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




About: Bilal Ghalib is interested in doing things that surprise him and inspire others. Let's create a future we want to live in together.
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

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

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.

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

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

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

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



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    77 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    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!


    6 years ago on Introduction

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


    6 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Cucumber on the coffee maker?!?!

    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


    9 years ago on Step 6

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

    3 replies

    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 :]


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    1 reply