How to Prepare Boba Pearls at Home

This post was originally published in 2013. We’ve updated it with more information and photos. We are always aiming to make sure the content on our site is up to date and helpful. 🙂

Have you ever tried boba (bubble) tea before? There are all sorts of flavors and variations, but basically it’s a sweet tea, smoothie, or latte that contains boba pearls you drink along with your beverage. Boba pearls are kind of like small, gummy candies that are made of mostly tapioca. Strange, right? I think most people either end up loving it or hating it. But it’s always fun to try new things. And today I’m going to share my no-fail method for preparing boba pearls at home.

We used to serve boba tea at the our little boutique’s sweet shop many years ago, so I’ve prepared the pearls lots of times. When I was first learning to prepare boba, I found some information online to be very helpful and some not so helpful. I’ve also noticed that when I buy boba pearls sometimes the instructions on the package will vary a great deal depending on the brand (and sometimes I am unable to read it if there is not an English version). So, I’m going to share my fool-proof method for preparing boba pearls—it’s super simple!

1. Start with 2 cups of boba pearls, around 10 ounces. There’s lots of places to buy these online (and sometimes locally at Asian markets as well). Boba can only be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, although it is best when served within 12 hours of making the pearls. So only make as much as you’ll consume. Two cups is plenty for a small get-together— about 6-7 drinks.

2. Fill a large pot (the boba needs to be able to move around so they don’t stick together) about 1/2 to 2/3 full of water. Bring the water to a boil. Give it a stir and pour the boba pearls in. They should float to the surface within the first 30-45 seconds. If they don’t float you may have a bad batch or you may not have allowed the water to boil all the way before adding the boba.

3. Allow the boba to cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every so often.

4. Remove the pot from the heat and place a lid on top. Allow the boba to cook covered for an additional 2-3 minutes.

5. Strain the boba from the water and pour into a bowl/container. Add just enough cold water to cover the pearls. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar to sweeten the boba. Allow to cool before adding to drinks.

If you don’t need to use the boba pearls for more 12 hours, cover the container and refrigerate. The pearls will stick together some the longer they sit in the syrup, so give them a good stir before adding to drinks to help them unstick. You will also want to serve boba pearl drinks, bubble tea, with large straws (larger than standard size) so the pearls will fit inside the straw and can be consumed. I also like to serve them in tall skinnier glasses but you can do whatever glass you like. They also have instant versions of boba tea that come with the milk tea as well if you want to try those out for when you want a drink quickly. If you love boba tea, then try these popsicles or thai tea with boba.

Now that you know how to prepare the pearls will you be making them? Have you ever tried boba before? Love it? Hate it? Totally weird you out? Let us know your thoughts and favorite flavors. 🙂 xo. Emma

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How to Prepare Boba Pearls

Course Drinks
Author Emma Chapman

Ingredients

  • 2 cups boba pearls
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • water

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot (the boba needs to be able to move around so they don’t stick together) about 1/2 to 2/3 full of water. Bring the water to a boil. Give it a stir and pour the boba pearls in. They should float to the surface within the first 30-45 seconds. If they don’t float you may have a bad batch or you may not have allowed the water to boil all the way before adding the boba.

  2. Allow the boba to cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every so often.

  3. Remove the pot from the heat and place a lid on top. Allow the boba to cook covered for an additional 2-3 minutes.

  4. Strain the boba from the water and pour into a bowl/container. Add just enough cold water to cover the pearls. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar to sweeten the boba. Allow to cool before adding to drinks.

Recipe Notes

If you don’t need to use the boba pearls for more 12 hours, cover the container and refrigerate. The pearls will stick together some the longer they sit in the syrup, so give them a good stir before adding to drinks to help them unstick.

Boba can only be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, although it is best when served within 12 hours of making the pearls— so only make as much as you’ll consume.

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman
  • I was just talking about making our own bubble tea drinks with my boyfriend, so this came at just the right time! I’m excited to try this!

  • I feel like there was a missed an opportunity to highlight the origins of boba and the culture who created it.

  • Ohhh, this looks so good. Always wanted to try out boba pearls/drink. Thanks for sharing!

  • While I’ve never personally have had boba tea before because I have always been sceptical of whether or not I’d like it, I have always been facinated by it at the same time. Thanks to you I can make my very own & finally try it?

  • I love boba!! Wish I could drink it everyday if I could but realized I could be saving A LOT of money if I made it at home. Thanks for the tips – can’t wait to try!!

    • 5 stars
      It def can save money. Plus it’s a really fun party trick for get-togethers (whenever that happens again. sigh)

  • So glad for this article! I just followed the steps and I’m drinking home made green milk tea boba! So delicious! I used honey instead of brown sugar because that was all I had lol

  • Can you use just regular white tapioca pearls, or does it have to be the boba tapioca?

    thanks!

