thai milk tea

Boba Tea or Thai Milk Tea: What's with the Hype and How To Make Your Own

Boba tea, also known as Thai milk tea, bubble tea, or Cha Yen, is a drink that originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. It skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. While scrolling through social media platforms nowadays, you'll often see pictures of people sipping on this delicious drink. In fact, the same goes for the streets of Tokyo. Whether it is in the fashion streets of Harajuku or the light district of Akihabara, you'll find people who are very interested in bubble teas.

What Is Thai Tea Boba?

Thai milk tea has two key ingredients: tea and tapioca pearls/boba (edible translucent spheres made from cassava root starch or tapioca). But it is not limited to just these two. Other variations of Thai milk tea have toppings or "sinkers" like aloe vera, grass jelly, popping boba, or red beans. The most popular version of Boba tea in Tokyo adds delicious Japanese sugar syrup into the mix.

Thai Bubble Tea (Thai Iced Tea with Boba) - Popular PanTai Thai Tea Mix

What Are Tapioca Pearls?

Sago, or starch extracted from the spongy core tissue of various tropical palm stems, is popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is commonly shaped into small balls and added to various drinks and dishes. The thing is that sago can be expensive. So, tapioca pearls, which are cheaper, are often chosen as an alternative. The most popular use of these pearls is as sinkers in Thai bubble tea.

Tapioca pearls, also referred to as tapioca balls, are made from tapioca - starch made from cassava root. The starch is molded into spheres, often five to ten millimeters in diameter. Sugar, water, honey, or other sweeteners are added to alter the tapioca pearl's color and texture. In drinks like Thai tea, tapioca is added not for flavor but for the added texture. The milk and the tea itself provide the flavor.

Drinks Cuisine  | Thai Tea

What Are Popping Boba?

Some use popping boba instead of tapioca pearls in their Thai bubble tea. What's the difference between the two?

Popping boba is not made from the starch of cassava root. Instead, it is typically fruit-based. Juices of fruits like mango, strawberry, pomegranate, blueberry, and kiwi are fashioned into balls using the spherification process. This process relies on the reaction of sodium alginate and either calcium chloride or calcium lactate. Besides the flavor sources and the ingredients required for the reaction, popping boba consists of water and sugar.

The result is an edible sphere with thin, gel-like skin. Inside it is the juice, which bursts when you squeeze or bite the popping boba, thus the name. 

Popping Boba Recipe: Fun DIY with or Without Sodium Alginate!

Types of Thai Bubble Tea

There are many variations of Thai milk tea. Learn more about them below.

With or Without Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Some bubble tea has milk. It could be powdered milk, fresh milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Meanwhile, other bubble teas don't have any milk. There is no "incorrect" variant; both can be classified as bubble tea as long as the drink is black tea, green tea, or Oolong tea-based. Though uncommon, white tea can also be used to make bubble tea.

Hot Thai Tea or Thai Iced Tea?

The most common type of cha yen is served cold, using traditional Thai iced tea. But you can also use hot tea. In fact, the first known Thai bubble tea was made with traditional, hot Thai black tea, condensed milk, and syrup or honey.

Toppings or Sinkers

Bubble tea typically has tapioca pearls. But, as said above, it is not restricted to that. You can add other things. Don't be afraid to experiment and personalize your drink.

Coconut jelly, grass jelly, konjac, lychee, mango, coffee, or even green tea-flavored jelly are a popular addition to bubble tea. Some people also mix in Azuki bean, mung bean paste, aloe, custard, popping boba, and sago to their Thai milk tea.

If you want to fancy, you can add milk or cheese foam on top of the drink. Doing so results in a saltier flavor profile and a consistency close to that of whipped cream.

What do Thai Teas taste like?

Thai flavored tea has more sugar than normal tea due to the condensed milk used. Its milk also makes this creamier or denser. It also tastes warm and refreshing, while spice makes it warm. The main taste is from the black tea variety used in its production. Nevertheless, there are many more flavors available in the package. It's good for teas, boba milk tea, and milkshakes in general. Because most serve the beverage on ice, it can be a perfect drink during summertime.

Thai Iced Tea Recipe

Why Is It Orange?

Thai teas are easily identified through orange hues. It helps you easily differentiate Thai tea from other types of tea. This is also related to the city's historical background. Traditionally, the palace cooks brew tea leaves on behalf of the King. Afterward, they used them again to provide domestic staff with a job. Because reused leaves have little taste, they add spices. Among the other plants are turmeric and tamarind. This spice naturally turns beverages orange.

Now, when not adding these ingredients to teas, people make Thai tea mixes orange. This is done by using food coloring.

Thai Iced Tea | Popular Thai Tea Mix

Ingredients for Making a Boba Tea

There is no problem with buying boba tea from the many Thai restaurants or cafes. But don't you want to make your own delicious bubble tea? By doing so, you can align your refreshing drink with your personal taste. Furthermore, it may even help you save money.

Of course, to make your own, you first need to know what are the key ingredients.

  • Tea - black tea, green tea, Oolong tea, or even white tea will do.

  • Sweetener - caramel, brown sugar, honey, or store-bought milk tea sweeteners. Japanese sugar syrup is the best for making Tokyo boba tea.

  • Milk - condensed milk or a combination of condensed and evaporated milk are the most common. Non-dairy milk like oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and other types of milk can be used as an alternative.

  • Toppings - tapioca pearls or the alternatives mentioned above.

Japanese Thai Iced Tea Recipe

Try this boba Thai tea recipe with a Japanese twist:

  1. Prepare the tea. Steep the tea bags or tea leaves with freshly boiled water. Let it sit until it has cooled down completely.

