Bubble tea at home
Avoid non-instant pearls at all costs 🧋
I love bubble tea. Sometimes I buy some, sometimes I make it myself. If you want to make bubble tea at home, I recommend not falling for the trap that are “non-instant” pearls. Yes, they are tempting. Yes, they look genuine. But they are so annoying to cook! I spent 3 hours boiling non-instant pearls once and they never transitioned from raw to cooked. Imagine chewing on a pearl and instead of sugary chewiness, you get a powdery puff of uncooked tapioca flour on your tongue. Use instant pearls1 instead. Also, use some good quality black tea such as Mauritian vanilla black tea2, the best in the world.
Note that another option would be to go full-out homemade and make the pearls yourself with tapioca flour and sugar. I never tried, but I might save that for another blog post.
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Classic bubble tea
2/3 cup of instant tapioca pearls
1 1/2 tbsp of loose black tea
2 tbsp of brown sugar
6 cups of water
1 cup of milk
Brew the black tea in 3/4 cup of boiled water for 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls and cook for 5 minutes or according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, bring the remaining 1/4 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and let simmer over low-medium heat for 3 minutes, or while the pearls finish cooking.
Once the pearls are cooked, strain them and add them to the syrup. Simmer over low-medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Split the pearl and syrup mixture in 2 highball glasses. Fill with ice. Pour 1/2 cup of milk in each glass. Top with the black tea. Chug!
I use a brand called WuFuYuan, but surely you can find some local hipster brand somewhere.
Vanilla black tea is very popular in Mauritius. It is difficult to find overseas, but maybe you can befriend someone from Mauritius or someone who has a friend from Mauritius. Expat Mauritians always come back with suitcases filled with tea. You can also find some online, but they are priced scandalously high.