Bodacious Bubble Tea Recipe

Combine boba tapioca pearls with milk and your favorite flavors like matcha powder to create homemade bubble tea.

| September 2019

Make plenty for everyone!

Bubble tea is a well-known drink that has been popular for years. Make your own version of this delicious drink by cooking up some boba to add to your favorite tea or smoothie.

Challenge level: 2
Allergen alerts: dairy
Time: 30 minutes
Yield: around 2 cups (475 ml) smoothie or matcha tea


  • Boba
  • 2 cups (475 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (56 g) boba tapioca pearls
  • Simple Syrup
  • 2 cups (300 g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup (235 ml) water

Fruit Smoothie Bubble Tea

  • 1 cup (255 g) frozen fruit
  • 1 cup (235 ml) milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (26 g) or honey (40 g)

Matcha Bubble Tea

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1 cup (235 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (140 g) ice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (26 g) or honey (40 g)


  • 2 medium saucepans
  • Blender
  • Mixing spoon
  • Stove


Begin by cooking the boba pearls. Boil 2 cups (475 ml) water in a medium saucepan.

Add the boba pearls and stir until the tapioca begins to float to the top.

Cook the boba over medium heat for 15 minutes, then turn heat off and let them sit for another 15 minutes to keep absorbing water. While the boba sit, make simple syrup.

Make a simple syrup to sweeten the boba pearls. Add 2 cups (300 g) brown sugar to 1 cup (235 ml) water in a medium saucepan.

Boil the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

Rinse and drain the cooked boba.

Cook the boba in water, then rinse and drain.

Add the boba to the simple syrup. They will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Add syrup to sweeten and store boba.

Blend together the ingredients for either the Fruit Smoothie Bubble Tea or the Matcha Bubble Tea in the ingredients list.

Blend up a smoothie or some icy matcha tea.

Add some boba to the bottom of a clear glass and pour the bubble tea mixture over them. Taste the bubble tea. If it needs more sweetness, stir in a little bit of the simple syrup.

Add boba to a glass and pour smoothie or tea over boba.

lightbulb The Science Behind the Food:

Tapioca is made from the starchy root of the plant Manihot esculenta, commonly called manioc or cassava. The root is peeled, ground, soaked, and roasted to remove poisonous compounds, and gelatinous tapioca is collected during the process. The tapioca is processed to create uniform pearls and then dried. 

To make the tapioca the right consistency for bubble tea, it must be rehydrated using water. Boiling allows water to enter the carbohydrate matrix to form the chewy boba jellies that everyone loves.

Create and Combine:

What other smoothie or tea flavors could you combine?

Safety Tips and Hints:

Tapioca pearls are a choking hazard for kids under the age of 5.

Adult supervision required for cooking sugar syrups.

Use metal or paper bubble tea straws, if you can find them, since they’re better for the environment.

More from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids:

kitchen-science-lab-for-kidsKitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Mouth-Watering Recipes and the Everyday Science That Makes Them Taste Amazing gives you 52 delicious ways to explore food science in your own kitchen by making everything from healthy homemade snacks to scrumptious main dishes and mind-boggling desserts. When you step into your kitchen to cook or bake, you put science to work. Physics and chemistry come into play each time you simmer, steam, bake, freeze, boil, puree, saute, or ferment food. Knowing something about the physics, biology, and chemistry of food will give you the basic tools to be the best chef you can be. The "Science Behind the Food" section included with each recipe will help you understand the science concepts and nutrition behind the ingredients.

Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Mouth-Watering Recipes and the Everyday Science That Makes Them Taste Amazing by Liz Lee Heinecke and published by Quarry Books, 2019.



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