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Maple Chai Bubble Tea {vegan}

It looks like a milky-tan iced latte. Then you spot the little brown-black orbs settled in layers near the bottom of the cup. Slurp the bubbles through a wide straw, roll those pearls all over your tongue, savoring them with sips of sweet milk tea, bubble tea. Here’s how to make homemade maple chai bubble tea at home.
Maple Chai Bubble Tea

Truth is, I’d never even heard of bubble tea, until I linked on a random email telling me to make bubble tea at home. That bubble tea recipe was made with sweetened condensed milk and Lipton tea. Those curious dark bubbles got me to thinking about a healthier vegan version?

Why not make it with brewed cinnamon-spiced chai tea and almond milk? Then sweeten my bubble tea with maple syrup, and flavor the bubbles with iron-rich molasses instead of brown sugar? Well, I’m here to tell you this maple chai bubble tea tastes like heaven from a straw!
Click here to PIN Maple Chai Bubble Tea!


Bubble tea is easy—and fun! You first plump the bubbles from tapioca pearls and molasses syrup. They need to be soft, not too soft, and chewy but not too chewy. You get to play Goldilocks and decide when the bubbles are “just right.” Then you brew tea, stir in milk and sweetener, and pour it over the dark brown bubbles.

Tapioca Bubbles for Maple Chai Bubble Tea

You can also enjoy this iced sweet tea without the bubbles. Simply, maple syrup sweetened chai tea with almond milk over ice makes a refreshing pick-me-up all on its own, especially on a hot summer day.

Maple Chai Bubble Tea

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and has spread like wildfire to tea and coffee shops, Asian restaurants and strip mall mom and pops everywhere. Did you know that boba, the tapioca bubbles, come in juice as well as tea, and come in as many flavors you can dream up?

For sure this homemade maple chai bubble tea is better for you than any you can buy. How can it not be? Naturally sweetened with maple syrup, dairy-free lightened with almond milk, made with quality chai tea—I’m fine if it’s the only bubble tea I’ll ever sip.

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Have you ever slurped the bubbles of bubble tea? Have you ever made bubble tea at home?

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Maple Chai Bubble Tea
Maple Chai Bubble Tea
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Chai tea with almond milk and maple syrup is delicious even without the bubbles. The bubbles are fun, unique and quirky. Kids love them!
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Dairy Free
Author: Letty | Letty's Kitchen
The bubbles:
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup small dried tapioca pearls, (not quick cooking)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
The Chai Tea:
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 Chai black tea bags, (see note)
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup maple syrup, amount depending on your sweet tooth
Make the bubbles:
  1. Bring water and tapioca pearls to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, again, stirring every few minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, another 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over low flame, mix the water and molasses, stirring to make a brown syrup. Set aside.
  4. Put the cooked tapioca pearls in a sieve to drain. The liquid will be slightly gelatinous and won’t flow like water, not to worry, just drain most of the liquid off.
  5. Drop the translucent bubbles into the molasses syrup. On the lowest possible flame, heat the syrup and the bubbles.
  6. Bite into a few pearls to test doneness. You want your tooth to find them soft, yet with some chewy texture. If you think they need more time to soften, let them barely simmer. If you determine they are perfect, remove from the heat. Either way, in about 15 minutes the little drops will become brown bubbles the color of the molasses syrup.
Brew the tea:
  1. Bring the water to a boil. Add the tea bags and let steep 15 minutes. The tea should be strong, but not with bitter flavor. Remove the tea bags. When the tea has cooled, add the milk.
  2. Stir in the lesser amount of maple syrup. Taste. If you prefer your tea sweeter like I do, stir in more maple syrup. Chill until cold.
  3. To chill the milk tea quickly, use an ice bath: Fill a large bowl with ice and nest the tea container in it. Stir occasionally until cold. This takes about 5 minutes.
To serve:
  1. Drop 3 tablespoons or more of the brown bubbles in a clear glass. Pour cold milk tea over the bubbles. Serve with straws.
Recipe Notes
  • I used small pearl tapioca. When the pearls swell they are just small enough to slurp through a regular straw. If you make the bubbles with large tapioca pearls, you will need fatter straws. Buy them at Oriental stores or online.
  • After boiling the tapioca, there may be a few pearls left with white in the center--bite into one of those to make sure they are soft, but still chewy. As long as they are soft, they’ll be fine, they will just take more time to soak up color.
  • I used Yogi tea Chai Black.
  • The bubbles come out brown, but will appear blacker against the milk tea.
  • Leftover bubbles grow less toothsome with time but can be kept in the fridge for a batch of tea the next day.


  • […] my bag of small white pearls, even after testing and re-testing dark chocolate tapioca pudding and bubble tea—both recipes call for such small amounts of […] Reply · 12 June, 2014

  • Sammie

    I made this drink with soy milk instead of almond milk and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing! Reply · 2 December, 2015

    • Love it! Bubble Tea is such a fun treat! Reply · 3 December, 2015

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