homemade lemon barley bubble tea!

Do you love bubble tea as much as I do?  The sweet and refreshing combination of fruity tea and sago pearls is perfect on a warm day, and on a cold day there’s always warm milky bubble tea!  There’s something about slurping up chewy bumps in a drink that becomes addictive!  Yes, really!!  Here in ultra-asian-influenced Perth bubble tea is almost old hat!

Every Thursday my son and I have lunch together and we always go to the bubble tea shop.  I’m working my way through their huge selection of juicy and milky teas.  This week I felt inspired to try making my own natural version of bubble tea!


Once you have prepared the sago (aka tapioca) pearls, the liquid you put them in is completely up to you.  Think juicy tea, like the one I made here.  Or any fruit juice, milk drink, probiotic drink or tea!  I made mine with lemon barley water.  Keep reading if you’d like the recipe!


First I made the tapioca pearls.  These are the small ones, but the large ones are made the same way, they just cook for longer.  The basic method is bring about six cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pearls.  Let them come to the boil for one minute (they will float to the top) then cover and allow to simmer for 1o minutes for small pearls, 20 minutes for large.  When they are cooked some of them will still have a little white speck in the centre.  If they cook too long they will lose their distinctive chewiness!  Once cooked, drain and rinse in a fine mesh strainer several times.


This is what it looks like when it’s done.  Store the pearls in the fridge for several days, or they can be frozen in portions for quick use later!

To make the lemon barley water, combine six cups water, at least 1/2 cup of sweetener (I used a combination of agave syrup and stevia) and the juice and rind of two lemons.  Make sure you don’t get the white pith, it will make the drink bitter.  Rinse 3/4 cup of pearled barley really well in several changes of water.  Add to the liquid.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain the liquid and allow to cool (or drink hot if you’re ill!  It’s a curative.)  If you’re a purist you might like to return the barley to cook for another 40 minutes until done but slightly chewy, then you can add it to the drink for chunky chewy goodness!  I didn’t do it this time because I only had thin straws! 😦  By the way, these lemons are called “lemonades”, they are a variety that is a graft of grapefruit and lemon.  They are from a friend’s tree.  I kid you not, these two lemons gave one cup of juice!!  So if you want a really lemony taste you might want to add more lemon juice and rind than just two.

Drop a big spoonful of “bubbles” in your glass, followed by a ton of ice.  Pour over your lemon barley and serve with a straw.  If you used the big tapioca pearls that’ll have to be a fat milkshake-sized straw!  Like the one they have in bubble tea shops.

Enjoy your hot summer if you’re north of the equator!  And if you’re in the south like me, make bubble tea anyway and fantasise about spring…it’ll be here before you know it!
I’ve submitted this post to Simple Lives Thursday, hosted on GNOWFGLINS, why not drop in and check out some of the many gorgeous entries on having a down to earth life?  Ciao!

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6 Responses to homemade lemon barley bubble tea!

  1. Kelyrin says:

    Hello !! I’m sooooooooo happy to read this article ! I absolutely LOVE bubble tea. Bubble Tea is a Taiwanese drink, and I lived in Taiwan for many years, so each time I hear about bubble tea I feel all excited and happy :). I never thought of making my own bubble tea drink, I always thought it was quite complicated… But i’m happy to see that it doesn’t seem as difficult as i thought ! Your drink looks absolutely delicious 😀 ! So refreshing ! THANKS ! 😀

    • Burinsmith says:

      Thanks Kelyrin! Wow, Taiwan…that’s one place I’ve never been. I love it that there’s no end of flavours with bubble tea! What’s your favourite flavour? I love milky tea with black pearls A LOT! 😉

  2. Michelle in Colorado says:

    Wow, this sounds great.

  3. babykins says:

    Oh I never thought of making tapioca drink my own, but it sounds SO much fun to make babble tea/fresh drink! Now I want to go get some tapioca! 🙂

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