[VIDEO] Friday Drink Day: Earl Grey Milk Tea (Bubble Tea)

Bubble Tea, Milk Tea, Boba Tea… call it however you want to, either way this is a refreshing, creamy, milky iced cold milk tea. Say hello to Earl Grey Boba Milk Tea

Boba Milk Tea

Today I found myself craving for Milk Tea. I wouldn’t say that I am crazy about milk tea, because I am not. Today is just on of those hot day and all I can think of is a refreshing cold beverage on my hand while relaxing in my patio. If you are following my posts, you’ve probably seen some of my Friday drink days posts, a lot of them are fruit based drinks which I always find perfect to make use of Summer fruits. So this milk tea is a lot different, no fruits here but this is an equally refreshing delicious quench thirsting drink. Milk tea or Bubble Tea is quite famous in Asian countries, and now they’re all over the places. I find them quite interesting, and I love the huge pearls added to them. Some like in Starbucks, they do not have tapioca pearls in the milk tea which I also find quite nice. 

Early Grey Boba Tea

What is Tapioca Pearl?

Tapioca Pearl, also known as ‘Boba’ are translucent spheres made from tapioca, a starch extracted from cassava root. They are quite famous in Asian cuisine, and are used when making drinks like milk tea or bubble tea. They are also use for making desserts like Asian style shaved ice desserts. They come in different size: mini, small, medium and large. They also come in black, white and sometimes, multi colored like for the case of mini tapioca. They become translucent once cooked. In terms of taste, tapioca pearl as is doesn’t have a taste, but they provide additional texture to the drink and a pleasing presentation too. The flavor comes from the drink itself, but they can be sweetened as well.

How to Cook Tapioca Pearl?

Tapioca Pearls come in different sizes and colors. There’s mini tapioca that are great for mixing with rice pudding, and then there’s medium and large sizes that are great to mix with drinks like this milk tea or for use in shaved ice desserts. They are available in multi colored when raw like the mini ones and they may come in white or black like the one I used here. Once cooked, they becomes transluscent.

This was my first time cooking Tapioca Pearls for mixing with drinks like this. I was relying on package instructions for cooking directions. Surprisingly, 3 of the brands that I saw in the Asian do not have any cooking instructions and so I ended up using google to find out how to do it. Some people soak the pearls overnight and some simply boil it. I decided to boil mine because I was so anxious to make this drink. So this is how I did it

More Water is Always Better

Pour 5 cups of water in a pan: this may sound a lot for 1/4 cup of tapioca pearls, but really, it is not. Tapioca pearls are quite starchy when boiedl for a long period of time. Using less water will make tapioca stick/clump together. So for this case, more is better than less. You can add more water as needed if you noticed that the water is not enough. Once you have the water in the pan, bring water to a full boil.

Tapioca Pearl Almost Double When Cooked

Scoop 1/4 up of raw tapioca pearls and put them in the boiling water. Cover and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes in medium heat. Check every 20-30 minutes and stir to avid clumping. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of tapioca pearl you are using. I was surprised that this black tapioca pearls although medium size took more than 1 hour to cook. The tapioca will expand after cooking, yielding more than 1/3 cup but not more than 1/2 cup once cooked. You can add more water as needed.

How to Tell When Tapioca Pearls are Cooked?

Is it ready yet? To tell if the tapioca is ready, the pearls should be completely translucent. If you still see some solid white portion in the center, it is not done yet. You can also try to eat few pieces, it should be soft and chewy and you shouldn’t feel any hard uncooked piece. Once fully cooked, rinse with cold water and transfer in a bowl.

How to Sweeten Tapioca Pearls?

To sweeten the tapioca pearls, I simply add some honey or maple syrup after rinsing it. I prefer cooking the tapioca pearl in advance as this gives time for the pearls to soak in the honey, plus it is or less thing to do considering the length of time it takes to cook it. Once you have this, store it in the refrigerator and use whenever you feel like making a homemade milk tea. 

How to Flavor Tapioca Pearls?

I added vanilla extract in the tapioca pearls to give it a nice flavor. Tapioca pearls are bland, it doesn’t have any taste. I find that the honey plus the vanilla extract really gave it a nice flavor.

Make-Ahead Tapioca Pearls

Since tapioca pearl takes quite some time to cook, I suggest cook a bigger batch to maximize the time. You can make s big batch of 1 cup raw, that would yield close to 2 cups when cook. Add sweetener and flavoring then transfer in a covered jar and refrigerate. Enjoy! 

Early Grey Bubble Tea

This version is just a simple Earl Grey Milk Tea with Tapioca Pearl. You can definitely make it without the tapioca pearls, it is as delicious. What I like about making my own milk tea is that I can customize it to my preference. Although a lot of shops also offers now customization of milk tea. The type of milk, the consistency and the sweetness level can now be adjusted, which is awesome. The last time I bought it outside, medium sweetness turned out to be quite bland for me. So this homemade milk tea is a great option for picky drinker like me, plus they are 100% budget friendly. 

