Velvety smooth and fragrant Earl Grey Milk Tea with tapioca pearls and brown sugar. This bubble tea is quintessentially British, creamy and with hints of citrus. Easy to make in the comfort of your home!
Ever since moving to London over a decade ago, I started drinking Earl Grey on a daily basis. I probably go through at least 3-4 cups of tea every day. The minute I added tapioca pearls to it, Earl Grey Boba became my number one drink.
Earl Grey Tea is one of the most quintessentially British teas, along with English Breakfast Tea. Known for its citrus fragrance and aromatic taste, Earl Grey is similar to English breakfast tea, but much more fragrant. Commonly prepared with milk, this delicious tea is ideal as a base for bubble tea.
This recipe is a twist on the classic Taiwanese bubble teas and the traditional Earl Grey tea. By adding boba pearls to Earl Grey with milk, the result is a delicious drink that’s fragrant and very rich.
Looking for more Milk Tea recipes? Check out reader-favourite Okinawa Milk Tea, Thai Milk Tea or Jasmine Milk Tea.
What is Earl Grey Milk Tea?
Earl Grey Milk Tea is a bubble tea made with Earl Grey tea, milk, and tapioca pearls. It’s a fragrant, sweet drink with floral hints of citrus.
Earl Grey Bubble Tea is a very popular Milk Tea due to its deep, rich flavour and citrus taste. This milk tea contains black tea, which has caffeine.
Tapioca pearls can also be added to elevate this drink further and add a chewy texture. The deep caramel flavour of boba pearls and sugar syrup works perfectly with the flavour or Earl Grey tea.
Typically, this drink is served hot. However, it can also be enjoyed cold for a summery drink.
Can you use Earl Grey for bubble tea?
Classic Taiwanese Bubble Tea is traditionally made with black tea. Since Earl Grey Tea contains black tea, this makes it a great base for bubble tea. Think of it as traditional bubble tea flavour, but with an extra layer of flavour. Earl Grey brings in delicious hints of citrus with a hint of floral, so this bubble tea is seriously next level!
The brown sugar syrup used to cook boba pearls works really well with the deep flavour of Earl Grey. You can enjoy Earl Grey Bubble Tea either warm or cold, it’s entirely your choice!
What does it taste like?
It tastes like black tea, with citrus notes of bergamot orange. This milk tea has the perfect balance between deep, malty flavours and subtle, floral notes. Although similar to traditional black milk tea, Earl Grey Boba has more freshness and lightness to it.
The flavour profile of Earl Grey Boba can be described as full-bodies, rich, malty, with light floral notes of citrus.
Earl Grey Tea is made by infusing black tea with bergamot peels or oil. Bergamot is a citrus that tastes like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit.
A splash of milk is added to give it a silky-smooth texture and make the flavours more subtle.
Why this tea is great
- Fragrant and rich: Earl Grey Tea is very fragrant and is a great base for bubble tea. The maltiness of black tea works perfectly with the light airiness of bergamot.
- Elevated flavour: Traditional Taiwanese Bubble Tea is made with black tea, so Earl Grey Bubble Tea is the next level. The flavour gets elevated with notes of citrus.
- Perfect balance: It's malty and deep, but also light and airy. It’s the perfect balance in terms of flavour and fragrance.
- Quick to make: This recipe is not only delicious, but also very easy and quick to make.
Types of Earl Grey Tea
Ever since its creation over two centuries ago, Earl Grey has become one of the most beloved British teas. This type of tea is commonly served with milk, which makes the flavour lighter and creamier.
Earl Grey Tea is made from black tea (commonly Ceylon) that’s infused with bergamot oil or peels.
There are many different types of Earl Grey Teas, and here are some of my favourites:
- Traditional Earl Grey: the most authentic type of Earl Grey Tea. This tea is made from Ceylon black tea and infused with bergamot oil. Sometimes flower petals are also added to loose-leaf Earl Grey, such as: bergamot, blue mallow, or safflower. You can use Earl Grey teabags or loose leaf Earl Grey. For an authentic flavour, choose this one.
- Lady Grey: A twist on the traditional flavour, Lady Grey tea contains less bergamot oil. Instead, its distinct flavour comes from lemon or orange peels. Go for Lady Grey Tea if you like lighter, more fruity tasting teas.
- Smoky Earl Grey: a much stronger flavour, with deeper and more bitter smoky notes. Smoky Earl Grey is made from a blend of lapsang souchong tea, which is much more intense. Use this blend with caution, as it can be a little overpowering.
- Lavender Earl Grey: is one of the favourite blends of Earl Grey in France. The addition of lavender makes the blend even more floral and aromatic, with gentle, calming notes. Choose Lavender Earl Grey for a more floral and sophisticated flavour.
- Green Earl Grey or Earl Green: made with green tea instead of black tea as a base. This blend tastes much fresher and lighter than traditional Earl Grey. Choose Earl Green Tea for a more subtle and summery flavour.
- Earl Grey tea: the most important ingredient in this recipe. See the section above for more details on choosing the best Earl Grey tea.
- Milk: whole milk is recommended for this recipe.
- Boba pearls: brown sugar boba pearls work best. I like using 5-minute Wu Fu Yuan tapioca pearls because they are very easy and quick to cook.
- Brown sugar: used for making the sugar syrup. Regular light brown sugar works best for this recipe. You can replace brown sugar syrup with runny honey.
- Water: Filter water is needed for brewing Earl Grey tea.
- Cream: optional, as a topping. Add a little cream for extra creaminess.
How to brew perfect Earl Grey Tea
Brewing Earl Grey tea is exactly the same as English breakfast tea. Here’s how to get the perfect flavour:
- Boil filtered water to 208°F (98°C). Use a kitchen thermometer if needed.
