Basically Bubble tea is a cold, milk tea or fruit tea based drink with tapioca pearls. The pearls can be soaked up through a large straw and their starchy and chewy consistency is fun to gnawn on! Tapioca pearls are the prevailing chewy tidbit in bubble tea, but a wide range of other options can be used to add similar texture to the drink. Each of the ingredients of bubble tea can have many variations depending on the tea house. Typically, different types of black tea, green tea, or even coffee can form the basis of this beverage. The most common black tea varieties are Oolong and Earl Grey. The milk in bubble tea is optional, though many tea houses use it.
The oldest known bubble tea consisted of a mixture of hot Taiwanese black tea, small tapioca pearls, condensed milk, and syrup or honey. According to the contested originator from Taichung, the drink was not popular at first, but after being featured on a Japanese TV show, the concept started to be adopted and popularized by drink vendors throughout Asia. source
The first and only time I had bubble tea was in a Japanese crepes shop in Okinawa. I honestly have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled about this beverage at that time but due to its really easy recipe I will give this chewy fellows one more try. The great thing about bubble tea is that you can try out a large variety of tastes and come up with your very own composition. So here we go, here is what I did following this recipe.
For the bubble tea you need: tapioca pearls (you can find them in any Asian grocery store), black or green tea, sugar, ice and milk or water. Tapioka pearls come in different colors (such as white or brown/black) and sizes. I found the white ones to be more convenient if one wants to add a little food coloring to them.
To look at the recipe read on!
1. Bring the water in a large pot to a boil and add about 3-4 handfuls of tapioca pearls. It is very important for the pearls to have a lot of water so make sure to use a large pot and to cook small portions (pearls/water ratio should be 1:7). The amount of 3-4 handfuls of tapioca pearls will be enough for about 10 servings! It depends on their size but they will approximately need about 30-40 min. In all its forms, tapioca starch is opaque before cooking and becomes translucent when cooked. When finished their consistency should be squashy with a chewy core. If they cook for too long, their consistency will become more like the one of Mochi (Japanese rice cake). Drain the water and rinse them well unter cold water. This step will remove any excess starch and interrupt the cooking process.
2. Heat up water and prepare the syrup with a 1:1 water/sugar ratio. If you want your pearls to be colored you can add some food coloring to the syrup now. Let it cool down and then add the tapioca pearls to the syrup. Make sure all the pearls are covered! Let it rest for some time in the fridge. You can keep the pearls in the fridge for about three days but they taste the best the day they’re made.
3. Make strong tea with little water (concentrate). You can use whatever tea you want although black tea and green tea is the most common choice. Let the strong tea completely cool down (that’s why you should use only a little water). When the tea concentrate is cold add some milk or water, some honey, sugar or syrup as sweetener, crushed ice (if you have) and shake it well in a shaker! If you don’t have a shaker, you can use an empty bottle or a tupperware for example. Pour the shaked tea in a glass and add the tapioca pearls. Add some more ice and enjoy!
Tapioca pearls don’t really taste like something but they give this extra texture to the beverage and the cold tea is always nice. If you happen to come across an Asian grocery store grab a pack of tapioca pearls! They only cost about 2$ and are very easy to prepare. Next time I will let them with their original color. I think the white with the transparent looks very nice! Also I will try something more fruity