Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bubble Tea (Boba)

Probably the most famous invention of Taiwan (food-wise) is boba milk tea! Or bubble milk tea. Or pearl milk tea. Whatever you call it, it is delicious, and cheap and common... in Taiwan, anyway :P

In USA it is not so common, and not so cheap. Especially if you live in MN. I heard vicious rumors from my Californian roommates that California had bubble tea for around $2. WHAT IS THIS???

I digress. Today I am showing you how to make boba at home! Yay! Much cheaper and easier for those of you who cannot just go to the nearest beverage shop and buy one for less than US$1

Boba is super easy to make at home! So now I will show you how to do it (saves you a lot of money, too)

First, buy some dried tapioca balls from your local oriental food store. Get the big, dark ones meant for bubble tea! The small, white or multi-color ones are meant for the coconut-y tapioca Thai dessert.

It should look like this:

Also get some milk tea powder if you're lazy. You can actually brew some tea and add some hot milk or something, but I never do that :P I'm very lazy! (gets hit)


My milk tea powder comes in brewable tea bags. Reusable, brewable tea bags (though the flavor becomes less with each brewing). I win!

Ahem, anyway, if you need some super specific measures, I Googled and found a bunch of strange directions involving soaking your bubbles (1:8) in cold water for like 3 hours before cooking it for more hours and that just seems like a waste of time to me. Also, I don't want to stand over a boiling pot of water for an hour waiting for the bubbles to go dark. BORING!

The way my mom taught me to make it is simple and involves no measuring, but I'll give you the measures given on the back of my boba package.

1) Boil Some Water
Boil enough water to cover your bobas. Don't add your boba yet because it will become one big, sticky mess. I speak from experience :( My boba package says 2000cc of water to 200g of boba

2) Add your Boba
When your water is at a rolling boil, add your boba! Stir constantly to prevent them from sticking together. You only need to do this for a couple minutes, then the hot water flash cooks the outside of the bobas so they know that they are an individual pearl and should not form enormous amoeba-like masses

3) Transfer to Steamer
When all the boba have gone dark and look like they've soaked up lots of water (only takes a few minutes), pour them into a steamable container. There should be enough water to just cover all the bubbles. Add a generous amount of water to the outside of the steamer. My boba package says 2c of water for the 2000cc and 200g of water and boba. Turn the steamer on and let it cook! You can walk away and do stuff now. So much better than standing over a boiling pot! It should take about an hour to cook. The bubbles will be semi-transparent and soft

4) Rinse
When your boba is done, take it out and rinse them all under cold water. Stir it around with a spoon to cool off all the boba. Then use your hands to wash them all when they are cool enough to touch. Actually, it just feels really cool. You can just use a spoon if you want. But once you try it with your hands, you will know why I like to wash boba so much!

5) DONE!
You can now add the boba to milk tea or sugar water or eat it plain! Some people say you should store the boba by covering it with a syrup. I never did that because I think it is a waste of time and extra calories. Also because I never actually heard of people doing that until I Googled it just now :P Sometimes my mom would put a little bit of brown sugar water concentrate in with the boba when we refrigerated it to prevent the bubbles from sticking together. They will get hard in the fridge and may form a giant clump, so the sugar water concentrate is a good anti-sticky sauce without interfering with the flavor of the boba. When the weather is cool though, we just kept it covered on the counter where it will keep its wonderful QQ texture longer. When taking boba out of the fridge, steam it in your tea or brown sugar water to restore the texture

Have fun!