Taro milk tea is a vibrant purple boba made with jasmine tea, taro root, milk, and tapioca pearls. Each sip is sweet, creamy, and full of unique and exciting flavors. Try making your own for just a fraction of the price of store-bought!
Table of Contents
- 🍵 What is taro milk tea?
- 🍠 What is taro root?
- 😋 What does taro milk tea taste like?
- 💜 Taro root vs taro powder
- 📜 History
- 🫖 Milk tea vs bubble tea
- 🌱 Is taro bubble tea vegan?
- 🛒 Ingredients & substitutions
- 📝 Instructions
- 🧋 How to drink bubble tea
- 🌡️ Storage
- ♻️ Variations
- 🧑🍳 Top tips
- 💬 FAQ
- 🍴 More recipes like this one
- 📋 Recipe
🍵 What is taro milk tea?
Taro milk tea (more specifically taro bubble tea) is a type of Taiwanese bubble tea made from a combination of taro root, milk, jasmine tea, and tapioca pearls.
The taro root may be freshly cooked and blended or used in powder form. Although it's ideal to use fresh taro root, we made this recipe with powdered taro since it's more easily accessible around the world (and what most bubble tea shops use).
This bubble tea is not only prized for its gorgeous pastel purple hue, but it also has a uniquely delicious flavor profile.
🍠 What is taro root?
Taro root is a starchy tuber with a brown outer skin. On the inside, it has white flesh with small purple specks throughout.
Taro is originally thought of as an Asian root vegetable since it was first cultivated there, but it's now becoming more available in other places around the world.
You can find taro root in many Asian and Southeast Asian dishes such as mochi, mooncakes, dumplings, ice creams, milkshakes, and more.
Not only is taro root a great source of fiber, but it carries many health benefits like reducing heart disease risk and aiding in weight loss.
😋 What does taro milk tea taste like?
Taro tastes sweet, earthy, and potato-like with subtle hints of vanilla. Due to its starchy nature, it creates a thick and creamy texture once cooked and blended.
Paired with coconut milk and jasmine tea, taro milk tea is full of floral, nutty, and mellow flavors.
💜 Taro root vs taro powder
Depending on accessibility and time constraints, both fresh taro root and taro powder work equally well in this recipe.
Taro powder will save you time and is easier to find. But, if you have taro root available near you, try making a fresh paste to add to your taro bubble tea!
Note: If you buy taro powder, make sure it's 100% taro root as many brands add milk ingredients, sugar, food coloring, etc.
Taro boba tea is said to have originated in Taiwan in the 80s along with other bubble teas. These drinks quickly spread to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, and later made their way west around the 90s.
Because of its unique flavor and beautiful color, taro milk tea is now a popular drink all over the world. In fact, taro bubble tea is one of the most widely consumed flavors.
🫖 Milk tea vs bubble tea
Milk tea — Refers to a variety of tea-based drinks from across the world. Basically, it's tea with milk in it.
Boba — A broad category of drinks that can be made from juice or tea and have some type of chunky bits in them. This could be tapioca, fruit, or jellies.
Bubble tea, boba tea, pearl milk tea — Varying by region, all of these monikers refer to virtually the same thing — tea with milk and tapioca pearls.
For more information, check out this bubble tea article by Leslie Nguyen-Okwu.
🌱 Is taro bubble tea vegan?
Taro bubble tea is typically served with dairy-based milk at boba tea shops. Although, there are sometimes dairy-free milk options.
Of course, we wanted to make a version that is suitable for all dietary preferences, so plant milk it is!
Our favorite choice for taro milk tea is coconut because its rich and creamy flavors compliment the vanilla notes of taro perfectly.
🛒 Ingredients & substitutions
Taro — Use powdered taro or fresh taro root. Just remember, store-bought taro powder is often sweetened, so you may need to adjust the sugar accordingly.
