This recipe delivers a rich and creamy vanilla flavor of taro in super fun to drink boba milk tea is the perfect metaphor for summer in a glass: sweet, refreshing, and you never want it to end.
If you want taro milk tea made from fresh taro roots and purple sweet potatoes, then this recipe if for you. After trying so many different ways to make this drink, I’ve finally figured out the perfect consistency & sweetness level that rivals some of the most popular boba cafes nearby.
Where’s taro milk tea from?
Taro milk tea has been on my list of boba favorites for years (along with jasmine sea cream boba, hot almond milk tea, & iced matcha lattes). It started off with an obsession with taro boba smoothies in the early 2000s, and more recently, fresh taro milk tea from one of my favorite boba shops 7 Leaves Cafe.
The taro milk tea from 7 Leaves Cafe is probably one of the best I’ve ever had because you can actually taste taro. It’s been one of the only places in Orange County that uses fresh taro from my personal experience. After trying many different types of taro milk teas in different tapioca pearl / boba cafes, I started to research how to make taro milk tea at home.
Unfortunately, many cafes (including my girlfriend’s old job) used premade taro mix for taro milk teas. While taro powder is included in the ingredients in these premade taro mixes, they also include many additives and food coloring that I try to avoid.
I’ve also been able to notice the difference in taste between powdered taro and fresh taro milk tea. Whereas powdered taro has a slight metallic and super sweet flavor, fresh taro is lighter and nuttier in flavor and you can taste the jasmine tea.
While powder mix is great if you can’t find any fresh taro around, I would definitely make taro milk tea from scratch if you get a hold of taro roots. This recipe will guide you to refreshing, smooth and rich taro milk tea.
How to pick taro & purple sweet potato
When choosing taro, it’s important to note that this recipe uses LARGE taro roots. I’ve seen them pre-peeled in large vacuum packages in the refrigerated produce section and also unpeeled in the produce display stands. One taro root can range anywhere from 10 inches to larger and are heavy. Inside, taro roots are white with thin purple markings throughout. When choosing a taro root, pick one that is firm throughout without any physical bruising or soft spots.
It’s important not to confuse taro roots with eddoe roots–and I’ve even seen some American grocery stores mislabel these two. Eddoe roots are MUCH smaller (about the size of a lemon) and are very slimy and completely white on the inside. Taro has a sweeter flavor, while eddoe can be slightly more bitter.
I added Okinawan purple sweet potato to this taro milk tea because I wanted a more vibrant purple coloring without using food coloring. I found this purple sweet potato at my local Filipino grocery store, Seafood City, but if you can’t find any you can simply use taro only. You want to follow the same guidelines as taro, firm roots without bruising.
Since taro and purple sweet potato don’t have particularly strong flavor profiles besides sweetness, I went with jasmine green tea leaves for this recipe. The lighter and fruity flavor of jasmine green tea pairs well with the sweet vanilla flavor profile of taro without completely overpowering the roots.
To learn more about tea, visit my post on green tea vs. black tea. For this recipe, I used Sunflower brand jasmine tea leaves that I picked up as 99 Ranch and are also available in other Asian grocery stores.
There were some definite obstacles in trying to get a smooth, flavorful cup of taro milk tea. For instance, I found out that when you cook and blend taro, it turns into a viscous, pasty texture. While this is great for thicker taro milk smoothies, I wanted something with just as much taro flavor but lighter texture.
I tried to thin out the texture using more milk and/or tea, however, it was still too thick–it also diluted too much of the taro flavor. After many trials and errors in creating this recipe, I’ve come up with with a way to get stronger taro flavor without the viscous and pasty texture:
- Brewing the jasmine tea leaves with the taro and purple sweet potato will help infuse the tea with the taro and sweet potato flavors, so you scale the amount of actual roots back to keep the drink from getting too thick.
- Don’t over boil or overcook the taro because it will disintegrate and become pasty when you try to blend it later on.
- Blending too much taro in the tea will give you a super pasty and thick milk tea. I only add about one to two ounces of taro and purple sweet potato per serving.
- Taro itself is a very very very light purple color, so I added purple sweet potato to give it a nice and violet coloring. It also gives a slightly sweeter flavor to the milk tea, but if you can’t find fresh purple sweet potato then you are free to omit because it doesn’t change the drink too much.
- Chill the tea, taro, and purple sweet potato before assembling so you can get a nice and cold milk tea.
What is taro milk tea?
Taro milk tea is typically a boba milk tea that is flavored with taro (whether that is extract or from scratch). Taro has a sweet and vanilla flavor profile similar to sweet potato.
Is taro a fruit or vegetable?
Taro is a root vegetable similar to a sweet potato.
Taro Milk Tea w/ Tapioca Pearls (Boba)
- 4 c water
- 8 oz (226.8 g) taro ½ inch cubes
- 4 oz (113.4 g) Okinawan purple sweet potato ½ inch cubes
- 2 tbsp jasmine tea leaves
- ½ c pre-made or homemade boba optional
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar for boba soaking
- 4 tbsp white sugar
- 3 oz milk
- whipped cream optional
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add water and bring to a boil. Once at boiling, carefully place cubes of taro and purple sweet potato in the water. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for seven minutes.
- Wrap the jasmine leaves in cheesecloth (or a tea infuser) and drop it into the water and continue to simmer for another five minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cheesecloth with the leaves (or strain), and remove the taro and purple sweet potato cubes.
- Transfer the cubes into a bowl and place them in the fridge for one hour to chill.
- Transfer the tea into another container and fridge for one hour to chill.
- Prepare your boba based on your boba packaging, you can use my post on how to cook boba too. Place your cooked boba in a bowl and stir in dark brown sugar thoroughly.
- Add your chilled tea into a blender and blend in the sugar and milk.
- Take two ounces of taro and two ounces of purple sweet potato into the blender. Blend only for about one or two pulses, or until the taro and purple sweet potato have turned into tiny bits (but not completely dissolved).
- Taste test the tea and adjust sweetness or dairy based on your preference. You can also choose to add more taro or purple sweet potato, but I would caution in using too much or your milk tea could end up thickening due to the taro.
- Add boba into glasses and fill them up with ice.
- Divide the milk tea between the iced glasses and top with whipped cream if you prefer. Enjoy!