The lychee bubble tea is fragrant, sweet, and smooth boba milk tea. Tea flavor gives the depth, lychee gives the sweet fragrant taste, milk imparts smoothness, boba balls give a texture and the bubbles give it a unique mouth feels to this drink.
This lychee bubble tea is my guilty pleasure. Let me start by saying that I love bubble tea, and I love lychees. Today, we combine both these flavors to make a smooth and flavorful drink, called lychee boba or lychee bubble tea.
Bubble tea is a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. These are the sweet milk tea served with chewy tapioca balls or pearls.
Bubble in a bubble tea refers to the froth or bubbles formed on the drink as a result of shaking. It is best served in closed lid jars so that it could be shaken before serving. If you do not have one handy, it is still not an excuse to avoid making this flavor-packed drink.
Trust me, shaken or unshaken, it is such a lovely drink. It is one of my best flavors to order in a boba shop! It can be made easily at home.
Let us dive right in.
In this recipe post, Boba refers to the tapioca pearls. Bubble tea is the sweet milk tea that is shaken to create bubbles or little froth on the surface and is served with cooked and flavored tapioca pearls.
I had to clarify this because there is always a squabble on whether to call it boba or bubble tea.
Why should you be making this lychee bubble tea or lychee boba at home?
Simply because the one that you are making at home has better, cleaner, and safer ingredients than the one you get at the boba centers.
- The bubble tea that you get at the cafes is not made fresh. In most cases, the tea is brewed in bulk, days in advance, and is reheated multiple times. The nutritional value of tea is lost in the process. So, why not make it fresh at home.
- Most of the cafes use non-dairy creamers instead of milk. And trust me these creamers have a high amount of saturated fats and carbs. At home, we can use the fresh milk of our choice. Dairy or plant based, it all up to you.
- The boba tea in big facilities is added with numerous harmful chemicals that help to stabilize the liquids. Businesses need to ensure the long shelf life of pre-made bubble teas and have to keep the cost in control. So, yes a lot of compromises are made.
- Homemade lychee bubble tea is going to be much much better for our health. We should be confident about what we are putting in our stomachs.
- In this homemade lychee bubble tea, we are going to fresh lychee juice contrary to the preserved concentrate used by the commercial boba centers.
We can make the best lychee bubble tea at home, using the superior and fresh ingredients from our pantry.
Lychee bubble tea has 4 key elements; Lychee, bubbles, boba, and milk tea.
Let us first talk about lychee. Lychee is a sub-tropical fruit mainly grown in China and India. It is sweet, juicy, and aromatic. It has white flesh that is filled with juicy goodness.
As a child, I eagerly awaited summer. Summers brings in two of my favorite fruits, mangoes, and litchi( this is how we spell it back home.)
Today we are going to use fresh lychee to make bubble tea.
For making this recipe, I will be using some fresh lychee. I know, fresh litchi is not easy to source, if you are living in the West. In that case, you can use canned lychee.
Another way to make this lychee bubble tea is to use lychee jelly instead of tapioca pearls. But that is not my favorite way to make it, but it is worth a try. ( more on it in the methods section)
Boba/ tapioca pearls
Boba is the chewy tapioca pearls that are flavored with brown sugar or fruit juices. Sometimes, Boba is referred to as the drink itself. In Taiwan and other southeast Asian countries, it is usually called boba and not bubble tea. But for keeping things clear here, I will refer to the chunky pearls at the bottom of a bubble tea as boba.
Tapioca starch is made from the root tubers of cassava. The tapioca starch is then colored and flavored to form pearl-like boba.
Types of Boba
There are 3 types of Boba.
1. Tapioca boba
First are the tapioca boba. The cassava roots are used to create tapioca flour. The tapioca flour is further kneaded in brown sugar syrup, shaped, and boiled. Based on their shape, color. and size, they can be divided further into 4 categories:
- Clear boba: These are translucent tapioca pearls that are almost flavorless. They are used in milk teas and they absorb flavors from the milk and tea.
- Brown boba/ black boba: These kinds of tapioca pearls are more prominent. Brown boba is flavored with brown sugar syrup which gives it the brown color and deep caramel and licoricey flavor.
- Flavored: These kinds of tapioca pearls are flavored with fruit juice and work best in fruit-based boba drinks. They come in all types of tropical flavors.
- Mini boba: They are the same as the clear or brown boba, but just smaller. I found mini boba in my local Asian store and was so excited to use them. In this recipe, I have used mini clear boba. You can lychee flavored boba or brown boba. they all work great in lychee bubble tea.
2. Popping boba
The second is the popping boba. Popping boba is more juicy than chewy. They are fruit-juice-filled bubbles, pop open inside your mouth and release the burst of flavor. In recent years, popping boba is gaining more popularity because of its versatility. They come in various flavors, Lychee flavor is one of them. These juice-filled balls are created with molecular gastronomy and are a total killer.
You can lychee popping boba instead of tapioca pearls if you can source it. They taste so good.
