord (author)2009-07-03

In Seattle, They make an iced shake sort of thing, throw in powdered flavor mix, and add the big chunks of tapioca. Then you drink it all with a big straw. They call it bubble tea, although im pretty sure there isn't any actual tea in it.

woofboy111 (author)2008-08-01

Is it Bubble Tea or Boba Tea? It seems depending on where you get the stuff from, both names are used. For example, this place called tKettle in NYC calls their drinks Bubble Tea, while the Lollicups in Orlando refer to the drinks as Boba Tea. Anyone know the difference or what is proper?

darkinertia (author)woofboy1112008-08-12

dont quote me on this, but i believe boba is the bubble tea sans tapiocas.

archemical (author)darkinertia2009-02-20

When I was in Bejing, I had boba and it had tapioca in it.

Gonazar (author)woofboy1112009-01-03

boba is the chinese (taiwanese?) name for bubble tea. My family uses that word in cantonese, but i'm sure it has taiwanese origins. Note: In canto, we just refer to it as boba, not boba tea, just fyi

gaelicspawn (author)woofboy1112008-12-06

It can be called bubble tea, boba tea, pearl tea, or milk pearl tea. You have to have the tapioca pearls for it to be bubble/boba tea.

either is fine i suppose... i've heard both, but bubble is more common. ps-i've been to Lollicups, there's one in utah.

MJTH (author)2008-11-29

They sell this stuff at the tea bar for like 3 bucks. Its yum as.

sayako (author)2008-11-15

Ouuch! It's look like a fish eggs!

advancetech (author)2008-10-21

interesting stuff

StoryAddict (author)2008-10-17

Word of advice to anyone: DO not try and substitute the small pearls for the large ones. I sought out the large ones in vain at the local stores in my smaller college town and just went with the small, but they are a PAIN to clean out of the colander/sieve - I was making a larger batch (about 20oz. worth tiny balls) and between the cooking process and rinsing and trying to salvage as many as possible from the colander (where some were pushed through becoming a tapioca goo reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. the Movie), it took me like FIVE FREAKING HOURS for cooking and cleanup. So not fun... On the bright side, I think they turned out okay, although not as pretty looking as the large pearls would have been.

StoryAddict (author)2008-10-16

I don't think we have an "Asian/Oriental foods" store in our small town, and it took me several stores to even find Tapioca that wasn't already the precooked mush. Although it's not as picturesque, will small pears work too?

viviluk (author)2008-10-03

bbt is the best! do you think vacuum pots work? instead of wasting gas/electricity?

pirateg3cko (author)2008-10-01

any idea how tricky it is to make this for a large group of people? how much might one need / want to make? (large as in 20-30 people)

puffyfluff (author)2008-08-28

I had had bubble tea at Sushi Yama in Estes Park, but I never knew how to make it. Nice!

Dfole (author)puffyfluff2008-09-27

Estes Park is so Beutiful

gaara0sama1 (author)2008-08-01

Asian people rule!! (I rule, I'm Asian!))

dmonguy (author)gaara0sama12008-09-24

me 2!!!!!!!!!!!! i is Asian bubble tea rules and so do backwards comics

popomaster (author)gaara0sama12008-08-15

im asian too! fdshfkhdfksd

zorro3355 (author)gaara0sama12008-08-01

yeah me too . btw.... your balls look different from the ones i always ones is fully black.

AnarchistAsian (author)zorro33552008-08-01

yeah, me three, asian ones can also come white, i think

The ones I buy come in all different colors.

you buy balls? we don't, we just go to tea shops and order the whole thing, and the shops don't have many choices for balls. (by we, i mean me and my family)

The store I go to has the ones you can buy and a tea shop, it's pretty cool.

i haven't had one in a while... =(
there aren't many places in houston close by that we can go to (i think)
i used to live in utah, and there was a lollicups, just like the one woofboy11 was talking about above.

I haven't had one in a while either. There's a few places near me that I can get some...

i've stopped looking... i'll tell my mom about this, she loves those things.

"Asian people rule!! (I rule, I'm Asian!))" well said, gaara0sama1 i'm asian too

w0ot! (author)2008-09-13

I had commercial bubble tea when in HK in '05. It wasn't in tea though. It was in grapefruit soda (like orange drink) and the balls were sorta clear and very much smaller than your frog-eggs looking balls. They sold it from a cooler. It was cold. I thought at the time I was drinking pulp. I almost gagged at the thought of what it really was, then bought a case to bring home 'cause now I'm addicted. Can the balls be made smaller? Maybe I can make my own tapioca balls? BTW, Asian people DO rule! Can I convert?

surfreak (author)2008-08-20

Fun fact: "Bubble Tea" actually refers to the tea bubbles when the drink is shaken with ice, instead of the tapioca. Or so I hear. Regardless, awesome instructable: I had never heard of bubble tea, but it was amazing! Green jasmine tea and orange-infused syrup... Awesome!

Well, in Chinese "bubble tea" means tea with tapioca.

Flumpkins (author)2008-08-21

what are those things on the bottom?

Noodle93 (author)2008-08-16

Hey look a fetus! But seriously, I'd be willing to try, Tapioca is teh goodz stuff.

About This Instructable




Bio: Bilal Ghalib is interested in doing things that surprise him and inspire others. Let's create a future we want to live in together.
More by lamedust:From Crap to Craft - How to Take Advantage of Disadvantage Robotic Music Player and Sequencer With LittleBits AKA Fruityloops IRLProsthetics Modification for Pain Relief of Pressure Points
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