This ube milk tea recipe makes deliciously creamy, vibrant purple, ube flavored bubble tea with ube halaya (ube jam) and chewy boba pearls. It is very easy to make and totally satisfying. The recipe also includes options to make the drink using ube extract for a quick, ube drink fix. Served iced, this drink is simply perfect on a hot summer day!
What is Ube?
Ube is a tuber native to the Phillipines. It is widely used in Filipino dishes and has a mildly sweet, slightly earthy and nutty flavor. Ube has dark brown skin with vibrant purple flesh. Anyone who is not familiar with ube can easily mistaken it for purple sweet potatoes. While they look almost the same and taste almost similar, there is slight difference in both.
An interesting feature of ube is its natural, vibrant purple color (which is why is it also called purple yam). You can use ube to make a whole lot of sweet treats like this ube milk tea and others like ube rolls, ube syrup, ube ice cream, ube brownies, ube latte and ube leche flan for a unique flavor and natural color.
Ube can be found in fresh form in Asian markets or Filipino stores but is often very difficult to get unless you are in the Phillipines. The closest option to fresh ube in most cases is frozen grated ube.
You can also find ube in extract form in online stores, but it is often artificially flavored and colored.
❤️Why you will love this recipe
- This ube bubble tea recipe makes deliciously creamy, slightly nutty, and vibrant purple milk tea.
- It is easy to make, you get to learn how to make ube milk tea with real ube and the extract.
- Using ube provides an alternative flavor for bubble tea lovers to try and enjoy!
- You have 2 options to make the ube boba tea which you can choose from.
Options for making the bubble tea:
- With ube halaya (ube jam) – this gives the drink a creamy and slightly thicker texture. You need ube halaya in hand (store bought or homemade). It can be a little time consuming to make the ube halaya.
- With ube extract – extract gives the drink a lovely ube flavor, but it will not be as thick as making with ube halaya. It gives the drink a lovely ube flavor and vibrant purple color, however, both are not natural. Extract is an excellent choice when you are short on time to make. Ube extracts have much long shelf life compared to ube halaya, and is therefore the most convenient option to make ube milk tea the quickest, and anytime you want.
Refer to the "How to Make" section below for step by step instructions and the recipe card down below for exact measurements.
- With ube powder – there are 2 types of ube powder. One is the natural, unsweetened version and the other is a ube bubble tea powder (ube milk tea powder) that is sweetened. Making the bubble tea with powder also gives the drink a creamy and slightly thicker texture. It is lot faster to make the drink with powder compared to with ube halaya. You add it to milk and cook it until it thickens slightly and use it to make the bubble tea. Powders generally have a longer shelf life than ube halaya and it is convenient to make the drink anytime you want.
- With fresh ube – making with fresh ube simply requires you to peel and cut the ube into cubes and boil in milk. You can then strain the ube flavored milk and use it to steep the tea and make the bubble tea. The cooked ube is not required to be used in the drink.
- Ube halaya – this is a jam made using ube, coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, butter and sugar. It is thick and creamy (similar to taro paste) and full of ube flavor. You can make your own ube halaya or use store bought. Store bought ones tend to be very sweet, and you will need to adjust the sweetener in the drink.
- Milk – use full cream milk for a deliciously creamy milk tea. Full cream milk can be replaced with any other type of milk of choice like coconut milk, almond milk or oat milk. You can also use skim milk.
- Black tea – can be substituted with white tea or green tea. You can also omit the tea for a caffeine free option.
- Ube syrup – to soak the boba pearls and sweeten the ube milk. Can be replaced with brown sugar syrup for boba, plain simple syrup, or other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
- Tapioca pearls (uncooked) - you can make this on your own or purchase them from stores. They are usually sold in vacuum packed bags in dry form.
- Ube extract – to add extra flavor and color to the drink. This is optional but adds a lovely extra flavor and color to the drink.
*Refer to the recipe card below for full list of ingredients and exact quantities. For best results, use a digital kitchen scale where applicable*
🧾Substitutions and variations
- Ube syrup can be replaced with white sugar. For every 2 tablespoons of syrup used, replace with 1 tablespoon sugar. Add it to the warm milk after steeping the tea and stir until completely dissolved. No need to add any sweeteners to the boba pearls after cooking them.
- Tea bag can be replaced with loose tea. Use 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves for every bag of black tea used.
- To make the ube boba milk tea with ube extract (without ube halaya or powder) – omit ube halaya, and increase ube extract to 1 teaspoon. Add to the milk after steeping the tea. To assemble, add cooked boba pearls in ube syrup to a glass. Top with ice cubes and pour in the ube milk tea. Serve.