    • You can use either one, but I think the boba will have a little more flavor! 🙂

  • I experienced this tea in Munich some days ago whee the new American shop called bubblekitchen just opened its doors. It was a discovery though I could not get used to it immediately. The different fruit tastes of the boba-like balls where quiet sweet. And the real boba was like chewing gum!
    Anyway, a great experience and lots of fun for my friend who thought I was crazy. Enjoy!

  • Love it!! I just bought some tapioca flour to make some boba from scratch!

  • I love boba! I finally bought some of the pearls myself but I haven’t taken time to make it.

  • Ah! Boba tea was such a craze in cali a few years ago! To think I could have been making it at home. Now a search for the perfect passion fruit tea…

  • That’s so funny, in my area we call it bubble tea! I love it, it’s so delicious! One of my favourites has been lychee!

  • So interesting! I’d like to try this!
    There’s a great Vietnamese bahn mi trailer here in Austin that has really good Cardamom bubble tea. If you’re still here, you should try to check it out! It’s called Lulu B’s and it’s on S. Lamar. They have an amazing Lemongrass Tofu sandwich too!

  • I am obsessed with boba! Thank you for the instructions, I can’t wait to try to make it at home!!

  • Thank you for this recipe. I absolutely love bubble tea and definitely try out this recipe soon.

  • I had never had boba until I moved to college, where they had a boba stand in the student union. I LOVED it!! I used to get a green tea or coconut smoothie with boba before class, yum. My husband HATES drinks with what he calls “debris” in it, haha, so I am the only boba drinker in our household 🙂

  • i work at a bakery and we make bubble tea too! our most popular is a jasmine milk tea, and we make our own burnt sugar syrup. 🙂 our boba recipe seems about the same as yours, so i’m glad our method is tried-and-true by you 😀

  • THANK YOU so much for sharing this! I love bubble tea and I’ve always wondered how I could make it at home.

    My family is going to love you for this… it’s our favourite treat.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

  • Thank you for posting this! My daughter has been asking me about making boba tea at home. 🙂

  • Please Please do a almond milk and coconut ! Its sooooo amazing but i have no idea where to get the almond milk powder or coconut powder that the boba shops use. Its an amazing combo especially because it is a natural coconut and not that imitation blue type of coconut flavor. Love y’all!

  • OMG! I love this post. I am a huge fan of bubble tea but never thought to make it at home. Thanks for the step by step tutorial. I love drinking large glasses of un-sweet tea in the summer. Throwing in some boba in the glass will make the tea a special treat. Can’t wait for the boba recipes to come.

    -Marcella from Broadappetite.com

  • I absolutely love Bubble Tea…we could previously only get it in London (which we visit often for business) or Glasgow (but I moved to Northern Ireland some years ago)… I’m so delighted there’s somewhere in Belfast now selling Bubble Tea, I don’t have to leave!! 😉

    …we’re obsessed. I like a vanilla black milk tea with regular boba + passionfruit popping boba, or melon milk tea with lychee popping boba on top.

    Excited to try it at home! 🙂 x

  • I actually tried my first bubble tea (it was milk tea with tapioca pearls) in Chinatown last week… and I hated it! I really wanted to like it, but the taste was just very strange, and the sensation of sucking up the pearls was nauseating. Ahh.. I really thought I would love it and become bubble tea connoisseurs like you guys, but I guess it wasn’t to be. :s

  • Oh I bought some pearls in Chinatown and wasn’t able to cook them properly (they were hard, even after cooking them), but I will definitely try your recipe! Thanks!

  • I just don´t like bubble tea. I tried it once, to find out what everyone was talking about, and wasn´t very amused. But I think it´s cool that it can be prepared at home too, so the bubble tea store cane be skipped easily if you want some.

  • Oh I love boba tea so much. In Singapore we have it with milk tea and ice cold to combat the hot weather here. A great drink to beat the summer heat. Thanks for sharing!

    xo Zesi

    http://allaboutbeingamummy.org/

  • My absolute favorite is having this with sweetened coconut milk. So good!

    www.flat3-6.blogspot.no

  • Had Bacardi and lemon with strawberry boba cocktail in the airport at the end of a holiday! Absolutely loved it!

  • thanks I was wondering do you guys still have the sweet shop in your store?

  • I came into your shop once (being a local) because I’d heard you all had this and wanted to try it, but I guess it was after the sweet shop closed. Can you buy these in the Springfield area? Do you know of anyone else who sells boba tea ready to drink?

  • i LOVE boba/bubble tea/tapioca drinks (depending on where I’m at), and consider myself somewhat of a snob, especially when it comes to the flavor and texture of the pearls. So excitd to see you talking about it here! 🙂

  • I love drinking bubble tea, it’s such a horrible addiction. I’ve always wanted to learn to make my own to save money but never got around to learning how to prepare the pearls. Definite thanks for the lesson!

