Bubble tea is an Asian milk tea, uplifted by the addition of tapioca pearls. I’m a sucker for good boba, but I live 40kms from the nearest bubble tea shop! So it only makes sense that I made my own at home. And let me tell you: It was glorious!


44g chai latte instant powder

2 cups steamed milk

Tapioca pearls (“Bubbles”)

65ml water

45g muscovado sugar

110g tapioca starch

Brown sugar syrup

236ml water 

100g muscovado sugar


Mix the tea powder with the steamed milk until dissolved, then set aside to cool.

Sift the tapioca starch and make sure no large lumps remain. Pour the water and sugar into a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Stir and make sure all the sugar has melted, turn down the heat to low, and then add the tapioca starch into the pot all at once. Using a spatula, stir the pot until everything is mixed and a sticky brown dough forms. Cook this dough over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the bottom from burning.

Shaping the pearls: Scrape the dough onto a clean work surface, and split it into three roughly equal portions. The dough will be a little sticky to start , but should get easier to handle as it cools slightly. (If it’s still sticky, knead in a tablespoon or two of tapioca starch.) 

Take one of the dough portions, and cover the rest with a cloth or kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Then, roll out the piece you have into a long string, roughly 6mm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the string into 6mm pieces. Roll each little piece of dough in between the palms of your hands and shape it into balls. After you roll each ball, dust it in some tapioca starch to prevent it from sticking. Repeat until you’ve rolled out all the dough.

Boiling: Fill a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil. Add in the tapioca pearls. Stir vigorously, in the beginning, to prevent the pearls from sticking, but once they start to float, you only need to stir the pot once every few minutes. Once the pearls are cooked, transfer them into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Brown sugar syrup: To make the syrup, add the water and muscovado sugar to a small pot, and bring to a boil. Add in the tapioca pearls, and turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Let the pearls braise for 20 to 25 minutes until the syrup turns thick and syrupy. 

Assemble: To serve, spoon the tapioca pearls and syrup into the glass then add the ice cubes and chilled chai. It’s best to drink it with a thick straw so you can get at the pearls as you drink the tea.

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