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you do try, please let me know in the comments section below!
👩🏻🍳How to make
Step 1: Make the ube halaya. If you are making your own ube halaya, refer to the ube halaya recipe here. You can make this in advance and refrigerate it.
Step 2: Steep the tea. Add milk into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bag. Let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bag and discard (images 1 & 2). Strain the milk to remove any milk skin.
Step 3: Make the ube milk tea. Add the ube halaya and ube extract into the warm milk (image 3) and mix well to make sure the jam and the extract is well dispersed and combined into the milk. You can use a hand whisk or a hand-held electric drink mixer (image 4). Set the purple yam milk aside to cool down or place in the refrigerator to cool further.
Step 4: Cook the boba pearls and soak in syrup. Measure water into a saucepan. Turn on the heat and let the water boil. Add the boba pearls into the boiling water (image 5) and stir to prevent them from sticking (image 6). As soon as the pearls start floating to the top, reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Let the boba cook for 15 minutes.
Note: If your boba pearls come with cooking instructions, follow the package instructions instead.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the balls soak in the hot water for another 15 minutes before straining them (image 7). Run through cold water to prevent them from sticking. Strain completely and mix the boba pearls with ube syrup (image 8). Set aside.
Note: If you prefer brown sugar syrup instead, follow the instructions on how to make brown sugar syrup for boba here.
Step 5: Assemble the bubble tea. Divide the cooked boba pearls into 2 drinking glasses along with the syrup (image 9). Top with ice cubes and pour the ube milk tea (image 10). Serve chilled.
- Cook boba pearls before serving - cooked boba pearls in syrup tend to hard if kept for too long. Hence, it is best to make them right before serving.
- Heat up only half of the milk to steep tea - when heating the milk to steep the tea, use only half of the milk. Let the other half of the milk chill in the fridge. You mix them both later, once the tea is steeped to help the hot milk cool down quicker.
No, ube and taro are very different. The closest comparison to ube is purple sweet potatoes, both in terms of looks and taste.
This is a sweet milk tea drink. It has a slightly thicker texture than regular milk teas from the ube halaya used in making the drink. Ube adds a delicious earthy flavor, with a hint of vanilla to the milk tea.
This ube tea is best served chill, immediately after making. If you wish to keep it longer, do not mix the boba pearls with the milk tea. The milk tea can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. The boba pearls however, are best cooked and added to the tea before serving (within a few hours) as they tend to harden when kept for long.
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Ube Milk Tea (Ube Bubble Tea)
For best results, use the metrics measurements. US customary measurements have not been tested and are only meant for guide.
- If you are making your own ube halaya, refer to the recipe here. This can be made in advance and kept refrigerated.
- Add milk into a saucepan and bring it to a boil (see Note 1) . Turn off the heat and add the tea bag. Cover and let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bag, press to extract as much tea as possible and discard the bag. Strain the milk to remove any milk skin.
- Add the ube halaya and ube extract into the warm milk and mix well. You can use a hand whisk or a hand-held electric drink mixer. Set aside to cool down and place in the refrigerator to cool further (see Note 2).
- In a separate saucepan, measure water to cook boba. Turn on the heat to medium high and let the water boil. Add the boba pearls into the boiling water and stir to prevent them from sticking. As soon as the pearls start floating to the top, reduce the heat to medium low or low and cover the pot. Let the boba cook for 15 minutes (see Note 3).
- After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the balls soak in the hot water for another 15 minutes before straining. Run the cooked pearls through cold water to prevent them from sticking. Strain completely and mix the boba pearls with ube syrup. Set aside.
- To assemble the milk tea, divide the cooked boba pearls in syrup into 2 drinking glasses along with the syrup. Top with ice cubes and pour the chilled ube milk tea. Serve chilled.
- Milk will overflow as it boils. Keep close watch as it heats up to prevent spills.
- For quicker cooling down, heat only half of the milk to steep the tea. Let the other half of the milk chill in the fridge. Mix both once the tea is steeped to help the hot milk cool down quicker.
- If your boba pearls come with cooking instructions, follow the package instructions instead.
- This recipe makes mildly sweetened milk tea. Add more syrup to the drink if you wish to make sweeter milk tea.
- Without the ube extract, the drink will be of a pastel purple color. The extract helps to add a move vibrant color to the drink. Adjust the amount of extract used accordingly to suit your liking.