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This 5-ingredient plant-based strawberry milk tea with boba (aka strawberry bubble tea) uses fresh strawberries & is sweet, fruity, refreshing, & cheaper, healthier, + more delicious than store-bought. Dairy-free + a low-sugar option included!

completed Strawberry Boba Tea in a glass cup with ingredients in the background
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Non-Dairy Strawberry Milk Bubble Tea with Real Strawberries

If you’re vegan or dairy-free, finding a local bubble tea place that offers plenty of non-dairy options (if any) can be tricky. Even if you do, store-bought boba is often packed with sugar and ‘heavy’ dairy — not to mention pricey. Which is why you should start making your own at home, starting with this summery strawberry plant-based milk tea (aka strawberry bubble tea).

This strawberry bubble tea is like Taiwanese black bubble milk tea and Korean strawberry milk combined and had a baby. It combines a black dairy-free milk tea base with a quick and simple homemade strawberry compote using fresh strawberries, finished with a generous scoop of tapioca pearls.

The resulting strawberry boba tea is refreshing, sweet, fruity, pretty (it’s light pink!), and perfect for all boba fans this summer. I’ve already shared a strawberry sorbet with mint recipe and strawberry overnight oats, but this is perfect for when you want something in the middle —light and creamy, and delicious. Plus, thanks to frozen berries, you can enjoy this dairy-free strawberry fruit tea boba year-round.

What Is Bubble Tea (Boba Tea)?

Bubble tea (also called boba tea, bubble milk tea, pearl milk tea, etc.) is a popular drink from Taiwan that combines warm or chilled milk tea (usually black tea combined with creamer or milk) with chewy tapioca balls.

While the most popular varieties of milk tea are black pearl milk tea and green pearl milk tea (pearls refer to the brown boba), as the popularity of this drink has grown worldwide, so have the flavor options. Now, bubble tea recipes include options with a tea-less milk or juice base, popping boba (filled with syrup), and various flavored jellies, aloe vera, red beans, etc.

The benefits of learning how to make bubble tea at home are threefold.

  • First, you get to avoid the artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives found in commercial strawberry-flavored powders for boba tea.
  • You get to save money.
  • And, best of all, you can adapt the recipe to your flavor and dietary requirements. I.e., use unrefined sugar or go sugar-free, choose the dairy-free milk of your choice, adjust the ingredient ratios, etc.

It’s all up to you—either way, you’ll love this dairy-free strawberry milk tea boba!

The Ingredients

This strawberry bubble tea recipe comprises three elements: the strawberry compote, vegan milk tea, and tapioca balls (boba balls).

ingredients for Strawberry Boba Tea on a white surface

The Strawberry Compote

  • Strawberries: I recommend using the freshest, juiciest berries you can, though you can also use frozen strawberries out of season.
  • Sugar: I used regular granulated sugar, but feel free to use raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup (unrefined sugars) instead. You can also make a vegan low-sugar strawberry boba tea by using a sugar alternative like erythritol.
  • Vanilla extract: Use natural vanilla extract to avoid an artificial aftertaste in the dairy-free strawberry boba tea.

Vegan Black Milk Tea

  • Tea: I made strawberry black tea boba using black tea bags. However, you could use Oolong tea, jasmine tea, or make strawberry green tea boba instead.

It’s best to use teas with a robust flavor, like English or Chinese breakfast tea or Earl Grey. Weaker teas will become overpowered in this non-dairy strawberry milk tea recipe. For double fruity power, use a fruity strawberry tea. If using loose tea, use 1 tsp loose leaves per tea bag called for.

  • Plant-based milk: Any non dairy milk will work – almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc. Choose your preference based on flavor and creaminess level.
  • Sweetener: (optional) I use agave nectar, but maple would also work or a sugar alternative to sweeten the vegan strawberry boba tea recipe.
  • Water: To make up the tea.

Tapioca balls

  • Boba pearls: There are several types of tapioca pearls that you can purchase (from any International supermarket or online).

