Boba Buddha’s Taiwan Milk Tea Recipe

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Taiwanese milk tea is traditionally brewed as a very strong tea. This tea is found all around Taiwan and is the country's signature drink. Authentic Taiwanese milk tea uses creamer, but you can easily substitute heavy cream and sweetener. Sweetened tapioca pearls complete this unique bubble tea drink. 

This recipe creates authentic Taiwanese milk tea. You can use either tea bags or loose-leaf tea. If you want to use loose-leaf tea, choose one with small leaves so the flavor releases quickly. Also, heat the milk with the brewed tea in the saucepan, so the flavors meld together.

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Taiwan Milk Tea

  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x


This traditional milk tea recipe can be enjoyed iced or hot. It has a strong tea flavor thanks to the unique brewing process.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 black tea bags (or 6 tsp of loose-leaf black tea)
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca pearls
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar plus 1 cup of hot water
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream (or creamer)
  • 1 cup milk (whole milk or almond milk)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ice cubes


  1. Cook the tapioca pearls according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse briefly with cold water, and return them to the saucepan (with no heat).
  2. Cover the pearls with brown sugar and 1 cup of hot water. Stir.
  3. Allow the tapioca pearls to soak in the brown sugar syrup for 30 minutes.
  4. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, turn the heat low, and add the tea bags or leaves.
  5. Cook for 1 minute, then add the milk and the pinch of salt.
  6. Stir constantly for 1 more minute. Then, remove the tea bags or leaves and set the tea aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. To assemble the boba drink, divide the tapioca pearls between your serving glasses. Reserve the brown sugar syrup.
  8. Top with a large handful of ice.
  9. Add the heavy cream and drizzle in a spoonful or two of the reserved brown sugar syrup.
  10. Slowly pour 1/2 of the milk tea into each glass.
  11. Add a boba straw, and enjoy!
SEE ALSO:  Mango Bubble Tea Calories: What You Need to Know


  • Brew the tea in a saucepan, so you have room to add the milk. Adding the milk while the tea is brewing helps combine the flavors, creating a more robustly flavored milk tea.
  • Instead of brewing a little bit of tea for a long time, you brew lots of tea for a short time. This creates an intensely-flavored milk tea.
  • You can use different sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave. Each will add a unique taste.
  • Don’t add ice cubes to the brewed tea to cool it faster—you’ll dilute it, and the finished milk tea will be watery.
  • If you prefer hot milk tea, still allow the tapioca pearls to cool and soak but combine the ingredients while the tea and milk are still hot, and do not add ice.


  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes

What Does Taiwanese Milk Tea Taste Like?

Taiwanese milk tea tastes like sweetened milky tea. The tapioca pearls add a chewy texture and additional sweetness. The exact milk tea flavor depends on the type of tea used. Black tea, the traditional flavor, adds a strong, lightly bitter taste. Matcha or green tea adds an earthy flavor.

Is Taiwanese Milk Tea Healthy?

Taiwanese milk tea is not considered healthy. Black tea has health benefits, including lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving gut health, and reducing blood pressure, but adding sugar, milk, and tapioca pearls vastly reduces health benefits.

Reducing the amount of sugar and using low-carb milk, like coconut or almond milk, will help make Taiwanese milk tea healthier. Taiwanese milk tea should be consumed in moderation.

Does Taiwan Milk Tea Have a Lot of Caffeine?

The average serving of Taiwanese milk tea has 130 mg of caffeine in 16 ounces. In comparison, a cup of regular coffee (eight ounces) has around 95 mg of caffeine.

The robust tea flavor is one of the signatures of this tea. That is why a large amount of tea is steeped for a short time. You can adjust the brew time with other teas to change the caffeine content. However, this recipe’s brew time is so short this strategy won’t work.

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Black tea

Black tea is high in caffeine, so if you’re caffeine sensitive, consider using a different type of tea. Fruit tea, herbal tea, oolong tea, and green tea have less caffeine than black tea. You won’t get the authentic Taiwanese milk tea taste, but your caffeine consumption will be lower.

Is Taiwanese Milk Tea Traditionally Served With Tapioca Pearls?

Popular in many Asian countries, tapioca pearls, or boba pearls, are the signature of Taiwanese milk tea. Tapioca pearls are the first layer of this sweet beverage. Then ice, milk tea, and toppings are added. The tapioca balls add a chewy element to the smooth milk tea.

Taiwanese milk tea goes by many names, including pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea, and boba. There are many additional toppings or add-ins for bubble tea, including jellies, red beans, and popping boba.

Hong Kong Tea vs. Taiwan Milk Tea

Hong Kong TeaTaiwan Milk Tea
Popularized in the 1950sPopularized in the 1980s
Mixed with evaporated milk and sugarServed with creamer and sugar syrup
Commonly served hot or coldCommonly served cold
Developed from British afternoon tea and milk traditionDeveloped as a variation of street food
Does not contain tapioca pearlsServed with tapioca pearls


Sarah loves indulging in bubble tea near her home in southern Indiana. She constantly experiments with flavor combinations, but her favorite flavor is passion fruit. She enjoys experimenting in her home kitchen and hopes to one day be a pro at making her own bubble tea.

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