Pearls of Wisdom: How to Make Boba Tea at Home

One of the many things I miss about going to school in San Francisco is the sweet sweet refreshing taste of getting overpriced boba tea on a hot day, or really any day. Growing up in Boston I had honestly never had boba before, but my eyes soon opened to the wondrous world of toppings and flavors when I visited Bay Area classics like Tpumps, Boba Guys and my personal favorite, Purple Cow. But, let's be honest – it's hard to find quali-tea boba everywhere. In Chicago I live 20 minutes away from my boba fix, and it’s $8 – yikes! In the following steps, I will tell you how to make boba at home, so you can indulge without traveling or breaking the bank, and save some single-use plastic while you are at it. 

Disclaimer: I did not invent this, and this will not be the same as a boba place  – but it does hit the spot. 

Supplies: 

This is a project that does require a bit of investment, around $30. That might seem pricey but, ultimately yielding probably over 200 cups of boba tea, I think it is worth it. 

Tapioca Pearls – I bought this great 2lb deal from Amazon, but you can find these in any Asian store like Hmart ($19).

Boba Straws – These are honestly a great investment, I also use them for smoothies. I bought this 10 straw bundle, and you can also find these in major stores like Target ($7).

Fruity Black tea or Milk Tea Mix – This is where you can get creative! What flavors do you like? Or what flavors do you want to mix? So far I have been loving peach black tea, and have also used instant matcha mix from Hmart. ($0.15 / teabag if the box is $3).

Splash of Milk/ Creamer of Your Choice – Any milk you want, obviously the creamier the more realistic it will be to your boba shop fav. Honestly, I recommend Half-and-Half or similar, and you probably already have some in the fridge!

Honey or Brown Sugar – Again, the choice is up to you. Both are delicious and you might already have them in your pantry. 

Ice – Probably in your freezer.

Assembly:

Okay, boba time!

  1. 1. Pearl Prep

    Take a bunch of pearls, I usually like around 15, and put them in a small pot with two to three inches of water,or whatever the instructions say, and let them simmer away for around 5 minutes. Sometimes I cut this step short, but I always regret it! Let the pearls go for 5 minutes (maybe even longer) or else they will be gritty and sandy when you slurp them.

  2. 2. Tea Time

    While the pearls are bubbling, brew your black tea or drink mix, and set it aside to cool either in your fridge or on the counter.

  3. 3. Pearl Prep (Part 2)

    When the pearls are nice and rehydrated, soft and squishy, strain them and in either a separate bowl or the small pot combine them with your sweetener of choice. I like to use around a half tablespoon of brown sugar, or a full tablespoon of honey – this depends on how sweet you like your tea to be! Personally, I am a less is more kind of person. Roughly stir to combine the boba and sweetener until the boba are soaking in a sugary syrup. I like to let them soak for a few minutes before moving on.

  4. 4. Beverage Assembly

    Once you have your sugary pearls and tea brewed cooling on the side, go ahead and pour the pearls into your glass of choice – spooning the sugar syrup up as you go to coat the inside of the glass in sweetness. 

    After that, pour in half the amount of cooled tea you want and add in your ice cubes. Finish adding the amount of tea that you want, and top off with a generous splash of creamer! 

    Wow – your tea looks amazing! Now just add your big boba straw and give it a swirl to combine! 

While I know this process is far from original, and will never fill the boba shaped hole in your heart left by leaving your favorite spots – I hope that it can provide a yummy treat that hits the spot. This recipe is totally customizable and there are so many ways to combine the ingredients. You can try bursting boba, flavor jelly or different milks like banana or strawberry – even adding boba to iced coffee is amazing. This recipe is yours to make!