This creamy, rich taro milk tea made with a jasmine tea base, milk and black tapioca boba tastes just like your favorite bubble tea recipe! Taro bubble tea is so easy to make at home and is way cheaper than buying it ready-made at the bubble tea store.
What does taro taste like?
If you’ve never had taro before, taro bubble tea is probably the best way to first try it. Taro is one of the most popular boba tea flavors and not just because it is a beautiful purple color.
Taro is a starchy root vegetable, like a potato. It tastes a tiny, tiny bit like a potato— but that’s not really an appetizing way to sell the flavor. It’s hard to describe taro flavor using other flavors. It has a very sweet taste, with a slight hint of vanilla. In taro boba tea, there is sugar and milk added so it will taste much sweeter than eating the vegetable on its own. But no description will give the unique flavor of taro justice on its own. You just have to try it, and boba tea is the easiest way!
Milk Tea vs. Bubble Tea vs. Boba Tea
These three terms are often thrown around a lot and you may wonder what the difference between each of these drinks is. There is none!
They are all referring to the same drink. Typically a tea base with some type of flavor added, in this case jasmine tea with taro flavor. Some recipes will add milk, others will add cream or sweetened condensed milk. Most versions add in extra sugar, which could be granulated sugar, dark brown sugar or even honey. And normally all versions will contain boba —aka tapioca pearls — that are the defining characteristic of bubble tea.
Taro Powder vs. Real Taro Root
You may find some different recipes for taro bubble tea, some using taro flavored powder and some using real taro root, and wonder which one you should use. This recipe uses taro powder for several reasons:
- First off, when you order from a bubble tea store, they make taro boba tea using this powder. So you actually get a more “authentic” tasting milk tea using the powder rather than the actual root. Basically, this version will taste more like the version you are used to buying from the bubble tea store.
- It is so much simpler and faster to use the powder! Stirring in a powder rather than cooking taro root saves so much time.
- It is easier to find taro powder rather than raw taro root. Your local Asian grocery store will have both, but not everyone is close to an Asian grocery store. For those who aren’t, it’s easy to order taro powder online.
- Taro Powder: If you are close to an Asian grocery store, buy the powder from there as they will have the best prices. If not, it’s easy to order on Amazon. Some places sell a container of powder, others sell sachets of 25g. Either one of these options will work for this recipe.
- Black Tapioca Pearls (aka boba): Again, these will be cheapest to buy from an Asian supermarket, but you can also find the same brands on Amazon.
- Jasmine Green Tea: Taro milk tea typically uses jasmine green tea, but really, any type of green tea works. I use tea bags because it is simpler, but you can also use loose leaf tea leaves, just make sure to strain the leaves once the tea has steeped.
- Granulated Sugar: This is for making the simple syrup that will coat the cooled boba.
How to make taro milk tea:
Make the green tea: Steep the bag of tea for 15 minutes, remove the tea bag and stir in the taro powder. Then, chill the tea until cold in the fridge.
Make the simple syrup: On a saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in water to form a simple syrup. This will be used to coat the boba pearls. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
Cook the boba: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the boba pearls. At first, they will sink, but after about 20 seconds will rise to the top. Lower the heat and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Once the boba are done, strain them and run them under cold water for a minute. Then add them to the simple syrup mixture.
When ready to drink, mix all the ingredients together, add in some ice and enjoy!
Is taro bubble tea vegan?
Typically, no it is not because it contains milk and non vegan ingredients in the taro powder. However, you can easily make a couple substitutions to make this drink vegan:
- Use almond or oat milk. Instead of adding regular milk, use almond milk, oat milk, or any other type of non-dairy milk substitute instead. This will slightly change the taste, but will still be delicious.
- Use a vegan taro powder. Most taro powders contain a non dairy creamer which includes sodium caseinate. This is a cow milk derivative and is not vegan. You will need to buy a pure vegan taro powder. (I have not tried this specific taro powder brand and receive no commission from including this link— just adding this suggestion to be helpful to those searching for a vegan option).
- Add more milk & sugar. Keep in mind that because you will be using a taro powder without creamer, you will need to add a bit more almond or oat milk and extra simple syrup. Adjust these to your taste.
Tips & Tricks:
- Cook the boba fresh. You can make the tea and simple syrup well in advance, but cook the boba when you are ready to have your drink. Boba does not last more than a few hours after being cooked. Store them at room temperature while you prepare your tea, not in the fridge. The cold will make the boba hard.
- Use bubble tea straws. Regular straws are too small for boba to pass through. But boba straws are wide enough to be able to suck up the boba. Drinking boba tea without a straw is not very satisfying. The easiest place to find these straws is on Amazon for less than $10.
- Adjust the sweetness & creaminess. Everyone has a different preference for how creamy and sweet they like their bubble tea. This recipe is on the healthier side — no skimping on taste, but not too heavy on the calories. That being said, if you want a sweeter tea, add in more simple syrup. For extra creaminess, add in a couple tablespoons of heavy cream or half and half. Don’t add too much more milk or you will start to dilute the taro flavor.
This recipe does contain milk. However, it is easy to substitute the milk for almond milk or oat milk to make this milk tea dairy free. Also, make sure to buy a taro powder that contains non-dairy creamer.
The bubble tea with the bright purple color is taro flavored! This is a massively popular flavor and is distinguished by its vibrant purple color.
No, they are different vegetables. Ube is a purple yam and taro is a root. In raw form, taro root is actually much lighter and almost white compared to ube which has a dark, rich purple color. While it is possible to have ube milk tea, taro is a much more popular milk tea flavor.
Yes, there is some caffeine but not a lot. The only caffeine comes from the caffeine in the tea. There is no caffeine in the taro milk powder.
Boba are chewy, tasteless tapioca balls, which have a gummy consistency. On their own, they don’t have much taste, but when they are coated in sugar and mixed into the milk tea, they absorb some of the flavor of the drink.
Yes, boba are meant to be chewed. Swallowing them whole could be a risk for choking, and defeats the purpose of including boba in your drink at all.
This depends on the type of creamer used and how much sugar is added. In this recipe, milk and a small amount of sugar is added for sweetness, which makes a delicious drink without being too unhealthy. For one serving of this taro milk tea, there is 254 calories. However, some versions add heavy cream, half and half or even sweetened condensed milk for an extra creamy taste. These recipes can have a lot more calories.