The Lunar New Year is upon us and what better way to celebrate than with some bubbles?
And by bubbles, we mean bubble tea of course! Originally just a frothy beverage created in the 1980s and enjoyed by Taiwanese children after school, this tasty refreshment has now become a global sensation.
For those of us not familiar with this deliciously different way of enjoying tea, bubble tea (also known as pearl tea, or boba tea), is a (usually) fruit flavoured green or black tea that is normally served cold with small, chewy tapioca balls that swirl around the bottom of the drink.
Bubble tea can also be served as a milky variant otherwise referred to as milk tea, or with flavours like chocolate and taro, it’s like drinking a milkshake.
The following recipe was sourced from ‘the kitchn’ and demonstrates how easy it can be to create this drink at home. We’ve also listed a number of Tea Centre flavour favourites that would be ideal for turning into bubble tea.
How to Make Bubble Tea
- 1/4 cup dried tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking pearls) — Can be found in most Asian supermarkets
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
- Fruit juice or nectar (optional)
- 1-2 tea bags or 2-4 grams of loose leaf Assam Dimakusi for milk tea
- Use the same quantities of one of our flavoured tea suggestions (see bottom of page) for a flavoured bubble tea without milk. Milk can be added if desired, but only suitable for black teas. Alternatively, you can also use an Assam tea and enjoy it plain, or add some fruit juice.
Saucepan Bowl for holding the cooked pearls
- Cook the Pearls:
Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of pearls being prepared into a saucepan.
Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
Add the pearls and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.
Turn the heat to medium and cook the pearls for 12-15 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12-15 minutes.
- Prepare Sugar Syrup for the Pearls: While the pearls are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare a Strong Cup of Tea: This can be done either while the pearls are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the bubble tea. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag or tea sock containing your loose leaf tea. Use one tea bag (2 grams of loose leaf) for regular-strength bubble tea or two tea bags (4 grams of loose leaf) for a stronger tea flavour. Remove the tea bag/tea sock after 15 minutes and chill the tea.
- Finish the Pearls: Once the pearls have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the pearls are submerged. Let sit until the pearls are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. The pearls are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The pearls will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
- Make the Bubble Tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the pearls. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. You can add fruit juice to Assam Tea to enjoy something different. Sweeten to taste with the syrup from soaking the pearls. Don’t forget an extra wide straw to enjoy the pearls!
- Very Chilled Bubble Tea: For an extra-chilly bubble tea, combine all the tea, milk, and/or juice, but not the pearls in a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add the pearls.
- Shortcut Bubbles: If you want immediate gratification, just cook your pearls until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and use them as soon as they’re cool. They don’t keep for very long (turning rock hard in a few hours), but are delicious if eaten right away.
- Saving Leftover Pearls and Making Them for Later: Pearls are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated in their simple sugar syrup for several days. The pearls will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
Black and green tea blends with sweet fruity or floral flavours will make the best tasting bubble teas. The following suggestions are some blends that would be exceptionally nice as a chilled bubble tea.
Lychee Black Tea, Mango and Apricot Black Tea, Peach Black Tea, Rose Black Tea, Stockholm Black Tea, French Earl Grey Black Tea, Japanese Garden Green Tea, Morning Flower Green Tea, Pacific Sun Green Tea, Peach Green Tea, 1001 Nights (a combination of black and green tea) or Sydney Special (a combination of black and green tea)