I used regular brown sugar boba balls this time, but quick-cooking tapioca (brown, white, or colored) will help reduce the time to prepare this vegan strawberry milk tea recipe (10 mins).

What Else Can I Add?

  • Rose water: Just a small amount adds a delicate but delicious floral flavor to the strawberry fruit tea.
  • Dairy-free cream: For a more decadent treat, use a vegan cream/creamer instead of some or all of the plant-based milk.
  • Ice cubes: When serving on warm days, ice is a treat. To avoid watering down the vegan strawberry bubble tea, use tea ice cubes.
  • Vegan whipped cream: I like whipped coconut cream.

How To Make:

This non-dairy strawberry bubble tea recipe requires just a handful of simple steps, including preparing the strawberry compote, the plant-based milk, tea, the vegan boba, and then combining them all.

Step 1: Prepare the strawberry compote

  • 1) First, wash, de-stem, and chop the strawberries in half or quarters.
process of cutting strawberries on a white surface
  • 2) Then, transfer them to a medium saucepan with the sugar and heat over medium for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • 3) As they soften, use a fork or potato masher to mash them and cook until the liquid thickens into a sauce-like consistency (another 5-10 minutes). Then, add the vanilla and stir, removing the mixture from the heat and setting it aside to cool.
process of spooning strawberry compote in bowl

Some people prefer to strain the mixture to make a simple strawberry syrup and use the leftover strawberry pulp elsewhere (in smoothies, as a snack, with vegan yogurt, spread over toast, etc.)

Step 2: Prepare the tapioca pearls

  • 4) Meanwhile, prepare the tapioca pearls according to their package instructions. For me, that meant combining the boba with 6x the amount of water (i.e., one cup tapioca pearls to 6 cups water) and cooking them over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • 5) Then, turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and allow it to sit for 25 minutes.

Note that the instructions will change based on your boba type. Some require you to run them under cold water immediately after cooking and then place them in a liquid immediately to stop them from sticking together and drying/becoming tough.

Step 3: Make the vegan milk tea

  • 6) Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Then, remove it from the heat, add the tea bags, and allow them to steep until the water has cooled.
process of adding water to tea bags

Some tea can become bitter when over-brewed as the bitten tannins release into the water. To avoid this, brew the tea for just 6-8 minutes, not squeezing/pressing the tea bags too much. Then remove the bags while the tea cools.

Step 4: Assemble the vegan strawberry milk tea

  • 7) Once the tea has cooled, divide the tapioca pearls and strawberry compote between two large glasses. Then pour in the tea, filling the cups to ½-¾ way full. Finally, top it off with the plant-based milk, and stir.
ingredients for Strawberry Boba Tea on a white surface
  • 8) Finally, give the dairy-free strawberry milk tea boba a taste and add more sweetener if preferred, then enjoy!

Use a bubble tea straw if you have one to suck up the tapioca pearls OR serve the vegan strawberry milk tea with long ‘sundae’ style spoons to scoop them out.

FAQs

Do I have to add tea?

To make a traditional ‘milk tea,’ then yes. However, you can make a non0dairy strawberry milk boba drink without the tea, using just plant-based milk and the strawberry compote instead.

How can I reduce the bitterness in the tea?

There are a couple of methods to avoid bitterness. First, be careful not to over-brew the tea. 6-8 minutes should be enough for black tea (the time differs based on the type of tea used).

Alternatively, you could avoid boiling water and use a cold-brew method for making the tea, leaving it to brew in cold water in the fridge for 10-12 hours.

Does bubble tea have caffeine?

Yes, the tea you use in this vegan strawberry milk tea contains caffeine. Use decaf tea if preferred, though.

Is Bubble tea healthy?

When purchasing bubble tea in a shop, it’s usually loaded with heavy dairy and tons of sugar. By making homemade vegan strawberry milk tea, you can make it 100% dairy-free, choose the type of plant-based milk, and adjust the amount of sugar added, making it (potentially) a much healthier treat.