- If using loose leaf Earl Grey, place them into an infuser. If using teabags, place them directly into the teapot.
- Pour hot water over the tea, then steep for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the tea.
- Use immediately for a hot drink or let cool down for cold milk tea.
Pro tip: never steep Earl Grey tea for longer than 5 minutes, as it can make the tea taste bitter. For a stronger taste, just 1 extra teabag or teaspoon of tea.
How to make from scratch
Making this boba tea from scratch is only takes a few minutes. Start by preparing all the components of the recipe: the sugar syrup, tapioca pearls and Earl Grey tea.
- Prepare the sugar syrup by cooking the brown sugar and water until thickened.
- Cook the tapioca pearls, drain, and add them into the sugar syrup.
- Add the boba pearls into the sugar syrup.
- Separately, prepare the Earl Grey tea as indicated in the section above. Let the tea cool down for 10 minutes before consuming.
Pro tip: for an even quicker process, replace the sugar syrup with runny honey or agave syrup.
Once all the components are ready, we can begin assembling the Earl Grey Bubble Tea:
- Into a large serving glass place the cooked boba pearls and sugar syrup.
- Pour hot Earl Grey tea over the boba.
- Add warm milk on top, then mix to combine. Serve hot and enjoy immediately for the best taste.
- Optional: top with a little cream for extra creaminess.
Pro tip: always warm up the milk before adding it into Earl Grey tea to prevent it from curdling.
Success Tips & Tricks
- Good quality tea: Earl Grey is the most important ingredient in this recipe, so using high quality tea is essential. See the section on Types of Earl Grey tea for more details on how to choose the perfect tea.
- Perfect flavour tea: Do not steep the tea for more than 5 minutes, as this can give it a bitter and unpleasant taste. For a stronger tea, just add 1 extra teabag or ½ teaspoon of loose-leaf tea.
- Adjust sweetness: You can make this Earl Grey bubble tea as sweet as you wish, so adjust the sugar syrup to your preference.
- Warm up the milk: Adding cold milk into hot tea can make the milk curdle. Always heat up the milk until warm before adding it into the hot tea to prevent curdling.
- Serve hot: Earl Grey Milk Tea tastes best hot, so I recommend letting the tea cool down for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Bubble tea straws: Boba pearls are too large to go through regular straws, so I recommend getting reusable bubble tea straws.
How to serve
Earl Grey Bubble Tea is best served freshly made, whilst still hot for the best flavour. It doesn’t need to be piping hot, but still on the hot side.
Boba pearls need to be consumed within a maximum of 2 hours, so cook them right before assembling the milk tea.
Frequently asked questions
Earl Grey Tea should always be served with milk for an authentic British flavour. I recommend using warm, whole milk for the best flavour.
Yes, this drink contains caffeine because it’s made with a black tea base, which contains coffee. However, black tea has much less caffeine than coffee.
Earl Grey bubble tea with pearls is typically between 240-400 Kcal. The exact number can vary greatly on how much sugar syrup is used in the recipe. This recipe contains approximately 240 Kcal.
Yes, Earl Grey Bubble Tea is sweet because it contains sugar syrup. However, the level of sweetness in this recipe can be adjusted or even made sugar-free.
Yes, it can be made with honey. Simply replace the sugar syrup in this recipe with honey, preferably the runny type.
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Earl Grey Milk Tea Recipe
- ½ cup brown sugar (100 grams)
- 3 ½ tablespoons water (50 grams)
- ¾ cup tapioca pearls (100 grams)
- 3 cups water (700 grams)
Earl Grey Tea Base
- 4 teaspoons Earl Grey Tea, loose leaf (or 4 teabags)
- 2 cups water, filtered (450 grams)
- ½ cup whole milk, warm (120 grams)
- Place the brown sugar and water into a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture starts bubbling.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the syrup becomes thicker, about 4-5 minutes.
- Cook the pearls as instructed on the package.
- Add the cooked boba pearls into the hot sugar syrup and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.
Earl Grey Tea Base
- Boil a kettle to 208°F (98°C). Use a kitchen thermometer if needed.
- Place the Earl Grey teabags or loose leaf tea into a teapot, then pour the hot water on top.
- Cover and steep for 5 minutes maximum. Remove the tea, then let the brewed Earl grey cool down for 10 minutes.
Assembling the Earl Grey Milk Tea
- Place 1-2 tablespoons of tapioca pearls into each glass. Add sugar syrup as desired to adjust the level of sweetness.
- Pour the hot tea on top.
- Warm the milk, then pour it on top of the tea, then mix to combine.
- Optional: top with cream for extra creaminess. Serve immediately whilst still hot.
- Sugar syrup can be replaced with runny honey.
- Sweetness can be adjusted according to personal preference.
- Nutritional value is estimative and is calculated per serving (this recipe makes 2 large servings) with tapioca pearls and 1 tablespoon of sugar syrup.
- Use boba pearls immediately after cooking them.
Ok can I just say that this is seriously good? I made it with twinings teabags and it was so good !
Hanelore Dumitrache says
Hi Mary, I've been drinking Twinings every day for the past decade, it's my favourite!
I'm lactose intolerant so I tried to replace normal milk with the barista oat milk of Minor Figures and it tasted amazing! Never knew that you can use Earl Grey this way.
I had some leftover boba from trying out your 5 minutes boba recipe so I figured I could give this a try and it came out so tasty and not overly sweet.
If there's one this this post has taught me is that I've been making tea wrong all this time! I always found Earl Grey a tiny bit bitter, but now that I made it with your instructions it was perfect! And the extra cream on top made it so much better too.
Hanelore Dumitrache says
Leaving tea to steep for even 2-3 minutes extra will always give it a bitter flavour. It takes a little care when preparing it, but it's so worth it for the best flavour!