What is Boba or Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink usually made of black or green tea, various flavors of milk, and sweetener. I don’t constrain myself to just two kinds of tea; I like to use any kind of tea that tastes great iced since bubble tea is a cold drink. The overall flavor profile of bubble tea is sweet and refreshing, but not so sweet that it covers the taste of the tea.
In our recipe, we’ll be using the Vista Blend, a delicious honeybush tea with apricot & lavender, because it’s so good cold. However, bubble tea is an open invitation to get creative and explore yummy, feel-good combinations.
How To Make Bubble Tea
I steep the tea for 10 minutes when I’m using it for bubble tea to give it a slightly stronger flavor. Use caution when doing this with teas that may become bitter when steeped too long.
Once cooled enough to be safely added to the refrigerator, it’s a good idea to chill the tea so you can use less ice. You’ll want to go light on the ice when making bubble tea; if your drink is super cold, your tapioca pearls may start to harden. For this reason, we don’t see too many blended bubble teas.
While boiling water and steeping my tea, I usually cook the tapioca pearls, then cool them with the tea. The best way to store your cooked tapioca pearls is in some of the simple syrup you made. You want to cover them in syrup and store them in a sealed container at room temperature. I know it seems counterintuitive to store a cooked item at room temperature, but your pearls will get hard in the center if you store them in the refrigerator. Cooked tapioca pearls should be used within four hours.
The Best Sweeteners for Bubble Tea
The best sweetener to use in any bubble tea recipe is simple syrup like that used in cocktails. I prefer rich simple syrup since it takes less to sweeten and adds a nice mouthfeel to a beverage. Like regular simple syrup, rich simple syrup is easy and economical to make, so you can have some on-hand any time. It stores in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Rich Simple Syrup
Rich simple syrup requires only two ingredients: sugar and water. The ratio is 2:1, which is two parts sugar to one part water. To make, simply heat 1 cup of water on the stove (not boiling), then remove from the heat and add 2 cups of white sugar. Let it cool a few hours, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar is dissolved, it’s ready for use. My syrup may look different than yours because I use organic sugar. If you used regular white sugar, yours will be clear. Either kind of sugar is okay and even brown sugar will work if that’s the flavor you prefer.
Simple Fruit Syrups
The other option for sweetening your bubble tea is simple fruit syrups. These are really fun and can help you expand your flavoring options. The sky is the limit!
Strawberry or chocolate milk can add fun flavors, but you don’t have to stick to cow’s milk in bubble tea. Feel free to substitute nut milk, if dairy isn’t your thing. Coconut milk is also a great substitution and works great for adding a tropical flavor.
To enjoy bubble tea with a straw, you’ll need to buy or order some bubble tea straws. These specialty straws are wide to accommodate the large tapioca pearls, which are usually about half an inch in diameter after cooking. While the straws add to the fun, you can certainly drink your bubble tea without a straw, fishing the tapioca pearls out with a spoon.
Vista Blend Bubble Tea
This tea is a perfect blend for your first efforts in learning how to make bubble tea. It tastes equally great with milk, nut milk, and coconut milk to give you a light and refreshing treat. What a great addition to your magical moments with friends and loved ones!
Makes one serving.
- 1 teaspoon Vista Blend herbal tea
- 1 cup of boiling water (for tea)
- Boiling water (for large tapioca pearls)
- 1/4 cup of large tapioca pearls
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of rich simple syrup (to taste)
- Ice (optional)
Place the tea in an infuser and place in a cup.
Pour boiling water over the tea and let steep 10 minutes. Remove the tea leaves.
When the tea cools sufficiently for the fridge, chill the tea in a covered container for at least one hour.
While the tea is chilling in the fridge, cook the large tapioca pearls according to package directions. Following package instructions is important because cooking times and the amount of water required vary widely between brands.
Place cooked, cooled pearls in an amount of rich simple syrup sufficient to completely cover them. Cover your container and let rest at room temperature until your tea is chilled.
Once your tea is chilled, spoon your cooked tapioca pearls into your glass and add your chilled tea.
Add the milk and the simple syrup, stirring lightly to mix. Add ice, if you’re using it, and enjoy!