3. Jelly boba
These are made up of konjac or coconut meat. These jelly-like substances are flavored with fruit juices to make popping boba.
The best thing about the jelly boba is that they can be stored for days without getting spoiled. Unlike tapioca boba, they do not need cooking.
Jelly boba vs tapioca boba
*Tapioca boba is a conventional form of boba, whereas the jelly boba is much novel. Though the jelly boba has been used in Asian desserts and pudding for a long time, they have recently found their way into the bubble teacups.
*Jelly boba does not need to be cooked. Whereas tapioca boba needs to cook before use.
*Tapioca pearls need to be flavored with brown sugar syrup or fruit-flavored syrup, whereas the jelly boba is made with flavored syrups only. So we do not need to do anything extra to flavor them.
* Once the tapioca boba is cooked, it needs to be consumed in a day or two. It cannit last long in the fridge. On the contrary, jelly boba can stay well in the fridge for a longer period. Though uncooked tapioca pearls have a much much better shelf life than jelly boba.
You can use any kind of tea. Be it black tea or green tea.
For me, the mild flavor of green tea works best in lychee bubble tea or lychee boba. So, for this recipe, I recommend using green tea.
You can use tea bags or tea leaves whatever you have on hand.
I am using whole milk for making this lychee milk tea. If you are vegan you can use your favorite plant-based milk. Also, you can use coffee creamer if you like. if that is what you like to use, then do reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener as creamer is already enough sweet.
For raising the bar of indulgence and in case you are prepping this tea for someone special, use half and half. Half and half will make the tea more creamy, bubbly, and smooth.
Conventionally brown sugar syrup is added to the lychee bubble tea, but I am going to keep this recipe simple and approachable. So, I am gonna make a simple syrup to go with the bubble tea. You can use any kind of sugar and sweetener that you like.
Instructions for making the lychee bubble tea
Step 1 -Cooking boba
I am using the mini clear boba for making this lychee bubble tea. You can use whichever you have. Boil a pan of water and cook boba as per the packaging instructions. Let the water come to a boil first. When the water is boiling, add boba slowly and let them cook. It may take a minute or 2 more than the suggested time on the package. So, check a pearl to ensure that they are all cooked through.
Now strain them and retain ¼ cup of water and add white sugar or brown sugar to it. Cook until it forms a thin syrup.
Let it cool a bit and then pour over the cooked boba to sweeten them and prevent them from sticking together.
Based on the type of boba, cooking time will vary. since mine were mini tapioca pearls. They cooked really fast.
Step 2 - Brewing tea for the lychee milk tea
Brew the tea, the way you like it. You can either use teabags. Take boiling water to steep the tea bags. Steep for 3 minutes and then remove the tea bags. Set aside and let the tea cool.
Now if you are brewing tea leaves, boil water to the level of a constant boil. Maintain the heat and steep the tea leaves for about 2 minutes in boiling water. Strain and let the tea cool.
Step3 -Making lychee juice/ puree
If you are using fresh lychees, take 8-9 peeled lychees and remove the pit. Put them in a food processor and blend to form a smooth puree. Then strain the puree to get rid of ant pulp chuck if left.
Straining is totally optional, you can use the puree as such also. Let the strained syrup chill in the fridge before you use it to make the lychee milk tea.
If you are using the canned lychee, use some more as the flavor in the canned lychees is not that fresh and refreshing. You can even use the lychee syrup to sweeten the tapioca pearls.
Step 4 Assembling the lychee bubble tea
Now that we have prepared all the elements needed for making the lychee bubble tea or lychee boba, gather all the ingredients for making this delicious drink.
This recipe will make two glasses of bubble tea. You can double or triple the recipe as per your family's needs.
Into the glass, add the tapioca pearls. Now, pour in the sugar syrup ( you might not need that if you are using a coffee creamer). Further, add the tea and lychee juice. Mix everything well. Now add in the ice cubes and pour in the milk.
Close the lid and give it a shake. Shaking will create bubbles, which is an essential part of this bubble tea.
Grab a wide straw( boba straw) and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Though the terms boba and bubble tea can be used interchangeably, it is more of a vernacular affair.
In Asian countries, the term boba is used to refer to the drink. Whereas in the west, we call boba to the tapioca pearls and bubble tea is the sweet milk tea served with the chewy tapioca pearls
Boba lychee is just another name for lychee bubble tea. Some boba cafes sell lychee bubble tea with the name boba lychee. It’s the lychee-flavored bubble milk tea.
Okay, so lychee boba is lychee flavored boba tea. Lychee is a sub-tropical fruit grown mainly in China and India. It is a white-fleshed juice-filled fruit that tastes like a super fragrant grape with some rosy scent.
The lychee bubble tea is fragrant, sweet, and smooth. Tea flavor gives the depth, lychee gives the sweet fragrant taste, milk imparts smoothness, boba balls give a texture and the bubbles give it a unique mouth feels.
