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Brown Sugar Milk Tea With Homemade Boba Pearls

Popular blogger and TikTok phenom Tiffy Chen’s debut book Tiffy Cooks: 88 Easy Asian Recipes from My Family to Yours (available February 27) features her favorite recipes inspired by her childhood in Taiwan and her travels across Southeast Asia. Naturally, she included the most famous Taiwanese drink, the milk tea with boba pearls. “If you’re obsessed with bubble tea like I am, you know that it can get pricey. Save your money and make it at home!” she writes. With her recipe, you can make the gluten-free boba pearls in bulk, and have boba tea whenever the craving strikes.


  • Milk Tea
  • 2 cups 1% or 2% milk
  • 4 Taiwanese red tea bags
  • ice cubes, for serving
  • ___________________________
  • Boba Pearls
  • 1 1/4 cups / 150g tapioca starch, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/3 cup / 80g water
  • 1/4 cup / 50g loosely packed brown sugar
  • ___________________________
  • Brown Sugar Glaze
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • Glass:large


Milk TeaHeat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the milk starts to simmer, add the tea bags and gently stir for 2 to 3 minutes, depending how strong you like your milk tea. Remove from the heat. Discard the tea bags and let the milk cool for 10 minutes.

Boba Pearls1. Place the 1 1/4 cups tapioca starch in a large heatproof bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the water and brown sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the tapioca starch and stir quickly with a pair of chopsticks. The dough will be very sticky. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
3. Knead the dough in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball. Cover
with a damp kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Cut into four equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. You can adjust the size depending on how big you prefer your pearls to be. The pearls will expand when cooked.
5. Put about 1/2 cup of tapioca starch in a medium bowl. Using your hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and place in the starch. Coat the balls with the tapioca starch to prevent them from sticking to each other. At this stage you can freeze the balls in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer over medium heat. Add the tapioca balls and cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom or sides of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for 30 minutes. (If you prefer softer pearls, cook for 45 minutes and let rest for 35 minutes.)
7. Drain the pearls. Transfer to a medium bowl of cold water and let sit until you are ready to serve, up to 2 hours.

Brown Sugar GlazeDrain the tapioca pearls. Sprinkle 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar into a large pot. Stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sugar starts to dissolve, making sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Add the boba pearls and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the glaze is thick and every pearl is completely coated. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the Boba Milk TeaSpoon about 1/4 cup of boba pearls into each of two large glasses. Fill with ice cubes, then add the milk tea. Serve with a wide straw.

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