Written By Kayla Hoffman (Features Writer)
Ever wanted to eat something and drink at the exact same time? Do you like the idea of a sweet and savory beverage that can take form in an endless amount of flavors and mixes? A drink that has become particularly popular with people as more and more Asian-cuisine restaurants begin to offer it on their menus is Boba or tapioca pearl tea. Originating in Taiwan, Boba began getting served in the late ‘80s and started gaining lots of traction over the years. Lately, I’ve seen a lot more feed on Boba, especially because more places are beginning to serve it here in America. I’ve even stumbled upon a few locations that specialize in this tea, one being Tea Fermata in downtown Los Gatos and Quickly in downtown Santa Cruz. These drinks are offered in a variety of different flavors, Thai tea being a popular favorite. That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s so popular. No matter what flavor boba you get, there’s always something they all have in common: the little chewy pearls! This drink is very interesting as you’re initially eating and drinking at the same time, but, the sweet and somewhat savory flavored pearls have a chewy fun texture that makes this drink so special.
While Boba can be served with different things like lychee stars and egg pudding, tapioca pearls are the most popular. With Covid infection levels continuously rising and falling, we’re finding ourselves in this odd limbo of going out and staying in. Something that makes this recipe a little difficult is the fact that you can’t buy tapioca starch at any ordinary Safeway or grocery store. While you can find it in Asian markets down in the San Jose area, these ingredients are extremely easy to find on the internet. So, if you like Boba but find yourself feeling a little hesitant to venture out and get it, this recipe can help you.
- Non-stick pan
- Medium-sized pot
- Small saucepan
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Flat service like a cutting board
- Something to stir with.
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- Medium-sized pot
- Tapioca starch
Make sure you have a decent amount (at least 2 to 3 cups worth). You’ll be adding the tapioca starch in ¼ cup intervals during the recipe.
- ¼ cup of water
- Black or any other colored food coloring (optional)
Brown Sugar Syrup:
The brown sugar syrup is there to store the pearls and makes them so they don’t stick together.
- ½ cup of brown sugar
- ½ cup of water
In a nonstick pan, combine your brown sugar, tapioca starch, and water, for the pearls. If you have it, you can also add black food coloring to give it its signature color. Mix all these ingredients on low heat until it combines in a sticky slime texture.
Once it is all together into this sticky dough, in ¼ cup intervals, add more tapioca starch. You will be adding the ¼, stirring, and then once combined, adding another. You won’t need to add any more once it forms a soft dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.
Take your dough, a small bowl, and some more tapioca starch and begin to pinch small amounts from the dough and form tiny balls. You’re adding more of the starch in the bowl to coat the pearls you make. If you want to get really creative, you can shape little cubes or hearts. When it comes to tapioca pearls, you can use different colors and make different shapes, the limits are endless with what you can form. Personally, I have seen people make tiny strawberry-shaped pearls, so the limits are endless! If you do want to make something that will require sticking together different parts of the dough, use water applied with a clean small brush (the one you’d probably use for painting, but please make sure it’s not used or super cleaned) to get the different parts stuck together. Be sure to make them a little smaller than the size you want because the pearls do expand while cooking. Once the bowl is filled gently shake the bowl to assist the pearls to roll around in the extra starch.
To cook the pearls, boil water in a medium-sized pot for 25 minutes stirring regularly so then none of them stick to each other. Remove the pot from heat and allow them to sit in the hot water for an additional 25 minutes. After the pearls have been sitting in the water for the needed time, drain them from the water and rinse in cold water.
To make the syrup that you can store the boba in and serve it with, take ½ cup of brown sugar and a ½ cup of water in a small saucepan. Mix slowly on low heat until the sugar completely dissolves. This is the syrup you store your boba in to give it the super sweet signature flavor! Now, all you have to do is create the drink that you’d serve it in. This could range anywhere from milk teas to coffee drinks. Either way, this drink is yours to customize with all the different ideas! Enjoy!