  • Thank you for this post! I have a toddler who loves the idea of boba drinks much more than the actual product, so now I can just make her a small batch at home instead of lugging her around town and wasting money on a store-made boba she never really likes.

    www.nearlycrafty.com

  • I’ve heard info on bubble tea about it being a possible carcinogen… not sure if its definitely true, but theres some articles out there.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/tapioca-pearls-bubble-tea-carcinogens-polychlorinated-biphenyls-pcbs-article-1.1148110

  • Oh wow! I love bubble tea so much and making my own sounds like so much fun!! Thanks for this <3

  • Boba is everywhere in Singapore! Everyone loves it.

    http://www.ravenmaidenmaven.blogspot.com

  • I like a small amount of pearls in my smoothie/drink, not too many or it’s tiresome to keep chewing as I drink! My fave is almond milk tea (from Joy Yee’s in Chicago).

  • I’ve never even heard of these- now I’m inspired to hunt some down! I imagine the texture is a bit weird at first, but if it tastes good I might be able to get over it! 🙂

  • I am so excited about this! My favorite bubble tea EVER was the peach kind from Red Velvet. I went to the shop on my birthday a couple years ago and drank an embarrassing amount of that bubble tea. 😉

  • Oh wow! I haven’t had Boba in ages. Thanks for sharing this! You rock.

  • I LOVE boba! We have a super awesome local place here in the SF Bay Area, and it is a huge hit. Like, line out the door and down the block kind of hit. There are tons of boba places here, but that is by far the most popular!

    My favorite is mango black milk tea 🙂 I like milk tea more than just regular tea for some reason!

    Thanks for sharing and this new series sounds great! Can’t wait to make some at home 🙂

    xoxo Jess
    Foreign Room

  • I LOVE boba drinks! There’s a really great Thai restaurant right across the road from my apartments, and they have such a huge selection of flavors. Thank you so much for posting this! I can’t wait to see the upcoming tea recipes!

  • I have literally 50 boba places within a 10 minute drive of my apartment, but nothing beats being able to make your own at home 🙂 I prefer using honey instead of brown sugar, and most often add it to either thai tea or vietnamese coffee at home.

    And now, I’m craving boba!!

  • I became obsessed with boba tea while living in South Korea. I’ve found only one place that serves it near me, so it’s lovely to be able to make this at home.
    xx Abby
    www.ageektragedy.net

  • YAY!! I love bubble tea. Can’t wait to see if our Asian market carries boba.

  • I have never tried bubble tea before. It seems so strange to me that while you’re drinking you have to eat/swallow those little pearls. I would love to try it though!

    http://sincerelylara.com

  • I guess Tapioca an Boba Pearls are the same… If so… Yes! I’ve tried them…! But not in a drink… I’ve had it in a dessert that tasted just like rice pudding… in fact, I think it was the same recipe of rice pudding replacing rice with boba pearls…
    I’ll seek for them… so I can give them a try in some iced tea… Looks too cute and funny to pass up!! ♥

  • I’ve never heard or seen Bobs pearls before so I’m intrigued to see what these are like. Looks yummy to say the least 🙂

    Lulu xx

    http://luluslittlewonderland.blogspot.com

  • I wish I liked bubble tea, but the taste/texture of the pearls just creeped me out the 2 times I’ve had it before. Maybe I need to try the flavoured pearls that they have.

  • I love this recipe, I recently try this kind of tea and I love it! The one I try was with milk and it was awesome :)My grandapa used to eat and drink boba pearls. In my country boba pearls are called tapioca. Thanks for the recipe and the nice memory, caro.

  • I definitely will try to make this, I have tried it so many times but I did not have a clue about how to make it.
    Would you recommend me a nice online store where I can buy the bubbles?

    Thanks!!!

  • Yumm, I adore boba tea thanks so much for sharing!

    www.beblacknblue.blogspot.co.uk
    www.beblacknblue.blogspot.co.uk

  • I often go to ChinaTown in Ottawa (Canada’s capital) for bubble tea….but we call those “pearls” Tapioca pearls not boba.

  • Love me some bubble tea! I’ve never made it at home though. Thanks for the tips!

    Alex from www.polkadottedpixels.com

  • This post just made my day!! I have already stopped twice to get boba tea this week! Oh my golly goshers thanks for posting this!

  • Do you ladies happen to order them online? If so, do you have a vendor your recommend? Thanks! I’d love to make these at home!

  • I love bubble tea and was so sad when our local shop closed. It’s the first thing I asked my husband to bring to the hospital after I had my son. 🙂

  • Bubble tea is one of my favorite drinks! I first had it about 5 years ago in Taiwan and now flip out anywhere I can find it stateside!

  • This just made my day!! I’ve already had boba tea twice this week! Oh my golly goshers!!

