Monday, June 26, 2017

Street Food Adventures #03: Bubble Tea [ Taiwan ]

Street Food Adventures Chapter 03
Country : Taiwan
Type: Beverage
Name: Bubble Tea / Boba Tea

Bubble Tea aka Boba Tea is one of Taiwanese staples in street food technically it is a drink. It is so popular that it made its way to a bunch of other countries.  People who have never tried them are missing out on something really special.  The most common type of bubble tea is Milk tea with large tapioca pearls, but the more popular bubble tea gets, the more varieties of flavour combinations pops up. From fruit teas with pearls to slushies with puddin and jelly.

"Boba" is derived from the Chinese word "large breast" which the Taiwanese nicknamed their large size tapioca pearls after, so if you are ordering the tiny pearls, they are NOT boba. Bubble Tea's name on the other hand originates from the bubbles made when shaking the milk tea, so technically if your tea is not a milk tea and shaken to froth up, it is not a bubble tea.  Now you have this knowledge, don't go argue with people when someone calls it boba or bubble tea, it doesn't really matter, what matters is that the drink is oh-so-good. 

We've decided to make this recipe from scratch, just so people with no means of obtaining tapioca pearls can make them at home and give it a try but mostly because I think dry pearls cook really badly, it is easy to undercook or overcook the store-bought pearls which will result in an average beverage and leaving you wondering why your pearls is never as good as the ones your get at the bubble tea shop.  One more additional perk of making it from scratch is knowing what goes into your food :)

Below are a few links that helps us out along the way to explore more of the world and for you guys to have some easy access to recreate what we have tried here :) 

Stainless Steel Boba Straws
Taro Powder
Cocktail Shaker
Dough Scraper

Leave any request in the youtube comments section or hashtag #SFABI on instagram, so we can learn more about your countries Street Food and explore the world together :)

For more info on [Street Food Adventures] Click ME:) 

Infographic Recipe will be updated soon

Bubble Tea 3 Ways
Yields 3 Servings (1 1/2cup of uncooked pearls)

Tapioca pearls:
180g (1 1/2 cups) Tapioca starch
**Edit: You can add up to 1 cup extra tapioca flour if your dough is still too sticky.(Some people are having problems with sticky dough so it might help, some times humidity and the microwave step might lead to a sticky dough)
80g (6 tbsp) Muscovado or dark brown sugar 
120g (1/2 cup) Hot water
60g (1/4 cup) Extra muscovado or dark brown sugar
Extra water, for cooking
Few cups of room temperature drinking water, for rinsing

Earl grey milk tea / black milk tea:
3 Earl grey teabags / Any black tea 
160g (2/3 cup) Hot water
40g (1/6 cup) Half and half
15g (1 tbsp) Simple syrup*

Jasmine milk tea:
3 Jasmine tea bags
160g (2/3 cup) Hot water
40g (1/6 cup) Half and half
15g (1 tbsp) Simple syrup*

Taro milk tea:
1 Green tea bag
80g (1/3 cup) Hot water, for brewing tea
80g (1/3 cup) Hot water
25g (2 tbsp) Taro powder
30g (2 tbsp) Half and half

*Simple syrup:
1:1 Sugar and Water

Simple syrup
1. Combine 1 part water and 1 part sugar in a small sauce pot
2. Heat it on medium and stir until sugar dissolves
3. Let syrup reach a rolling boil and remove from heat
4. Let it cool, refrigerate to store 

Tapioca Pearls
1. Combine hot water and 80g (6 tbsp) sugar in a heatproof/microwave safe bowl
2. Stir and if sugar is not totally dissolved, heat for 20 seconds in the microwave
3. Add in 37g (1/3 cup) of tapioca starch into the sugar solution and stir until no lumps
4. Heat the liquid on a bain-marie/ in the microwave, stirring constantly 
5. It will be ready when it is thick, sticky and translucent, remove from heat
6. Add in the rest of the tapioca starch 1 tbsp at a time and knead until it forms a firm but elastic dough (you may not need to use all depending on the humidity, if it is too dry add a tad of cold water to adjust)
7. Roll dough into logs that can pass through your boba straw
8. Cut the logs into small pillows and shape the pillows into pearls
9. Put it in a slightly “tapioca starch”-coated bowl and tumble it to make it rounder
10. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water (if you are cooking all of the pearls at the same time) to a rolling boil
11. Pour in the pearls into the pot and stir them occasionally to prevent the pearls from sticking to the bottom, you can stop when the pearls start to float
12. When the water returns back to a rolling boil, cover the pot and turn down the heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes
13. Turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes, do not open the lid during this stage
14. Drain the pearls and rinse them with room temp drinking water until it feels warm to the touch/ not hot anymore
15. Combine 60g (1/4 cup) of sugar and cooked pearls in a large bowl and mix it until all coated

Earl grey/ Jasmine
1. Steep the tea bags into the hot water for 4(J)/5(EG) minutes
2. Remove tea bag from tea
3. In a cocktail shaker/mason jar, add ice 3/4 of the way
4. Add the half and half, sugar syrup and brewed tea into the ice
5. Shake the tea until the tea is thoroughly chilled, you can feel it from the shaker
6. In a glass, add 1/3 of pearls into the bottom and add a couple cubes of ices, strain the chilled drink on to it and serve it with a thick straw.

