A combination of Thai Tea and Bubble Tea, this easy Boba Tea Recipe is fun, delicious, and the perfect summertime drink. Learn all about Boba and How to Make Thai Bubble Tea right at home using just a handful of simple, delicious, easy-to-find ingredients like tea, milk, and sugar.
Boba! Also known as bubble tea. A rich, creamy, ice-cold, and utterly irresistible drink that is all the rage these days.
Who knows how to make bubble tea? If you do, awesome! If you don’t, even better because here you will find everything you need to know about Boba Tea, including a recipe for Thai Tea Boba. Creamy, sweet, and bright orange, Thai Tea Boba is guaranteed to be your new favorite summer beverage.
What is Boba?
Boba, often synonymous with bubble tea, are actually the little black balls that sink to the bottom of your bubble tea.
Boba is made from partially cooked tapioca flour- the refined starch extracted from the cassava root. Boba is gluten-free and, in its natural state, flavorless. Loved for its chewy texture, Boba can be added to both hot and cold drinks including hot teas or smoothies.
What is Thai Iced Tea?
In its simplest form- black tea, condensed milk, and crushed ice (no orange color and no spices).
But then Westernized cultures got involved…
How is Thai Tea different from Regular Black Tea?
Unlike black tea, Thai Tea is bolder and more flavorful. So what’s responsible for all this amazing concentrated flavor?
Thai Tea is infused with star anise and cloves and sweetened with sugar or sweetened condensed milk.
Thai tea can be made two ways-
- From a pre-made tea mix which includes the coloring and the spices mixed in with the black tea.
- Or from simple, plain, strong black tea (more traditional).
That bright orange color and all those spices? Those were added when Thai tea became more and more popular in Westernized cultures in order to set it apart from regular, plain black tea (aka marketing). In fact, in the early years of westernized Thai iced tea, chefs would add orange food coloring to really give it a bright orange hue.
The Thai boba recipe I am sharing here today was made using a mix. After all, I’m American and this is what I know best.
Ingredients in Thai Bubble Tea
- Tea. For this bubble tea recipe, I used a Restaurant Style Thai Iced Tea Mix. It comes with the spices, tea, and coloring all mixed together and really does taste nearly identical to restaurant Thai Iced Tea (depending, of course, on how much cream and sugar you decide to add). There are other mixes available, so check them out and read reviews if you’re unsure. I can’t speak for them personally.
- Milk. I like to use whole milk or half-and-half whenever I make boba. Heavy cream is too heavy and low-fat milk doesn’t quite add enough creaminess that milk tea should have. Dairy milk and creamer, or full-fat coconut milk are my top picks, but other plant-based milk alternatives (soy, almond, walnut) will work, too. Sweetened condensed milk, while very common to Thai tea, is too sweet for me, but feel free to give it a try if you prefer a sweeter drink.
- Sweetener. The benefit of making boba at home is that you can add as much or as little sugar as you like. The total amount will vary depending on the type of milk you use, how long you steep your tea, and, most of all, personal preference. In this recipe, I used granulated white sugar, but simple syrup, honey, or agave would also work.
- Ice. Of course, these days bubble tea may come either hot or cold. However, in this case, you’ll need ice. Depending on how cool your tea gets will determine how much ice you’ll need.
- Tapioca Pearls. Finally, Boba. This is the boba that I used to make this bubble tea recipe. It is the fast-cooking kind, which means that they don’t take over an hour to cook. In fact, they take just 5-10 minutes. There is one very important thing to note about quick-cooking tapioca pearls- do not make them ahead of time. You will notice that after just 1-2 hours that they will start to stiffen and dry out (the complete opposite effect of what we’re going for).
How to Make Thai Boba Tea
- Prepare the tea first. The first thing you want to do is prepare the tea. To accomplish this, bring approximately 5 cups of water just to a boil. Add the loose tea and the sugar and mix well to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover. Steep for approximately 15-20 minutes. Thai tea, in general, is much more bitter than regular tea.
- For this recipe, I added approximately 1 tablespoon of sugar per glass of bubble tea. Feel free to add more or less to suit your own personal taste and preference.
- If you’re worried about time and you want your bubble tea as soon as possible you may either prepare the tea ahead of time or transfer the steeping tea to the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process. That said, you want to let your Thai tea steep for at least 15 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer and cool. Since the Thai tea mix is loose leaf tea (not tea bags), you will need to strain it to separate the tea from the solids. Immediately after, transfer to the refrigerator to cool.
