Cheaper alternatives for store-bought boba

Boba is a sugary tea-based drink filled with chewable tapioca balls, but the one down side is its price, reaching up to $6 a drink. Homemade boba is an easy alternative to make at only a fraction of the cost.

I conducted a taste test comparing homemade and store-bought boba to see which one people preferred more. I used only mango flavored drinks for the taste test: mango store-bought boba, homemade mango tapioca boba, and homemade mango jelly boba (the recipes for all the homemade drinks are listed at the end.)

Seven people tried all of the drinks and the general consensus was that most liked the jelly boba, and the fruit flavor in the homemade tea was more apparent. Considering that the homemade drink (including the boba) only cost $1.40, about 1/4 of the cost of the store-bought boba, homemade boba is a great alternative.

Jelly boba is another option for tapioca pearls that’s easy to make and uses common ingredients. Jelly boba is easily customizable with extracts and other liquids.


For the jelly boba (3 servings):

Steps: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of gelatin into ¼ cup of cold water in a bowl and allow to soften for a minute. Stir in ⅔ cup of any kind of tea and 2 tablespoons of honey until everything is mixed and dissolved. Put into a rectangular container and refrigerate until cold (around an hour). After the mixture has solidified, cut into whatever size and shape you want.

Standard boba (tapioca pearls) are found in any Asian supermarket and they’re easy to make as well.

For tapioca pearls (2-3 servings):

Tapioca pearls (before):

Steps: Boil 10 cups of water for every 1 cup of tapioca. Put the tapioca into the water until they rise to the top. Boil on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce to low heat for 2-3 minutes again (or until desired consistency). Cool the boba in cold water for 30 seconds. Make a syrup by mixing ½ teaspoon of honey, ½ teaspoon of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Put the boba in the syrup. The boba can be stored in the fridge for a few hours before it become too chewy.          


End result of tapioca pearls:

Milk tea

This milk tea recipe only uses 4 ingredients and can be customized by substituting the mango juice for any other fruit juice or liquid.

Mango Milk tea recipe (2-3 servings):

Steps: Mix the 2 ½ cups of chilled tea and ⅓ cups of milk first, then add 1 ½ cups of mango juice and ¾ tablespoons of sugar. Stir well.