Lychee gives a sweet grape-like flavor but is more fragrant and scented. Lychee bubble tea is a must-try drink. It has an amazingly addictive taste.
Bubble tea is a milk tea that is shaken to form bubbles and served with some tapioca balls. It could be just tea flavored or a combination of tea and fruits. It could use green tea, black tea, jasmine tea, white tea, or matcha tea.
There are numerous variations but mostly it is served with Tapioca pearls dunked in brown sugar syrup.
Well if you want to decide whether to get the bubble tea with boba balls or the lychee jelly in terms of health benefits, you should go with lychee jelly.
The tapioca pearls are of course high in calories as they are nothing but starch. But in addition to starch, there are more chemicals used to stabilize and improve the texture of the boba balls. So, bobs balls have high carbs and chemicals.
Now the lychee jelly has equal if not less chemical ingredients, but it is much lower in carbs.
In addition to the lychee bubble tea, there are some more flavors of bubble tea that you might find interesting. Butterfly pea flower milk tea, Peppermint milk tea, Lavender milk tea, Kashmiri chai milk tea, and Crème brûlée milk tea are a few.
The tapioca pearls or the boba balls need to be chewed before swallowing. Swallowing the tapioca pearls can be hazardous.
Even on absorbing the maximum amount of moisture, the tapioca pearls do not dissolve by themselves. They are difficult to digest as such. So always make sure that you chew them before swallowing.
Nothing is bad in moderation. But excess of everything is bad.
If you drink too much boba, almost every day, it may cause some long-term health hazards. Let us be honest bubble tea is sugar and carb-rich food. Drinking boba regularly does not fall in the scheme of a healthy balanced diet.
But It is not gonna clog your intestine at all. But consuming too many sugars can make you dehydrated. High sugar bubble tea could be in some way contributing to that.
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If you like this lychee bubble tea recipe, please leave a rating and a comment. It helps me create more recipes like this one.
Make it delicious!
Recipe card for the Lychee Bubble Tea
Lychee bubble tea
For cooking boba:
- ⅓ cup mini clear boba or any standard boba tapioca pearls
- 1 ½ cups water for boiling or more depending on the type of boba retain ¼ cup for syrup
- 6 tablespoon white or brown sugar
For brewing tea:
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 2 green tea bags or 2 teaspoons of leaves
For making lychee juice:
- 8-9 fresh lychees or canned lychee
For assembling the bubble tea:
- ¾ cup milk
Step 1 cooking boba
- Boil water in a saucepan and add tapioca pearls once the water starts to boil. Now, cook boba as per the packaging instructions. Let the water come to a boil first. When the water is boiling, add boba slowly and let them cook. It may take a minute or 2 more than the suggested time on the package. So, check a pearl to ensure that they are all cooked through.
- Now strain them and retain ¼ cup of water and add white sugar or brown sugar to it. Cook until it forms a thin syrup.
- Let it cool a bit and then pour over the cooked boba to sweeten them and prevent them from sticking together.
- Based on the type of boba, cooking time will vary. ( Read the instructions on the boba package carefully)
Step 2 Brewing tea
- Brew the tea, the way you like it. You can either use teabags. Take boiling water to steep the tea bags. Steep for 3 minutes and then remove the tea bags. Set aside and let the tea cool and then refrigerate.
- Now if you are brewing tea leaves, boil water to the level of a constant boil. Maintain the heat and steep the tea leaves for about 2 minutes in boiling water. Strain and let the tea cool before putting it in the refrigerator.
Step 3 Making lychee juice/ puree
- If you are using fresh lychees, take 8-9 lychees. Remove the skin and the pit. Put them in a food processor and blend to form a smooth puree.
- Then strain the puree to get rid of any pulp chuck if left.
- Let the strained syrup chill in the fridge. ( if you are using canned lychee, see the notes)
Step 4 Assembling the lychee bubble tea
- In to the glasses first, add the tapioca pearls. Now, pour in the sugar syrup. Further, add the tea and lychee juice. Mix everything well. Now add in the ice cubes and pour in the milk. Close the lid and give it a shake. Shaking will create bubbles.
- Grab a wide boba straw and enjoy!
- This recipe will make two glasses of lychee bubble tea. You can double or triple the recipe as per your family's needs. Also, adjust the sugar syrup according to your liking.
- All boba are different. Some are quick to cook than others. Follow the cooking instructions on the package. Also, check a pearl by pressing in between the hands to ensure that they are cooked thoroughly, before turning off the flame.
- You need to prep all the ingredients ahead of time and chill them, before assembling the tea.
- Straining the lychee puree is optional, you can use the puree as such also.
- If you are using the canned lychee for making the bubble tea, use some more as the flavor in the canned lychees is not that fresh and refreshing. You can even use the lychee syrup to sweeten the tapioca pearls.
- Adjust the quantity of sugar syrup based on your liking and the need. You might not need it if you are using a coffee creamer.