4 Main Components of Bubble Tea (And a Plethora of Recipes!)

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Bubble tea originated in Taiwan but has become popular worldwide in recent years. Traditional bubble tea comprises a tea base, milk, sweetener, and tapioca pearls. While there are hundreds of variations to try, they will all include some form of these four ingredients.

What Are the Ingredients of Bubble Tea?


Tea is the base of most boba drinks. Black tea is used in traditional bubble tea, but nowadays, you can use any tea. Jasmine, oolong tea, and green tea are great in fruit teas. Assam and chai are heavily spiced and delicious in milk teas. Matcha has a strong earthy flavor and also makes a delightful milk tea base.

The tea flavor you use will determine the caffeine in your Taiwanese tea. Boba teas range from 0 mg to 100 mg of caffeine per serving.


Boba drinks are usually very sweet; some are even served as desserts. To sweeten your boba tea, you can choose from several sweeteners like brown sugar, honey, simple syrup, and cane sugar. Or, if you prefer sugar-free, you could request an artificial sweetener such as Stevia.


Though not all bubble tea recipes call for creamer, traditional bubble tea drinks are made with some type of milk or cream, which may be fresh or powdered. Fruit teas and vegan boba drinks often use fruit juice or syrups instead of creamer.

Boba Pearls

Though there are several other options for toppings, a traditional boba drink contains chewy tapioca pearls made from tapioca starch derived from the cassava root. The most popular black tapioca pearls are cooked and soaked in brown sugar syrup.

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Brown sugar tapioca pearls

What Type of Creamer Do Most Bubble Tea Shops Use?

Many boba shops in America and Taiwan use non-dairy powdered creamer because it has a long shelf life and is cheaper than fresh dairy products. However, like other components of bubble tea, you can usually request a specific type of creamer.

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Some popular options include the following:

  • Whole milk
  • Oat milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Half and half

What Is the Most Common Sweetener Used in Bubble Tea?

There are several options for sweeteners, but some of the most common include cane sugar and simple syrup (made from white sugar or brown sugar) because they add a naturally sweet flavor. Fructose, taken from the juice of fruits, is another popular option. Honey is another natural option, but it may not give you the sweetness you desire.

Are All Bubble Teas Creamy?

There are many bubble tea recipes, not all of which include milk. Boba drinks can fall into two main categories:

  • Teas (not containing milk)
  • Milk teas (containing milk/creamer)

Teas without milk won’t be creamy like bubble milk teas are. Another option is a boba smoothie. These can be made with or without milk, similar to fruit smoothies or slushies.

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Lemon-mint fruit bubble tea with tapioca pearls

What Are the Most Common Bubble Tea Toppings?

There are so many delicious options for bubble tea toppings. Some of the most popular include:

  • Brown sugar tapioca balls
  • Popping boba (with fruit flavors)
  • Jelly (coconut jelly, grass jelly, lychee jelly, and aloe jelly are some of our favorites)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Egg pudding
  • Taro balls

The best part of boba drinks is that they are versatile. You can get creative and try all sorts of different toppings to see which you like best!

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Various popping boba flavors

Is It Difficult to Make Boba Tea at Home?

Not at all! To make bubble tea at home, you need a few ingredients and a few pieces of equipment (typically a shaker or blender, a serving glass, and a boba straw). You can serve bubble tea shop-worthy drinks in the comfort of your own home.

SEE ALSO:  Boba Buddha’s Kefir and Pineapple Boba Tea Recipe

Keep in mind that loose-leaf teas are of higher quality than tea bags. They will add richness and depth of flavor to your finished boba milk tea.

Here are some great recipes to get you started:

Additionally, we have a great recipe here if you want to make homemade tapioca pearls.

Margaret Dunn

After recently discovering bubble tea, Margaret is addicted. Thai iced tea with coffee jelly and lychee fruit tea with popping boba are her favorite combinations so far. She is currently working on a few homemade healthy versions of her favorite flavors that will satisfy her sweet tooth all the same.

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