It only requires five ingredients!
3 large cups
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When the new circuit breaker measures were announced, bubble tea shops were removed from the list of “essential services”, prompting a buying frenzy all across the island. But there’s no need to panic, folks – here’s a recipe to recreate your favourite brown sugar milk tea at home, including how to make the tapioca pearls. What’s even better is that you can control exactly how much sugar goes into your drink, without worrying about additives either.

This recipe is kindly shared by Jude from Asiaone. Having spent two years in the US, she could not find a place that sold a good cup of bubble tea. She was also put off by raw ‘bubble tea pearls’ sold in supermarkets which contained many ingredients she didn’t recognise. So, she decided to make it herself.

Photo: Asiaone

Jude estimates that after totalling the cost of ingredients which could make about 30 cups of bubble tea, and depending on the quality of tea you use, each cup could cost less than 30 cents!

You can even rope in the whole family to make light work of rolling out the tapioca pearls and treat it as a wholesome bonding session. Keep reading for the recipe!


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup tea leaves
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 500 ml water, to make brown sugar syrup
  • 900 ml water, to make tea

Prepare two pots of water, one with 900 ml to boil the tea leaves and another with 500 ml to make the brown sugar syrup. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, mix three tablespoons of brown sugar into one cup of tapioca starch and mix evenly.


Add boiling water into the mixture bit by bit while kneading it until it reaches a doughy consistency.


Add the remaining brown sugar into the boiling water to make the brown sugar syrup.

Word of caution: Be careful about adding too much water as a wetter dough will not be able to retain its round shape. To rectify it, simply add more tapioca starch.


Shape the dough into small spheres to make the tapioca pearls and line them up on a tray.


Cook the tapioca pearls in the brown sugar syrup for 20 mins until it is cooked through and chewy. At the same time, strain the tea leaves and set the tea aside to cool down. Once the pearls are cooked, remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down for another 20 mins.


Scoop the pearls into a cup with brown sugar syrup. You can customise the sugar level by adding or reducing the amount of brown sugar syrup. Then, fill the cup with tea and add the desired amount of evaporated milk.

Additional tips:

  • Make your bubble tea cold without adding ice cubes by refrigerating the evaporated milk.
  • If you want sweeter pearls, soak them in the brown sugar syrup overnight in the fridge, and microwave them for 10 secs before serving.

You can also watch this Youtube video by TaiwanCooking on how to make tapioca pearls:

Text: Melissa Goh, Additional reporting: Elizabeth Liew

A version of this post first appeared on Asiaone

Download or print the recipe