Easy Vegan Bubble Tea

BY : PUBLISHED : September 12th, 2022 UPDATED: September 29th, 2022

This 4-Ingredient vegan bubble tea is creamy, sweet, and full of satisfying chewy boba! It’s also cheaper and healthier than commercial versions, and flexible, too!

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process shot of pouring creamer into glass against a light background

What is Boba Tea (Bubble Tea)?

It’s no surprise to see the ever-increasing popularity of this Taiwanese beverage, but what exactly is bubble tea (also called tapioca milk tea, boba tea, pearl milk tea)?

The drink traditionally combines warm or chilled milk tea (usually black tea, though green tea is growing in popularity) with chewy tapioca balls — aka boba or bubbles - for a drink combining satisfying texture and beautiful aesthetics. It's sweet, creamy, has a robust tea flavor, and delightfully chewy yet jello-like boba to suck up through a large straw.

There are now actually many versions available, including some without tea, using fruit, swapping out the tapioca balls for other jellies, red beans, popping boba, and more. However, for this post, we’re focusing on making a simple and traditional bubble tea recipe, but 100% vegan!

Why Make Boba Milk Tea At Home?

As the popularity of this boba drink increases, more bubble tea shops are popping up all over the place. However, the vegan options can still be pretty limited depending on where you’re based. More so, many store-bought options contain incredibly high levels of fat, sugar, and often artificial ingredients and colors, and all for a pretty heavy premium (not great for those on a budget)!

In comparison, preparing this vegan boba milk tea recipe at home allows you to:

  • Ditch artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
  • Be in 100% control of the ingredients used. That includes the ratios of ingredients (i.e., no refined sugars, less plant-based creamer, more boba, etc.).
  • Save money! Especially if you buy boba in bulk.

Homemade vegan bubble tea is light, creamy, delicious, satisfying, and enjoyable all year long, warm or chilled. Plus, all you need are four ingredients (plus water)!

The Ingredients

ingredients for Easy Vegan Bubble Tea measured out against a white surface
  • Black tea: The traditional choice is to use Chinese black tea, but any robustly flavored tea, like English breakfast tea or Early grey, will work.

Can I use other tea for vegan boba tea?

Absolutely. Why not try this recipe with green tea, jasmine tea, or even oolong tea? Adjust the amount of creamer and sweetener accordingly.

  • Water: To make the black tea base.
  • Tapioca pearls: Choose from regular or quick-cooking tapioca balls (which take just a few minutes). They come in brown, white, or colored varieties—just double-check they’re vegan (i.e., some brown tapioca balls may contain caramel, etc.). You could also use crystal boba, made from agar, which is softer and more jelly-like than tapioca.

Feel free to adjust the amount of boba added between ½-1 cup for the recipe, based on your desired ratio of boba to tea.

  • Plant-based creamer: Use the vegan creamer of your choice. Alternatively, for a lighter choice, use any dairy-free milk instead.
  • Sweetener: We use agave, but any liquid sweetener (including sugar-free syrups) will work. If you want to use granulated sugar/sweetener, add it to the warm tea, so it dissolves.

The Recipe Variations

Here are just a few ways to adapt or add to the vegan boba tea.

  • Ice cubes: Black tea ice cubes will mean avoiding a watered-down drink.
  • Whipped coconut cream: To garnish the vegan boba tea when serving.
  • Flavored syrups: The easiest way to add more flavor to the plant-based milk tea is with flavored syrups (regular or sugar-free).
  • Jelly: You can find or make several types of chopped jellies to add to the boba tea, including coffee jelly, coconut jelly, etc.

How to Make Boba Tea?

Follow three steps to prepare this delicious vegan bubble tea recipe at home!

  • 1) Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, remove it from the heat, and add three tea bags. Allow them to steep, untouched, until the water has cooled (or for 8 minutes if enjoying warm).

Some tea may become bitter (due to tannins that release in the water) when over-steeped. To avoid bitter tea, leave the tea bags for just 6-8 minutes OR use a cold-brew method by leaving them in cold water in the fridge for 10-12 hours (overnight works amazingly).

  • 2) Meanwhile, cook the tapioca pearls according to their package instructions. Mine were to use 1 cup pearls to 6 cups water and cook over medium for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Then, remove from the heat, cover, and leave them to sit for 25 minutes.

Don’t drain the tapioca balls too early, as they can stick together and dry out.

  • 3) To assemble the vegan bubble tea, scoop the cooked tapioca pearls into the two glasses, fill them ¾ way with the black tea, and top it off with your choice of plant-based creamer. Finally, give it a taste and add some sweetener if desired.

Serve the vegan boba tea with a long spoon or a wide bubble tea straw, and enjoy!

FAQs

Can I drink vegan milk tea warm?

Absolutely. You can enjoy this as a regular vegan milk tea or chilled vegan milk tea.

Does bubble tea have caffeine?

Black tea contains caffeine. If you’d prefer it not to, select a decaf black tea.

Is bubble tea healthy?

