Bubble tea -- also called boba or milk tea -- consists of a flavored bubble-tea powder added to tea or water, with chewy tapioca pearls. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan in 1985 and describes a category of drinks made with a milk base to give it a frothy and bubbly consistency. Occasionally, coconut jelly or soy pudding can take the place of tapioca pearls for texture. To make bubble tea with powder, use a bubble-tea powder that contains milk and flavoring powders. Buy the powder online or at your local Asian or natural food store.
Heat 3/4 cup of water in a pot on the stove to boiling. Remove the pot from the heat and add the tea bag or loose tea leaves. If you are using green tea, heat the water only until the bubbles begin to form on the bottom of the pot. Allow the tea to steep according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Boil 8 cups of water in a pot to prepare 1 cup of tapioca pearls. If you are preparing fewer tapioca pearls, adjust the amount of water accordingly, so that it keeps the eight-to-one ratio. Add the tapioca pearls to the boiling water and stir the tea for five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the tapioca pearls sit for 15 minutes. Remove any excess water.
Boil the other 3/4 cup of water and add one scoop of the bubble-tea powder, or follow the manufacturer's instructions if the package specifies a different amount. The scoop will likely come with the bubble-tea powder, but if it does not, substitute 4 tbsp. for one scoop.
Mix together the tea, bubble-tea powder mixture and 1 tbsp. of the cooked tapioca pearls. You can add sugar or another sweetener if needed, but the bubble tea-powder sometimes contains sugar, so add additional sweeteners carefully. Chill the bubble tea before serving it.