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Caramel Boba Milk Tea is so refreshing, delicious, and easy-to-make at home! You don’t have to run to the bubble tea shop when the craving for one of these gorgeous beverages hits!
Let’s be honest, boba tea is so fun to drink, but the fancy tea shops are expensive and it’s not exactly economical to go out every time you want one. They’re easy to make at home, customize to your liking, and they don’t take long to put together at all.
You just need a few ingredients that you probably have on hand (minus the boba, we will talk about that below), and you’ll be drinking a fancy boba in no time at all!
- Boba - starchy tapioca balls that are basically the star of this drink!
- Caramel syrup - you can buy caramel syrup here or you can make your own salted caramel syrup (leave out the salt if you want “regular” caramel syrup.
- Black tea - any brand will work, I like to use PG tips, or any robust English Breakfast Tea.
- Milk - I used whole milk but you can use any milk you like: oat, almond, 2%, or skim.
Cook your boba according to package directions and then soak them in caramel syrup while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Brew your tea, etc.
When all of your ingredients are measured and prepped, add your boba to a glass.
Add the milk.
Top with brewed tea and ice (discard the tea bag).
Finish it off by topping with whipped cream.
Then drizzle with some caramel sauce!
Substitutions + variations
Boba - If you're looking for a substitute for boba pearls in bubble tea or other beverages, there are a few options for you to consider:
- Sago pearls: Sago pearls are similar to tapioca pearls except they’re made from palm starch. They’re much smaller, but they’ll give off a similar effect.
- Fruit jelly or popping boba: try fruit-flavored jelly cubes or popping boba instead of boba pearls! Popping boba are small, juice-filled (or yogurt filled) balls that burst with flavor when bitten into, and they’re kind of fun. I will say, they taste better with fruit-flavored boba, but they will definitely work here.
- Chia seeds: While chia seeds won't have the same chewy texture as boba pearls, they can add a similar visual element and some texture to your drink. Chia seeds also have the benefit of being high in fiber and nutrients (they’re definitely healthier).
Caramel syrup - you can use homemade or store bought caramel syrup. I like to use homemade salted caramel syrup in this recipe because it’s delicious, but regular caramel or even a brown sugar syrup will work here.
Black tea - or Earl Grey would be delicious as well. You can also swap this with green tea or matcha and it’ll taste great.
Milk - I used whole milk but you can use any milk you like: oat, almond, 2%, or skim.
Caramel sauce and whipped cream - this drink is sweet enough without it, but if you’d like, top your drink with whipped cream and drizzle some caramel sauce on top!
Where to get boba?
You can get them at any Asian grocery store, or you can just order them online.
A note about drinking boba
Boba area meant to be sipped through a thick straw, so definitely pick up a pack of those as well. I like these straws because they’re reusable.
Considerations about this recipe
Bubble tea, while fun and versatile, isn’t a drink for children. The bubbles/boba can be a choking hazard for young children, additionally this drink does contain caffeine. I don’t think it’s worth it to even attempt giving it to them. But of course, this is at your discretion as a parent to decide if it’s right for your child (as long as they’re older than 5).
*Also, this recipe (as written) makes one drink. If you’re making this drink for two, or more, please adjust the measurements in the recipe card.
Boba (also known as tapioca) pearls, or simply “boba”, are small, chewy balls made from tapioca starch. They’re mainly used in bubble teas, mostly notably created in Taiwan and since then they’ve become famous worldwide.
Boba tea, also known as bubble tea, originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. The drink was created by mixing sweetened milk tea with small, chewy tapioca pearls, resembling bubbles, and shaking them together to form the characteristic froth. The concept quickly gained popularity and spread internationally, evolving into the diverse range of flavors and variations because boba baristas are super creative!
While boba tea is a tasty drink - be aware that it’s not exactly healthy, and the benefits are limited. It is a good source of hydration and antioxidants (from the tea).
This recipe does, however you can make boba tea without tea - just leave it out and replace it with extra milk for a caffeine-free tea. OR use caffeine free tea.
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Caramel Boba Milk Tea
- ¼ cup boba cooked according to package directions
- 2 tbsp caramel syrup homemade or store bought, see recipe notes*
- ¼ cup brewed black tea
- ½ cup milk
- whipped cream and caramel sauce optional for topping
- Cook your boba according to the package directions, then drain and rinse under cold water.
- Toss your boba pearls with the caramel syrup and set them aside to soak up some of the flavor.
- While your boba is soaking in the caramel sauce, brew your black tea and let it cool off a little bit (it shouldn’t be so hot it’s going to break your glass when you pour it in).
- Add the boba pearls and caramel syrup to a glass.
- Fill the glass with ice.
- Add your brewed black tea (discard the tea bag), then top with milk.
- Top with whipped cream and caramel sauce, if desired.