Bubble Tea Take Two: Homemade

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.

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Ingredients:

3 tablespoons pearl tapioca

Simple syrup to taste

3 rounded teaspoons of your choice of tea

½ cup milk

Ice cubes

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.

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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.

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Directions:

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.

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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.

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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.

Blue Lady Infused Cupcakes

When I went home for Easter Break, I was feeling the need to bake something, which means I was probably stressed because I bake when I’m stressed.

Teetering on a chair, I rummaged through some of my mom’s cookbooks above the microwave and I finally found an ancient Betty Crocker cookbook. Some of the pages were matted with caked on flour, especially the pancake pages. I found a simple white cake recipe and a brown sugar-based icing. A perfect blank canvas to start with.

 

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From left to right: Green tea with green rooibos, Blue Lady, and Fruits of the Forest

I brought home several spring teas I wrote about in The Hawk and I wanted to incorporate them into the cupcakes. A quick way to freshen up a cupcake or cake recipe is to infuse it with tea, and thankfully it only requires an extra step.

For tea I used one of my favorites of the bunch, Blue Lady, an herbal-black tea with an aroma of grapefruit, from The House of Tea. Because it is a black tea, and on the stronger side (a few of them were light green and herbal teas) I figured the flavor would successfully translate into the cupcakes.

Infused tea

 

Infusing is very simple: steep the tea in butter required for the recipe. My recipe called for about a half cup of butter but I ended up using closer to a cup. Usually one teaspoon of tea yields eight ounces of water for a cup of tea but for this recipe I used a couple teaspoons of tea.

In a pot I melted the butter on medium heat (make sure not to burn the butter) and then added about two teaspoons of tea. I let it steep for about five minutes, constantly stirring. I then strained the butter and poured it into the batter.

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The finished cupcakes were light and airy with hints of grapefruit and citrus that complimented the rich icing. So I baked a couple dozen, just enough to forget about the homework load I had…let’s just say I neglected to do any homework but I did make some fabulous treats with tea.

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