1. Steep the green tea bags into 80g of hot water for 2.5 minutes
2. Remove tea bag from tea
3. Dissolve the taro powder in 80g of hot water
4. In a cocktail shaker/mason jar, add ice 3/4 of the way
5. Add the half and half, brewed tea and taro mixture into the ice
6. Shake the tea until the tea is thoroughly chilled, you can feel it from the shaker
7. In a glass, add 1/3 of pearls into the bottom and add a couple cubes of ices, strain the chilled drink on to it and serve it with a thick straw.

I. Tapioca pearls will go hard if it is refrigerated so it is best to consume on the day it is cooked but you can store uncooked pearls in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Cook it straight out of the freezer, do not defrost
II. If dough is too dry and cracking, add a little room temp water, if too sticky add tapioca starch
III. Every large Boba straws come in a slight variation in size, so make sure to roll it according to your straw size to prevent it from getting stuck
IV. The more you tumble the pearls the rounder it gets, so I usually shape my pearls with a quick pinching motion to round the corners and let the tumbling do it’s work to make it round. It saves a lot of time this way
V. Our cocktail shaker is small so we did the shaking in 2 batches
VI. Simple syrup quantities are just for reference, adjust the sweetness to your liking
VII. If you want real taro in your drink, dice a peeled purple taro root, around the size of the straw, and steam it until a fork sticks through it. Add it in with the pearls in the bottom of the glass
VIII. For the earl grey tea, add pearls, egg pudding and grass jelly to make Gong Chas signature combo

Hope you guys enjoy this weeks [How To's]

See you next week :)

xo D


  1. Hi! Thanks for the recipe. Do you know why my boba is cooking up wrinkly?They were nice and round before going into the boiling water, but flattened out after a few minutes of cooking....

  2. Hi do you think that you can use brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar?

    1. Dark brown sugar just means that there is more molasses in it. You can definitely use regular brown sugar, the consistency may just be the slightest bit dryer and could be a bit sweeter.

  3. Hi I just want to know why my tapioca starch is gooey and super sticky

    1. you might have to add more tapioca starch to your mixture.

  4. Hello,

    I love your video and it seems really simple. However, everything falls apart when I go up to the microwave part. I do it in 10 seconds intervals. I can never roll it out into your shapes as it bounces back into its round shape. When I cut it into little parts, it never turns into a ball. I really need help!! Thanks!!

  5. Can you use corn starch instead of tapyoca starch

    1. No, the balls won’t be chewy if you use cornstarch.

  6. Hello, can i use rice flour to replace tapyoca starch. Because in my area i dont have none. And if yes then do i use normal rice flour or do i use glutinous rice flour?

  7. Hello, so i made some yesterday and when I Put it in the microwave it was still liquid so i kept putting tapioca starch until it became oblik then i kept on trying me make it dry until it became crushed graham cracker so then I couldn't roll it out and I had to pinch it with my hands. Do you know the reason to that?
    Also I didn't know we had to boil the pearls until they float so i undercooked. I don't have the shaker thing so can i still make the drink out of that?

    1. if its still liquid after putting it in the microwave, microwave it again. to boil the pearls until they float, just keep mixing and they'll start. and for the shaker thing, if you have any type of water bottle or good container that won't leak even if you shake it hard, you can use that to shake.

  8. how come in the video, they add more milk then tea but in the ingredents we add more tea then milk

  9. I followed everything except used corn starch and normal brown sugar but when I went to drain the pearls they were almost completely melted and there was barley anything left. what can I do to fix it?

  10. I made the recipe twice, all the steps right and still it went wrong,and on top of that the video doesn't explain very well loss of ingredients, money and time; Disappointed😔

  11. Hello, I couldn't find any tapioca starch from where I live, is there any other substitution for it?

    1. no. u have to use tapioca. if anything glutinous rice flour like mochiko would be closer to the texture in terms of chewiness but it might be chewier(depending on how you do it) than tapioca and tougher. the taste wont be there either. never substituted it before.

  12. How much is one part water and 1 part sugar? 1 tbl spoon each?

  13. Hi ,how much ice and what size is your shaker?