Boba tea, or “bubble tea,” is a Taiwanese sensational beverage that originated in hot and steamy Taichung, Taiwan tea shops during the 1980s. My friend Grace recently took me on a trip to our local Chinatown to get the ingredients and explain to me how to make this fun drink. I had no idea it was SO EASY!:)
The essential ingredient in boba tea (which doesn’t even necessarily need actual tea!) is tapioca (粉圓 fenyuan), which is processed into chewy balls that are often called “pearls.” Did you know tapioca comes from the cassava (aka yuca!?) root? The tapioca balls are larger than those in traditional tapioca pudding, but small enough to be slurped up through special, wide straws. In the Asian supermarket we visited, there was an entire aisle of different tapioca products- why had I never seen them before!? While you’re in the store, ask for the wide straws for “boba tea,” so your tapioca can be enjoyed with the drink.
The base of the drink varies tremendously. Grace explained that little kids will normally have their tapioca peals in juices, so we made some passion fruit juice. Other popular flavors include strawberry, mango, lychee, pineapple, peach, or grape juices (among many others!). Adults will drink boba teas made of black or green iced tea, with milk (regular milk or sweetened condensed milk), and some sugar or honey. It is now popular around the world, spreading from Taiwan to other East Asian countries, and then to the US and Europe and beyond.
1) Boil tapioca. The tapioca is each processed differently, so some will need to be boiled for longer (check the directions). Ours boiled for only 5 minutes.
2) Drain the water and sprinkle sugar over the tapioca pearls. They can “marinate” while you are making your juice.
3) Make your juice, tea, or frozen smoothie. Add a couple of tablespoons of the tapioca into your drink.
4) Use your special straw to enjoy!
Send me a picture of yourselves enjoying this new summer drink!:)