Jasmine tea — We prefer loose-leaf jasmine green tea for taro bubble tea, but you can use tea bags as well. Careful not to let it steep past 3 minutes to avoid a bitter flavor. You can try other teas as well like regular green tea or Ceylon tea.
Milk — Coconut milk is our favorite for its rich, creamy, full-bodied taste. If you don't have full-fat coconut milk, replace it with soy, oat, or cashew milk.
Cane sugar — To sweeten the tapioca pearls and the taro milk tea itself. Adjust up or down depending on your preferences and the taro powder you use. You can also use agave, maple syrup, or coconut sugar for different flavors.
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Step 1 — Bring the water for the tapioca pearls to boil in a medium-large saucepan. Once boiling, add in the tapioca pearls and lower the heat to just under medium.
Step 2 — Simmer for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook time will depend on your specific pearls. Make sure to check your package for instructions, but ours took 30 minutes.
Step 3 — Add the cane sugar and water to a small saucepan and whisk them together. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes, or until the sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from heat and reserve a few tablespoons, then add the rest to a medium mixing bowl.
Step 4 — Strain the tapioca pearls through a fine-mesh strainer, rinsing them lightly. Transfer the pearls to the mixing bowl with the syrup and stir to combine. Set aside to soak while you make the tea.
Step 5 — While the tapioca pearls are soaking, bring water for the tea to boil, then let it cool for a few minutes (it should be ~175-180°F). Brew the jasmine tea for 2-3 minutes, then remove the leaves and let the tea cool down.
Step 6 — Add the brewed tea, taro powder, coconut milk, 3 tablespoons of simple syrup, and a pinch of salt to a blender. Mix for 30-60 seconds, or until smooth. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking.
Step 7 — Using a slotted spoon, transfer 3-4 tablespoons of tapioca pearls to a glass or cup. Fill it ½ - ¾ full with ice, then fill the rest with the taro milk tea mixture. Happy drinking!
If you have questions about making taro bubble tea, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!
🧋 How to drink bubble tea
If you are serving your taro milk tea with boba, you'll want to use a wide-mouth straw made for bubble tea. There are a lot of different materials to choose from like bamboo and metal, but we tend to prefer glass bubble tea straws.
Once your tea is made, simply slurp up some tea with a few boba and enjoy! Note: Careful not to sip too quickly to prevent choking on the tapioca pearls.
If you find yourself with extra taro boba tea, these are the best storage instructions to keep it fresh:
Fully assembled milk tea — Consume immediately for the best flavor and texture.
Fridge — If you store the tea without the tapioca pearls, it will last in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Freezer — Leftover milk tea freezes well in ice cube trays. Use these frozen cubes in place of regular ice in your next batch of taro bubble tea.
Prep in advance — Prepare the jasmine tea in advance and keep it in your fridge in a glass container. You can also prep the syrup 2-3 weeks in advance.
Dry tapioca pearls — Homemade boba will last 6 months (uncooked). Once cooked however, they are best consumed within an hour or two.
Taro powder — Make your own taro powder by dehydrating cooked taro root, then blending it into a fine consistency.
Fresh taro root — Instead of taro powder, try making this drink from fresh taro. Peel and cube taro root, boil it until soft, and blend it with the tea, sweetener, and coconut milk until you achieve your preferred consistency.
Alternate sweetener — If you don't like cane sugar, you can opt for maple syrup, agave, date sugar, or coconut sugar.
Sugar-free — Use monk fruit, stevia, or leave out the sweeteners altogether for a sugar-free version of taro bubble tea.
Different pearls — Try using clear boba, coconut jellies, popping boba, taro boba, or mini boba instead of black tapioca pearls.
Flavors — Add flavor extracts like vanilla, coconut, or almond to enhance your taro boba tea.
🧑🍳 Top tips
Use fresh pearls — Make sure to use the cooked pearls right away for the softest and chewiest boba.
Bubble tea straws — For a better drinking experience, make sure you use wide-mouth straws designed for bubble tea.
Use good quality tea — Opt for a high-quality jasmine tea to ensure the best flavors in your taro milk tea.