- Prepare the Boba (Tapioca Balls) – Since we’re using the quick-cooking tapioca pearls, there’s no need to make them ahead of time. In fact, you don’t want to make them ahead of time otherwise you risk them drying out and stiffening. Approximately 15 minutes before you plan to serve your bubble tea, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the boba and stir well to prevent them from clumping and sticking together. Allow the boba to cook for approximately 5-7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water – don’t worry, they won’t fall apart. You may transfer them back to the original pot or to a clean serving bowl.
- Assemble! Grab four glasses (any glass will work, just make sure they’re large enough to hold approximately 2 cups or so) and divide the cooked boba between them. Fill each glass with ice and pour approximately 1 – 1 1/2 cups room Thai Tea into each. Add approximately 2-3 (or more) tablespoons of milk or half-and-half to each glass and stir well to combine. Taste for sweetness. All good? Or does it need a little more?
- Serve. Once your glasses have been prepared and tasted for sweetness it’s time to serve and enjoy!
Tips + Tricks
- Be safe. Tapioca balls, while fun to chew, are also a choking hazard. Especially for kids. As such, I recommend serving with both a reusable straw and a long spoon which can scoop out all those delicious boba balls.
- This bubble tea recipe is best enjoyed as soon as possible, or, at the very least, on the same day.
- If you want an extra cold bubble tea, combine the milk, tea, and a few ice cubes (but not the boba!) in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously (like you would if you were making a cocktail) and pour into a glass filled with boba and ice. This is actually the more “traditional” way of making bubble tea (shaking, rather than stirring, that is).
- Serve with large boba straws or long spoons.
If you try making this Thai Bubble Tea, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
For more Asian-inspired recipes check out,
- Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
- 10 Minute Garlic Bok Choy Recipe << reader favorite!
- Sesame Ginger Shrimp Bowls with Asian Chopped Greens
- Easy Korean Beef Bibimbap Recipe (Mixed Rice)
- Ginger Garlic Noodle Soup with Bok Choy (Bok Choy Soup)
- Kimchi Ramen Noodle Soup
- Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef Lettuce Wraps
- Easy Chicken Stir Fry Recipe with Bok Choy
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Boba Tea Recipe (How to Make Thai Bubble Tea)
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup Pantai Thai Tea Mix
- ¼ cup granulated sugar - plus more to taste
- 8.8 ounces (1 bag) quick-cooking tapioca pearls
- 1 cup half and half - or milk of choice (full-fat coconut milk, sweetened condensed, evaporated, etc.)
- Prepare the Thai tea. Bring five cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the Pantai Thai Tea Mix and the sugar. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for two minutes or so before removing from heat. Allow tea to steep for approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Strain the tea. Strain your Thai tea through a fine mesh strainer to separate solids and set aside. To speed up cooling, place your tea in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Prepare the Boba. Approximately 15 minutes before serving, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls (boba) and stir immediately to prevent them from sticking together. Allow them to cook for approximately 5-7 minutes (they should be floating on the top and have a chewy texture). Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a clean bowl.
- Assemble you Thai Tea Boba. Divide the cooked boba between four drinking glasses and top with ice. Pour approximately 1 cup of Thai tea into each glass and top with approximately 3-4 tablespoons of milk or half-and-half. Mix well to combine and taste for sweetness. If desired, add additional sugar or sweetener until desired sweetness is reached. Serve with large boba straws or long spoons.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
Amanda Cowan says
I boiled 5 cups of water, and after straining, I only had about a cup and a half of tea. Am I doing something wrong? Please help
Jessica Randhawa says
I can’t say exactly because I was not there with you when you made the recipe.
The 5 cups of water is for step 1:
Prepare the Thai tea. Bring five cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the Pantai Thai Tea Mix and the sugar. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for two minutes or so before removing from heat. Allow tea to steep for approximately 15-20 minutes.
After bringing the water to a boil, did you “Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer for two minutes or so before removing from heat”?
Don’t you want to change the amount of boba to be cooked? An entire bag would be way too much.
Jessica Randhawa says
The recipe as written is for 4 drinks, Karen. You can use click on the “SERVINGS” to scale it down to one or two as needed 🙂
Just what I was looking for!