  • I love Bubble tea and boba! Thanks for the recipe!

    http://annescribblesanddoodles.blogspot.com/

  • Ack! I’m a little weirded out. Oh my ladies…what do you do with them? Do you eat them? Is it just for flavor? I’m not sure how I would feel about little eggy things in my drinks. Its good though? I may have to try it but it may feel a bit like Fear Factor to me..lol! Love your blog!!

  • I had no idea you could make them at home! I like the pearls in small quantities, but after too many I get kind grossed out. 😛

    http://www.fullbellywornsoles.com

  • I love boba and who knew it was so easy to make! I had no idea you could get it online or at an Asian market. Yay for new ideas, thanks!

  • Oh how fun! I would love to try making these! Yum!

    xo, Juliette Laura
    http://juliettelaura.blogspot.com
    http//www.etsy.com/shop/InfiniteStyleShop

  • I used to work in a coffee shop that served them. We called them boba teas, bubble teas, and milk teas. They’re also fun with cold coffee drinks instead of tea!

    I’ve always cooked them in a rice cooker but I think everyone does it a little differently. We brought the water to a boil on the highest setting and let them cook on high for a half hour and then let them sit on warm for another half hour (stirring occasionally to prevent sticking). Rinse them under cold water and you’re set 🙂

  • Bobba pearls sound amazing!

    http://talisatalksbeauty.blogspot.com/2013/08/best-spot-treatment-panoxyl-aquagel.html

  • I love making homemade boba… my favorite is green milk tea (matcha green tea powder, milk, honey).

    So much fun!!

    <3 dani
    www.shopdisowned.com
    http://blog.shopdisowned.com

  • Hi Elsie and Emma!

    I <3 reading your blog and am excited to see this recipe. I used to work for an authentic Asian cafe where I specifically made bubble tea all day long 🙂

    A fun fact about bubble tea that I thought I’d share: bubble tea actually isn’t called bubble tea because of the boba (which most people think), but is actually called bubble tea because you’re supposed to shake the tea (like a martini) to infuse air into the tea. The woman who trained me shared this fun fact and most of my friends think it’s neat when I tell them.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us!

  • Same thing as tapioca tea right? Nifty!! I’ll have to search for some.. not much of an asian population out here in Arkansas.

  • This sounds so interesting that it´s maybe a great alternative for our good Bavarian beer 😉

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    www.dressedwithsoul.blogspot.de

  • Oooh, yum! I love me some bubble tea. And I live where it’s easy peasy to get some – thanks for the directions, I want to try to make my own boba now! 🙂

  • Thanks for this! I’ve tried making them at home and bombed. We love boba, so now I’ll have to try again.

  • I love bubble tea! It’s so lovely, and i love how you can have it in so many flavours and variations! xxx

    holljc.blogspot.co.uk

  • Does everywhere in the states say Boba instead of bubble tea ? Anyways, I definitely never knew how to make it at home so I am loving post. Keep the recipes coming !! 🙂

    www.futurelawyergirl.com

  • Living in Singapore, I would get boba tea ALL the time! Since it originated in Taiwan, we got some of the real deal stuff around just about every corner! Can’t wait to try making my own x

  • There’s a very high filipino population where I live so this is nothing new.

  • It’s called Bubble Tea here, I never knew it was called Boba as well. I never tried it but I heard so much negative stuff about it. I guess homemade sweet tea with pearls is a lot healthier!

  • I looove boba tea! I grew up in asia, so I drank it very very often. Though I have to admit I often ask them to remove the pearls, it gets a bit too starchy for my liking after a while.

  • I always wondered what it actually was that was in the tea! I just might try it now that it isn’t so mysterious.

    Sarah

  • Is that what is used for bubble tea ? it looks like it.
    thanks a lot for the recipe, we’ve been wanting to try for years.

  • Love that you’re telling more people about pearl tea.

    Just wanted to pass along an FYI – Pearl tea originated from Taiwan, and “boba” actually means “big breast/nipple” in Mandarin. It would probably be better to refer to the pearls as tapioca pearls instead of boba pearls.

  • We love boba or tapioca pearls (we know them under that name) but could never get them right. Especially in Milk Tea. Will try this way of cooking them 🙂
    Thanks for sharing

  • I LOVE boba! I will admit, the very first few times I tried it, I thought the texture was weird. But then something strange happened…I found myself craving it. That is how my addiction to boba drinks began and it’s still going strong probably…a decade later. =P My favorite are coffee frap like drinks with boba. Must try!

  • I absolutely love boba tea! I like getting it in a smoothie so the pearls freeze up a little bit when you drink them. My favourite flavours are mango, strawberry-banana, and taro.

  • I love boba and haven’t had it in a long time. I’m thinking it’s time for me to try it at home! Thanks for the post!

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