Travel may be a little tricky these days, but you can still traverse the globe with these delicious drink recipes to try at home. 

Today's non-alcoholic drink hails from Taiwan – Bubble Tea. 

What is it?

Take one sweet, hot, caffeinated beverage and add instant fun! Soft, squishy balls of tapioca are the magic ingredient that transform pearl tea from workaday beverage into virtual dessert. 


Who said nothing good came out of the 1980s? In Taiwan, tea-lovers reinvented the humble cup of tea with the addition of boba – dessert-style balls of tapioca – creating an Asia-wide sensation. The prototype spawned a legion of hot and cold variations made with green tea, fruit tea, juices and even coffee. As the popularity of “pearl milk tea” grew, so did the tapioca pearls, and the straws required to drink them! 

You'll need (Serves 1)

16 fl oz (500ml) water 
2 oz (60g) boba (large tapioca pearls, available from Asian supermarkets) 
3 tbs sugar syrup (for preparing the boba
1 teabag of your favourite tea 
3 tbs canned sweetened condensed milk 


Step 1: First prepare your tapioca pearls. Heat the water to a boil and slowly add the dry pearls. 
Step 2: Reduce the heat and stir gently until the pearls float to the surface. Simmer for 15 minutes on a medium heat, then allow to stand for 15 minutes. 
Step 3: Drain the pearls, mix with the sugar syrup, and set aside. 
Step 4: Next, prepare your tea the old-fashioned way, steeping a teabag in a cup of recently boiled, but not boiling, water. Set the tea aside in the fridge to chill. 
Step 5: To make your pearl tea, pour the chilled tea into a tall glass and stir in the condensed milk, then pour in your tapioca pearls. Serve with an outsized straw for slurping up the boba (or provide a long spoon). 

Tasting notes

Bubble tea is not just a drink, it’s an interactive game. You never know which sip will be sweet liquid tea, and which sip will deliver a sweet, sticky ball of tapioca. The giant straw is an integral part of the bubble tea experience, just large enough to accommodate a giant tapioca pearl. If you get lucky and slurp a pearl, you’ll get the frisson of anticipation as the flow of liquid slows, before the pearl arrives suddenly, sweet and soft, in your mouth. If you like tapioca balls, look out for variants with grass jelly and balls of aloe, sago, taro root and egg pudding. 

Other recipes:

Mango Lassi

This article was originally published in May 2020 and updated September 2020. 

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This article was first published May 2020 and updated September 2020

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