I wasn’t crazy about the bubble tea I had when I was out, but I didn’t want that to turn me off to bubble tea. I love experimenting with tea, have plenty of it, and I bought the tapioca pearls anyway so one afternoon earlier this week I took on the challenge.
The recipe I used is adapted from Rick Rogers’ Tea and Cookies. It was a Christmas gift from my aunt and I browse through it from time to time looking for some inspiration and this time I found his bubble tea recipe, though I tweaked a few things here and there.
3 tablespoons pearl tapioca
Simple syrup to taste
3 rounded teaspoons of your choice of tea
½ cup milk
I’m still obsessed with the same spring teas I wrote about for my school newspaper earlier this semester so I decided to use two teas from House of Tea. The first is an herbal tea, Fruits of the Forest, and the second is a green tea with green rooibos and ginger.
The tapioca pearls were hard and starchy. They reminded me of little balls of chalk- quite a contrast to how squishy and sweet they were when I was slurping them through a giant straw in Chinatown.
First, boil 1 ½ cups of water and then add the tapioca pearls. Let them simmer for about 30 minutes or until the pearls are tender and squishy.
While the pearls were simmering, put a second pot of water on for the tea. When that boils take it off the heat for a minute and then add it to a measuring cup with the tea to steep and cool. I used two different teas, so I used two different measuring cups.
In a third pot prepare a simple syrup (1 cup of sugar stirred into 1 cup of boiling water). Once the sugar dissolves place it aside to cool.
When the pearls were tender, them cool for about 15 minutes, strain them, and rinse them with cold water. Then, put them into a small bowl and pour enough simple syrup over them to be covered.
I didn’t have a shaker to combine the milk and simple syrup with the tea but I had two different sized cups and I filled the larger one with milk, some ice cubes, and the tea. Because I used two teas I added ¼ cup of milk both times.
I pushed the smaller cup inside, held both together and shook it over the sink until the ice melted and the mixture was foamy. I scooped the tapioca pearls into each of the glasses and poured the tea mixture over them. Don’t forget the big straws to slurp up the bubbles! I saved and washed the straws from my Chinatown outing, but they are available at an Asian grocery store, like the one I went to.
This process takes a little over an hour to set up, prepare the pearls and wait for the tea to cool, but I found some things that can be cut to shorten the preparation time. The recipe called for a beverage syrup (like a simple syrup but fruity) but I did not use it, instead I used some of the simple syrup, which could also be cut in half (I had extra, but I also never add sugar to my tea).
The green tea was sweet at first but had a strong ginger aftertaste. I’ve had this tea iced before and enjoyed it plain but the milk added a subtle creaminess even though I used skim milk instead of whole milk. The herbal tea was very sweet and fruity with a prominent strawberry aftertaste.
Using ingredients I already had (water, tea, milk, sugar), saving the straws, and buying 16oz of tapioca pearls for $1.38 it was much more cost efficient to make bubble tea at home, though I’m not giving up on Chinatown just yet.