What is Boba Tea?
Boba tea, also referred to as “bubble tea” or “pearl milk tea”, is a unique beverage originating in Taiwan sometime in the late 1980s. The drink itself comprises a sweetened (and usually milk infused) loose leaf tea (originally black tea), served with tapioca or jelly (boba) and an extra-wide straw. The tapioca balls are chewy and soft, giving the beverage a fun texture! Other variations of “bubbles” exist on the market today, including a variety of fruit jellies which are the perfect option for smoothies or fruity tea mixes.
Popularity and Relevance
Although it originates in Taiwan, (where it is a wildly popular beverage to this day) boba tea has reached the farthest corners of the world, making a huge impact in many countries across the globe.
Southeast Asia alone saw a 3,000% increase in bubble tea sales in 2018! Since then, variations in flavor and texture have been introduced, making the drink increasingly more popular. Since bubble tea originally includes milk tea, the taste and texture was not a hit with every nationality and culture. Now, bubble teas range from fruity and syrupy sweet to creamy and bold and the selection of chewy “bubbles” and toppings you have to choose from seems endless!
Which Teas Are Best to Use When Making Boba Tea?
Although bubble tea is now made with a variety of loose leaf teas, the original recipe called for black tea leaves. This is because of the strong, smooth flavor that black tea has. Similarly, green tea varieties, such as jasmine, is also a good choice because of its bold, complex flavor.
Since bubble tea has a lot of ice cubes, sweeteners, tapioca and milk added to create the iconic beverage we know and love, the original flavor of the tea leaves gets somewhat lost in the mixture. Using good quality tea is still the heart and soul of this drink and skimping on the quality of the leaves will reflect the overall excellence of the finished product.
Ingredients Needed for Homemade Boba Tea
Contrary to popular belief, bubble tea is actually easy enough to make at home! This depends on what kind of bubble tea you want to make, of course. Traditional milk tea is usually made with whole milk or evaporated milk, depending on the desired consistency and depth of flavor required.
Traditional bubble tea is also made with (you guessed it) real tea leaves! This may prove to be difficult to find and requires additional research. Fruit teas, however, are not usually made with real tea and opts for syrups, real fruit and/or fruit flavors instead. Fruit teas are usually easier to make at home, too!
So, when making homemade boba tea, consider the following ingredients to stock up on before starting:
- Real tea leaves
- Ice cubes
- Liquid sweetener (can be honey or sugar syrup)
- Milk (can be whole milk, a dairy-free option or evaporated milk)
- Tapioca balls (or fruit jellies of your choice)
- Fruit (and fruit syrups)
With a little research, you can find the flavor and texture that you think will satisfy your taste buds. The best part? With all of the great online recipe variations, you can experiment to your heart’s content!