Got any boba lovers out there? Got any confused people out there? You know those drinks you see with weird black bubbles in the bottom? That is called boba! Or bubble tea.
It sounds like such a strange thing - a tea with balls of tapioca (yes, they're made out of tapioca!) at the bottom that you slurp up through over-sized straws. Oh, but it's just so yummy.
But you know, those milk teas that they're traditionally served in are not vegan. Plus they have a rather high calorie count and tons of sugar. So I'm showing you how to make your own boba at home. You can avoid those nasty sugar-, calorie-, and dairy-loaded powdered milks they use at tea houses, save your money, and have healthy vegan boba at home!
The key of course is getting your tapioca pearls. I buy them at Asian markets (see my Asian Market Guide post!) or online. There are actually a lot websites where you can buy boba online, like tenrenteatime.com or bobateasupply.com. I buy from Boba Tea Supply through Amazon. You can also buy the straws - love that! Free shipping too. Fantastic. Note for boba newbies: you definitely want the special straws. It's just not the same if you have to spoon out your boba. You need these giant made-for-boba straws (they're great for thick smoothies too!)
Once you have your boba, the hard part's over!
Boba is best if you just make what you plan on drinking now. But you can also prepare some ahead of time so it's ready to go whenever you want it. I'll tell you how to do both!
1/3 C tapioca pearls
as much brewed tea as you want
sweetener of choice (see more below!)
splash of creamy element of your choice (see more below on this one too!)
to prepare ahead of time:
1 1/3 C tapioca pearls
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C water
(you'll add the other components at the time you assemble your drink)
[picture: uncooked boba - up close and personal!]
Tapioca pearls: boil water for the tapioca pearls. You want enough water for them to move around, like you're making pasta. You'll bring the water to a boil, add your tapioca pearls. When they rise to the top of the water, cover with a lid and allow to cook for 5 minutes. If you're making some to save for later, cook 15 minutes - and stir a few times while they're boiling.
Sweetener: make a simple syrup to sweeten the boba. This is a great place to play around with natural sweeteners and low-sweeteners. One of the most common ways I found when I started making these and looked up about a billion recipes online is equal parts brown sugar and water in a small saucepan to make a simple syrup. You only need about 2 T each for a single serving. See recipe above for leftovers. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Turn heat off and allow to cool. When the boba are done, you drain them and pour the simple syrup over them and allow it to soak in while the boba cool, about 15 minutes.
For a single-serving: I've played around with different and healthier sweetener options. I haven't yet tried for a big batch. You can keep the same amount of water and use less sugar for a lightly sweetened option. You can also sub brown rice syrup for the brown sugar for a more natural sweetener. My favorite alternative is to use a natural sweetener - I boil and drain the boba, then pour a little agave or maple syrup over the boba pearls in the glass I plan to drink out of and let them sit while they cool for about 10-15 minutes.
Tea: you can use any kind of tea you want. My favorites are plain green tea or mango teas. But you can use absolutely anything! Matcha is also a great thing to use here. Just prepare your tea, let it cool while your boba are cooling.
Put boba in a glass, add tea and a splash of soy milk or creamer if you want it to be milky like store-bought boba. Or coconut milk! [The first picture on this page shows: matcha tea with a splash of soy milk, mango tea with a splash of creamer, black tea with a heavy pour of coconut milk! Yum!]
For your make-ahead batch: Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated. To make a glass, stir up the boba, scoop however much you want into the bottom of a microwavable glass. Microwave 30 seconds on high, add your tea, and drink up! I don't recommend keeping a batch around for more than a few days.
Nutrition facts for 1/3 C boba (varies depending on brand): Calories: 110; Calories from Fat: 0; Total Fat: 0g; Sodium: 60mg; Total Carbohydrate: 27g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 0g; Protein: 0g