What are the Ingredients for Earl Grey Boba Milk Tea

  • Milk – any milk will work, even non-dairy just bear in mind that the higher fat percentage there is, the creamier the milk tea
  • Earl Grey Tea – Any black tea (like Earl Grey), green tea (like jasmine green tea or matcha powder) or oolong tea
  • Vanilla Sugar Syrup – this can be substituted with any sweetener, like honey, maple syrup, agave, or even granulated sugar. Sugar syrup is just sugar melted in water and flavored with Vanilla extract
  • Vanilla Extract – this is for additional flavoring, but if you do not have it, you can skip it.
  • Tapioca Pearl – You can use any size and any color, you can even omit it if you do not have it. Make it a plain milk tea, instead of Boba Milk Tea
  • 1 cup Water – to cook tapioca
  • Honey – this is the sweetener for the tapioca pearls. You can substitute it with Maple Syrup or Vanilla Sugar Syrup, make extra so that you can use it to sweeten the tapioca

How to Make Earl Grey Boba Milk Tea

Making Milk Tea at home is super easy and budget friendly. The simplest way is just plain milk tea, no tapioca pearls. This just involve simmering the milk and sweetener and then steeping the tea. Let it cool down, then pour in a glass with plenty of ice. That’s it, you have a homemade milk tea.

Now if you want to make it a bit upgraded, add some tapioca pearls. Tapioca pearls takes time to cook, so I suggest if you do not want to wait long, make this ahead of time. A big batch is a good option, store it in the refrigerator. The process is the same as the simple milk tea, but this one you have to add tapioca pearls. Simmer the milk and sweetener, steep the tea and let cool down. Cook the tapioca pearls. Pour the cooled down milk tea in a glass, add tapioca pearls, and few tablespoon of milk. The additional mil is optional, but I really like serving it that way, so delicious!

Early Grey Milk Tea

How to Make Vanilla Sugar Syrup

Vanilla Sugar Syrup is just a combination of water, granulated sugar and vanilla extract. You can use granulated white sugar, light or dark brown sugar. Bring these ingredients to simmer in low heat or until the sugar is fully dissolved. The consistency will be runny but it will thicken as it cools down. You can use it as is, just make sure to completely cool before using. That’s it! If you are feeling lazy doing this extra step, you can also use honey or maple syrup, or granulated sugar. Please note that the amount of sweetener vary depending on the sweetener that you are using, so adjust as needed. It is best to add the sweetener gradually so you can easily adjust it to your preference.

Vanilla Sugar Syrup


  • 2 1/4 cups Milk – I used full fat milk
  • 2 Earl Grey Tea Bags
  • 4 tablespoon Sugar Syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup  cooked Tapioca Pearl
  • 1 cup Water – to cook tapioca
  • 1-2 tablespoon Honey

Vanilla Sugar Syrup

  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tablespoon Water 


  • Full Fat Milk – can be substituted with low fat milk or non-dairy milk
  • Sugar Syrup – Can be substituted with other sweetener, like honey, maple syrup, agave or granulated sugar. Measurement will vary depending on the sweetener you are using
  • Tea Bags – can be substituted with loose tea, about 2 tablespoon. Make sure to strain the tea after soaking to remove the tea leaves.


  1. Make the Vanilla Sugar Syrup: In a pan, pour water. Add vanilla extract and granulated sugar. Simmer in medium low heat for about 8-10 minutes or until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Make the Milk Tea: Pour 2 cups of milk, sweetener and vanilla extract in a pan. Simmer until you can see bubbles forming on the side of the pan and you can feel the heat when you place your hands on top of the pan. Add 2 early grey tea bags. You can use 3 if you want a stronger flavor. Cover and Let soak for 5 minutes while the heat is still on. Turn off the heat, transfer in a pot and leave the teabags to steep for another 25 minutes. The longer it soak, the stronger the flavor will be. You can also leave the tea bags soaking until ready to serve. This maximizes the flavor of tea. Let the tea cool completely before serving, otherwise the hot tea will melt the ice cubes easily.
  3. Cook the Tapioca Pearls – Pour water in a pan and bring to a boil. The tapioca will float on the top. Add the tapioca pearls. Bring to a boil until pearls are re-hydrated and the size it almost double and the pearls are transparent. Keep stirring every 5 minutes to avoid sticking. Cooking time will depend on the brand you are using. The fast cooking tapioca cooks in 15 minutes or so. Cover the pot and leave for 15 minutes. Strain the water and transfer in a bowl. Add honey or sugar syrup and vanilla extract then stir. Tapioca Pearls can be made ahead of time, transfer in a container with lid and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Serve: Divide the tapioca pearls between 2 glasses. Add cube ice, 2 tablespoon of milk in each glass, then pour the cooled milk tea. 

Serves 2

Milk Tea

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Information was calculated using Veryfitwell Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator. For details about Nutritional Information in this website, please read the Disclaimer page.

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