Store-bought bubble tea can contain high levels of heavy dairy and refined sugars. In comparison, homemade versions can be tweaked and adjusted to your liking. I.e., lighter plant-based creamer/milk, sugar-free, etc. Generally, we consider this vegan bubble tea an occasional treat rather than a replacement for our daily tea/coffee.

Is bubble tea vegan?

While there are some versions you can get that are vegan, many commercial options can contain high levels of dairy. It’s also worth checking the ingredients on the tapioca pearls, though most are vegan.

What does boba tea taste like?

Regular tapioca pearls don’t actually have much of a flavor. Instead, they’re added to the drink for their tender, chewy texture that is very satisfying within a drink. That means boba tea just tastes like the vegan milk tea.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Tweak the ratio of ingredients: You can increase, reduce, or even eliminate sugar entirely and adjust the ratios of boba, tea, and vegan creamer to your liking.
  • Ditch the plant-based creamer: If you aren’t a fan of overly creamy drinks, omit the plant-based creamer for more tea.
  • Don’t make the boba in advance: 3-4 hours is their window of freshness before they become tough and chewy.
  • For slightly sweeter boba: After cooking them, drain them and return to the pan with a small amount of your desired sweetener/syrup to cook for a further minute. Then serve immediately.
  • To chill the tea quickly: Shake it in a cocktail shaker with ice (bonus if it’s tea ice to avoid watering down the drink).
  • Invest in a straw: If you plan to make this vegan bubble tea recipe often, we highly recommend purchasing a reusable bubble tea straw.
completed Easy Vegan Bubble Tea in a glass against a white background with ingredients

How to Make Ahead and Store?

You can prepare the tea (alone or mixed with the vegan creamer to make vegan milk tea) 2-3 days in advance and store it covered in the fridge. However, the tapioca pearls should be prepared fresh so they don’t dry out and become tough.

Once fully combined, it’s best to consume the plant-based milk tea with boba within 3-4 hours. However, the leftover plant-based milk tea will last 2-3 days in the fridge.

More Fun Vegan Drinks

You may also enjoy browsing our entire collection of budget-friendly vegan drink recipes!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

process shot of pouring boba tea into a glass with ingredients in the background

Easy Vegan Bubble Tea

Toni Okamoto
This 4-Ingredient vegan bubble tea is creamy, sweet, and full of satisfying chewy boba! It’s also cheaper and healthier than commercial versions, and flexible, too!
5 from 32 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Cooling Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Asian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 258 kcal
METHOD Stovetop
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 black tea bags
  • ½ to 1 cup of uncooked tapioca pearls depending on preference
  • Plant-based creamer
  • Agave nectar to taste (optional)

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat, add the three tea bags and allow them to steep until the water has completely cooled.
  • In a large pot, cook tapioca pearls according to package instructions. My package instructed me to cook tapioca pearls in 6 times the amount of water. I used 1 cup tapioca pearls, 6 cups water, and cooked on medium-heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Then I turned off the heat, covered, and let sit for 25 minutes.
  • When the tea has cooled and the tapioca pearls are cooked, scoop in the tapioca pearls into two large glasses. Then, fill the cups ¾ of the way with black tea, and top off the rest of the way with plant-based creamer.
  • Give it a taste, and if your preference requires more sweetness, optionally add agave nectar.

Notes

  • Tweak the ratio of ingredients: You can increase, reduce, or even eliminate sugar entirely and adjust the ratios of boba, tea, and vegan creamer to your liking.
  • Ditch the plant-based creamer: If you aren’t a fan of overly creamy drinks, omit the plant-based creamer for more tea.
  • Don’t make the boba in advance: 3-4 hours is their window of freshness before they become tough and chewy.

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 1gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.03gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 96mgPotassium: 176mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 14IUCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

About Toni Okamoto

"They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
'Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways...
we got to start taking better care of ourselves " - Dead Prez

View all posts by Toni Okamoto

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Teodora says

    5 stars
    Looks super interesting!

    • Andrea White says

      You'd love it!

  2. Gina H. says

    5 stars
    A fun and fantastically delicious recipe!

    • Andrea White says

      Yesss - such a sweet treat!

  3. Beatriz says

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! So good 🙂

    • Andrea White says

      Agreed! Gotta love boba!

  4. Rachel says

    5 stars
    I had no idea it was so easy to make bubble tea at home! This is a game changer!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! This recipe makes it less intimidating to whip up some tasty boba!

  5. Janaye says

    5 stars
    This recipe is so amazing! Looks great

    • Andrea White says

      Nothing like boba!

  6. Jacqui says

    5 stars
    I love boba but need to save some money, so this recipe keeps me from going out to buy it and instead I make it at home! So goooood!

    • Andrea White says

      It makes enjoying boba that much easier!

  7. nancy says

    5 stars
    boba is my all time fav. glad i can make this at home now with your easy tips

    • Andrea White says

      Yessss! Saves so much money too!

  8. Andrea White says

    5 stars
    Such a fun drink!

  9. Tammy Kainz says

    Where do you get the tapioca pearls?

    • Andrea White says

      You can find them at most international grocery stores and also online 🙂

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