  2. Cook the tapioca pearls. Boil some water, then switch to below medium-high heat. Add the tapioca pearls. Stir it regularly to prevent the tapioca pearls from sticking. Wait for the pearls to float to the top. After it happens, cook them for 5 more minutes.

  3. Taste the tapioca pearls to check if they have reached your desired level of softness.

  4. Remove the tapioca pearls from the hot water using a slotted spoon. Rinse them with water and transfer them into a bowl.

  5. Mix the tapioca pearls with a few tablespoons of Japanese sugar syrup. Adjust the sweetness according to what your taste buds prefer.

  6. Assemble the tea mix. Start by straining the tea into a pitcher. Put some tapioca pearls in your tumbler. Add a few ice cubes, then pour the tea into it.

  7. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of condensed milk/ milk mixture of condensed milk and evaporated milk/ whole milk/ your milk of choice.

  8. Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of Japanese sugar syrup into the mixture.

  9. Taste the drink and add condensed milk/our preferred milk and Japanese sugar syrup to adjust the flavor.

  10. Add orange food colouring to achieve Thai tea's signature bright orange look.

  11. Serve.

Note: you can add cardamom seeds or star anise to this authentic recipe to highlight Thai flavors more.

Thai Bubble Tea | How to Make Homemade Bubble Tea : Thai Tea

Food That Goes Well with Japanese Bubble Tea

To have a very Thai experience, you can eat Thai food while drinking your tea at home. You can buy from the nearest Thai restaurant or cook your own. Fried dishes like Thai spring rolls make a good substitute for the usual french fries. You can search online for other delicious recipes originating from Thailand.

Spicy Thai food also make Thai iced tea shine since it is a sweet drink. The milk and the sweet tea flavor would balance things out, making it easier for you to eat spicy food. You can always find these dishes in most Thai restaurants. Sandwiches are also great partners to iced tea. And so are desserts like crepes.

Thai Tea Leaves Snacks : Recipe Vegan

Why is Thai tea so good?

Thai milk tea is a popular beverage in Thailand and other parts of the world, known for its unique flavor and creamy texture. There are several reasons why people find Thai milk tea so enjoyable:

  1. Unique Flavor: Thai milk tea has a unique combination of flavors that sets it apart from other teas. It is typically made with black tea, which has a bold and slightly bitter taste, and sweetened with condensed milk or sugar. Additional ingredients like spices such as cardamom and star anise, as well as vanilla and other flavorings, may be added to give it a distinct taste.

  2. Creamy Texture: The addition of condensed milk to Thai milk tea gives it a creamy and smooth texture that many people find appealing. The creamy sweetness of the milk blends well with the bold flavors of the tea, creating a delicious balance.

  3. Refreshing: Thai milk tea is often served over ice, which makes it a refreshing and cooling beverage. This is particularly appealing in hot and humid climates, where a cool and flavorful drink can be very satisfying.

  4. Cultural Significance: Thai milk tea is a beloved part of Thai culture and has become popular in other countries as well. The cultural significance of the drink can make it more appealing to some people, as they may enjoy experiencing a taste of another culture.

Overall, Thai milk tea's unique flavor, creamy texture, refreshing qualities, and cultural significance are all factors that contribute to its popularity and why many people find it so enjoyable.



What flavor is thai milk tea?

The quality of the tea, the quantity of milk, and the spices used all affect how Thai bubble tea tastes. The strong, earthy flavor of the black tea complements the cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise flavors of this beverage. Combining milk, sugar, and boba creates a chewy, creamy deliciousness. After that, the coffee is topped with ice, sweetened with sugar, and condensed milk.

Is thai milk tea very sweet?

A sweet, caffeinated Thai beverage is Thai Milk Tea. With Thai restaurants serving it everywhere, it has also gained popularity in other countries. Thai tea has more sugar and condensed milk added than standard tea. Moreover, the milk adds thickness and creaminess. As a result, although the spices truly warm it up, the texture is calm and pleasant. The processing of black tea imparts the primary flavor. With a Thai Tea foundation as the basis, brown sugar, condensed milk, and evaporated milk are added as the toppings for Thai bubble tea.

What to serve with?

  • waffles

  • fries

  • pancakes

  • nachos

  • takoyaki

  • pastries

  • dimsum

  • noodles

  • chicken

Experiences by Japan Crate : Boba Tea Experience Set

Thai Milk Iced Teas is a light, sweet beverage made with condensed milk and brown sugar. In reality, it is thought that China brought tea to Thailand sometime in the 1980s. The conventional versions invented around 30 years ago used black tea, condensed milk, and ice as the key ingredients. Make your boba tea at home now. If you're a boba tea lover, this Boba Tea Experience Set is perfect. The set includes tapioca pearls, condensed milk, reusable straw, a tumbler, tea bags, and Japanese sugar syrup.

Experiences by Japan Crate : Boba Tea Experience Set : loose tea


Generally available in Thai eateries and is common throughout Southeast Asia both a milk tea or boba tea. Thai tea mix (or black tea), milk, and sugar are used to make the sweet, creamy beverage known as Thai iced tea. Thai tea, a milky, sweet tea beverage, has recently grown in popularity, especially in bubble tea establishments. You've come to the right site if you've ever wanted to learn how to prepare this deliciously addictive black tea beverage.

Japan Crate offers different sets that will let you experience Japanese culture wherever you are. To know more about us, visit our website now!



Boba Tea

Boba Tea