What does non-dairy strawberry milk tea taste like?

The black tea and plant-based milk combine to make a subtle tea flavor with a creamy yet light consistency. Meanwhile, the strawberry compote is sweet yet still has a delicious ‘fresh’ flavor (unlike store-bought powders/syrups).

The tapioca pearls (aka boba/bubbles) have little flavor, adding a satisfying chewy texture to the vegan milk tea.

Top Tips and Notes

  • Adjust the amount of boba: You can use ½-1 cup of tapioca balls for this recipe, depending on how much you’d like.
  • For a smooth plant-based strawberry milk tea: Blend some of the strawberry mixture into the vegan milk tea, then top it off with extra compote.
  • Adjust the sweetness: Depending on how sweet the berries are, use more or less sugar in the compote and may not require any additional sweetener in the vegan milk tea.
  • Experiment with the ratios: Use more or less tea to plant-based milk, strawberry compote, etc.
  • Enjoy black: If you want a stronger tea drink, skip the plant-based milk and double the tea.
  • Make the boba fresh: It’s best to prepare the tapioca pearls just before serving the strawberry boba tea, as they will only stay fresh for 3-4 hours (in liquid) before they become overly chewy and tough.
completed Strawberry Boba Tea in a glass cup with ingredients in the background

Storage Instructions

Make ahead: You can prepare the strawberry compote and dairy-free milk tea and store them separately in airtight containers in the fridge for 2-3 days. Make the boba fresh, though.

Store: Once combined, the vegan strawberry milk tea mixture will last 2-3 days in the fridge. However, the boba only stays fresh for 3-4 hours at most. So, it’s best to make each portion fresh as needed.

More Fruity Vegan Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Strawberry Milk Tea

5 from 64 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 2
This 5-ingredient plant-based strawberry milk tea with boba (aka strawberry bubble tea) uses fresh strawberries & is sweet, fruity, refreshing, & cheaper, healthier, + more delicious than store-bought.

Ingredients 

Strawberry compote:

  • 1 pound of strawberries, destemmed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Tapioca balls:

  • ½ to 1 cup of uncooked tapioca pearls, depending on preference

Strawberry milk tea:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 green or black tea bags
  • 3 cups of plant-based milk
  • Agave nectar, to taste (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries and sugar and heat on medium for 4 to 5, stirring frequently. When they begin to soften, use a fork to mush them. Cook until the liquid thickens and it becomes more of a sauce.
  • 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 turn off the heat, cover it, and let sit for 25 minutes.
  • 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.
  • When the tea has cooled and the tapioca pearls are cooked, scoop the tapioca pearl and strawberry compote into two large glasses. Then, fill the cups ½ to ¾ of the way with tea, and top off the rest of the way with plant-based milk.
  • Give it a taste, and if your preference requires more sweetness, optionally add agave nectar.

Notes

  • Adjust the amount of boba: You can use ½-1 cup of tapioca balls for this recipe, depending on how much you’d like.
  • For a smooth plant-based strawberry milk tea: Blend some of the strawberry mixture into the vegan milk tea, then top it off with extra compote.
  • Make the boba fresh: It’s best to prepare the tapioca pearls just before serving the strawberry boba tea, as they will only stay fresh for 3-4 hours (in liquid) before they become overly chewy and tough.
  • Color: Opt for green tea for a prettier pink color.

Nutrition

Calories: 332kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 508mgPotassium: 352mgFiber: 6gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 27IUVitamin C: 133mgCalcium: 505mgIron: 2mg

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.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
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

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This strawberry milk tea is so refreshing! I’ll definitely be trying it more throughout the summer!

  2. 5 stars
    The strawberry compote in this milk tea is so good! Love how easy it is to make bubble tea at home!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks delicious! Honestly, I’ll probably just buy boba to add, but I want to try the rest. Sounds so refreshing!