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Tuesday 17 July 2012

The Boy and his Poison: Bubble Tea

Bubble tea (or Boba) is essentially and superbly-enhanced iced tea. It could be based with everything from fruit flavoured black tea to milk based green tea but it has the addition of a clutch of incredible sweetened tapioca pearls. It's these pearls which give the drink its name and its defining feature. Once you've boiled and sweetened the tapioca it turns into wonderfully viscous spheres that sweeten the tea as they pop up your straw a little like tea-flavoured gummy bears peppering every other sip.

It's an absolute breeze to make as well if you don't fancy trekking to a specialist bubble tea cafe. All you need is some pearls and, if you want the full experience, an extra wide straw. Once you have those essentials it's all a matter of finding your favourite flavour. I've gone for matcha green tea with milk in my recipe below but I've given you a few starting points for experimentation if that's not your thing.

You can pick up the tea and the straws in oriental food shops. I have a bit of a thing for Teapig's matcha green tea as well. Give that a go.

Prepare a sugar syrup:
You don't have to be too precise but it should be roughly equal parts sugar and water
  • Add 250g of sugar into a pan
  • Pour 250ml of water over it
  • Gently heat till dissolved
  • Pour into a jar
For the pearls:
Instructions vary so double check the back of your packet. For the ones I bought the method was as follows:
  • Boil your water in a small pan (about 500ml for a handful)
  • Add the pearls and gently stir until they begin to float
  • Reduce the heat to medium and put a lid on the pan for 5 minutes
  • Drain the pan into colander and rinse the pearls in cold water until they have become cool enough to handle
  • Add them to your jar of syrup and pop them up into a fridge until you're ready to use them
For the tea:
You have a wealth of options here. My favourite is matcha green tea which just needs to be mixed with some hot water, diluted with milk, sweetened with agave or honey and chilled by shaking with ice. You could also make black tea using a normal tea bag and then flavour it with a tablespoon of jam (peach works really well) shake until mixed and then shake with ice to chill.

Then make:
  • Using a teaspoon, take as many pearls as you want from your jar (I'd go for a couple of layers in the base of your glass)
  • Pour over your tea
  • Stick in one of your extra large bubble tea straws
  • Suck away. Shhhhlurrrrp.


  1. I've never had it. It gives me the heebie-jeebies.

  2. looks like the Goop the Auntie pours in Star Wars (a new hope). Not even tempted to drink it. Great blog though

  3. worth the try!! thank u for sharing the recipe

  4. ... yes - bit is a tad easier to nip down to Harvey Nicks and have one from Bubbleology !

  5. Hi, thanks from Oriental Food Shop ( for the links. We've also got matcha for sale, and there is a recipe for pearl milk tea on the blog there too.
    Siany, Neet; be brave! It tastes good!

  6. Thanks for this! I have being trying to refine my make-at-home bubble tea for a while!

    I've converted loads of people to it recently....I know it seems weird but I thought that and now I'm obsessed with it!

    Bubbleology is a good place to try it before you go the effort of making it....they have stores in Soho, Notting Hill and Harvey Nichs. Boba Jam on Shaftesbury Avenue is great too. Berlin has the best selection though by far!


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