difficulty: ***** anyone can do this
prep time: ***** like 2 mins TOPS
clock time: ***** 30 mins. No planning required

How to Boba At Home

If you don't know what boba drinks are, please go google it.


We have a few go-to favorites. They use potentially 3 different base teas, and possibly some juices, syrups, or milk (half-n-half). Plus, of course, the boba. To facilitate making drinks quickly (as fast as we can cook or reheat boba) we keep tea concentrate on-hand in 3L jugs in the fridge, plus juices, a couple bottles of Torani syrups, and the half-n-half. Drinks take very little time to prepare, and I refill the tea bottles about once per week or less.

Hard-to-find supplies can be found at Amazon, or may be available at your local asian grocery store.

Favorite recipes:

Note that all of these should be made to taste. Start with the guidance below and feel free to experiment! If you want them sweeter, use more syrup. For less sweet, try more juice or tea. If you always have boba and ice left, try less ice or boba -- and if you always run out of boba first, double up before pouring the tea.

  • Thai Iced Tea: start with ice + boba. Fill the cup to about 3/4 with thai tea concentrate (see below). Top up with half-n-half.
  • Green Fruit Teas: start with ice + boba. Fill about 3/4 with green tea concentrate (see below). Fill half the remainder with a fruit juice, and the rest with syrup or nectar. Note that you really need both a strong juice (flavor) and a sweetener, like Torani syrup or nectar. Try black strawberry (blackberry Torani + strawberry daiquiri mix), or mango apricot (mango Torani + Looza Apricot)
  • Milk Tea: start with ice + boba. Fill about 3/4 with black tea concentrate. If desired, mix in a fruit juice (strawberry milk tea), and top up with milk or half-n-half.
  • Sweet Tea Boba: ice + boba + black tea concentrate, no mixer.
  • Iced Coffee Boba: start with ice + boba. Fill about 3/4 with hot coffee, top up with half-n-half or milk. Alternately, fill halfway with cold brew and top up with milk to taste.

Tools required: AKA the Boba Kit (Amazon)

Cooking Boba

Ingredients: 5-minute boba; sugar or honey

Tools: a pyrex or microwave-safe bowl; strainer; spoon

Process: the 5-4-3 method.

  1. Fill the bowl with water, leave about an inch or so -- enough that we can add boba and not slosh hot bobawater around the kitchen. If using the microwave steamer from the kit, leave the basket in place and fill to the top of the mesh. Nuke it on full blast for 5 minutes. Some microwaves have an "express" option: just press 5 and it'll run 100% power / 5 minutes.

  2. Add about a cup of boba. If you're not sure, use a tablespoon and drop about 2 tablespoons of boba per "serving". It's not ultra scientific, I just sorta pour it in to make an underwater pile. Follow your heart. Nuke this for 4 minutes (full blast).

  3. The boba should be floating. If it's not, be sure the water is at least hot. Give it a good swish with your spoon -- we want to be sure the bobas get mixed around a bit so they all get a chance to cook. Nuke it again for 3 minutes (full blast).

  4. Transfer the bowl to the sink. Be careful, it might be hot -- the water is boiling (or very nearly so). Dump the entire contents into your strainer. If using the kit steamer, just lift the basket and dump out the hot bobawater. The balls will be a little puffy and soft.

  5. Rinse the boba under cold water. We're now trying to STOP it from cooking, so give it a good rinse for like 15-20 seconds. Note that the boba will darken and shrink when rinsed, and will turn into their shiny final form. When finished, rinse out your bowl.

  6. Transfer the now-rinsed boba back to the bowl. Cover it with sugar or honey, and stir it in. I like to pour on enough sugar that it starts to stay white over the boba -- like, keep pouring while it melts instantly, then slow down when it stays white on top. The boba will be warm and wet, the sugar (or honey) will dissolve once you stir it in. Mix it all up nicely.

That's it! The boba is now ready to serve. It can stay out for a few hours. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge. After about a day, run them through hot water or in the microwave for 30 secs (ish) to perk 'em up.

Brewing tea concentrates:

Because we mix the teas with ice, milk, and juices, they need to be pretty strong. The conc can double as "sweet tea" if cut about 25-50% with water.

Thai Tea Concentrate: make PER LITRE. If you're making 3 litres, you'll do this 3 times in a row. Add 5 tablespoons of thai tea mix and 3/4 cup sugar to a reusable coffee filter. Slowly filter 1L of water at 175F (green tea temperature). Discard the filtered tea. If necessary, repeat this cycle to fill the container. Chill.

Green Tea Concentrate: for 3L container, use 4 green tea bags + 1 cup sugar. Fill the container with hot water (175F). Steep for like 10 minutes. Remove the bags, shake, chill.

Black Tea Concentrate: for 3L container, use 4 bags of Lipton Cold Brew black tea, 2 cups sugar. Fill with cold water. Let that sit for 15-30 minutes. Remove the bags, shake, chill.

Sourcing fruit juices:

Read the labels! If you want passion fruit, be sure you're not getting pear juice with natural flavors. We don't need high-fructose corn syrup, look for actual juice content.

Kerns Nectar is good for sweetening. We like to match the nectar to the juice: mango juice goes with mango nectar, but also peach and guava are nice to mix in.

A local chef's store / restaurant supply will probably have Torani syrups and smoothie / daiquiri mix, which are great bases for flavored teas.

Publix carries imported Looza fruit juices; Apricot, Mango, and Peach are our favorites (in that order).

Your Favorite Asian Grocery may carry cans or bottles of nectars and concentrates also. Experiment!