Steep time — Max steep time for jasmine green tea is 3 minutes. If you over steep it, you run the risk of your drink turning bitter.
While both belong to the sweet potato family, taro root has brownish-grey skin with mostly white flesh. Ube has a brown exterior with a vibrant purple interior. The flavor of ube is sweet, white chocolatey, and pistachio-like.
Taro milk tea only contains caffeine if the tea base is made from caffeine-containing varieties (e.g. jasmine green tea or black tea). This particular recipe contains caffeine, but you can use a decaf tea or replace it with more milk or water.
Although taro milk tea has many health benefits, consuming it too much or too frequently will likely result in a surplus of daily calories. We believe moderation is the best policy when it comes to drinks like this!
🍴 More recipes like this one
If you enjoyed this taro milk tea recipe, be sure to check out our other dairy-free milk teas:
- Hokkaido milk tea: A creamy Japanese-inspired beverage made from black tea, plant-based "Hokkaido milk", sweetener, and tapioca pearls.
- Jasmine milk tea: Made from jasmine green tea, coconut milk, cane sugar, and boba to make a creamy, floral, and light afternoon treat.
- Honeydew milk tea: Refreshing melon, green tea, plant milk, and pearls served over ice.
- Oolong milk tea: A rich, toasty, and flavorful drink made with oolong plant milk, and boba.
- Thai tea boba: Ice-cold Thai iced tea infused with spices and paired with pearls.
Easy Taro Milk Tea (With Boba)
- Medium saucepan
- Small saucepan
- Boba straws
- ½ cup uncooked black tapioca pearls ($0.70)
- 6 cups water
- ⅓ cup cane sugar + ⅓ cup water ($0.03)
- 1 ½ cups filtered water
- 1 tablespoon loose-leaf jasmine green tea ($0.35)
- 3 tablespoons vegan-friendly taro powder ($2.00)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk* ($0.45)
- ½ cup water
- 3-4 tablespoons extra simple syrup ($0.02)
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt ($0.01)
- Ice to serve optional
- Bring the water for the tapioca pearls to boil in a medium-large saucepan. Once boiling, add in the tapioca pearls and lower the heat to just under medium.
- Simmer for 15-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook time will depend on your specific pearls (check the package for instructions — ours take 30 minutes).
- In the meantime, prepare the simple syrup. Add cane sugar and water to a small saucepan and whisk together. Bring to a simmer for about 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from heat and reserve ¼ cup, then add the rest to a medium mixing bowl.
- Strain the tapioca pearls through a fine-mesh strainer, rinsing them lightly. Transfer the pearls to the mixing bowl with the simple syrup and stir to combine. Set aside for ~30-40 minutes to soak.
- While the tapioca pearls are soaking, bring water for the tea to boil, then let it cool for a few minutes (it should be ~175-180°F). Brew the jasmine tea for 2-3 minutes, then remove the tea leaves and let the tea cool down to room temperature.
Taro milk tea
- When the tapioca pearls and jasmine tea are ready, add the jasmine tea, taro powder, coconut milk, water, 3 tablespoons of simple syrup, and salt to a blender. Mix for 30-60 seconds, or until smooth. Taste and adjust the cane sugar to your liking.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer 3-4 tablespoons of tapioca pearls to a glass or cup. Fill it ½ - ¾ full with ice, then fill the rest with the taro mixture. Happy drinking!
- Use fresh pearls — Make sure to use the cooked pearls right away for the softest and chewiest boba.
- Bubble tea straws — For a better drinking experience, make sure you use wide-mouth straws designed for bubble tea.
- Use good quality tea — Opt for a high-quality jasmine tea to ensure the best flavors in your taro milk tea.
- Steep time — Max steep time for jasmine green tea is 3 minutes. If you over steep it, you run the risk of your drink turning bitter.
- If you don’t have full-fat coconut milk, you can also use regular coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe to recipe. All prices are in USD.