You share the gift of telepathy. You tell each other when their shorts are just too short. You have probably hit each other at least once in your life. You have made each other laugh until someone fell out of their chair.
You are sisters, it is what you do.
You also make each other promises. Promises to tell the other when they are dating a jerk or when they should really stop trying to pull off genie pants. You might also promise each other bubble tea.
I think it has been about three years since my sister asked me to acquaint myself with the ways of boba.
She is patient. I am embarrassed.
The truth is, I did not feel any great motivation to approach the endeavor until I grew to love bubble tea myself. Again, I am embarrassed. Embarrassed and selfish. Abby loves me anyway. Sisters do that.
Let's tuck this into the "better late than never" file.
Several weeks ago, I finally threw the supplies for this Instagram obsession into my virtual shopping cart and began googling fiercely. It turns out that bubble tea is not the grand challenge I had anticipated. In fact, it is a fairly simple ordeal, which only increased my own embarrassment at having put it off for so long.
From my research, I learned that the cooking time is dependent on the tapioca at hand. The tapioca I purchased, as well as the one I have linked above, requires a brief five minutes of cook time. The pearls are boiled before being transferred to a bowl of sweet syrup for a quick soak. This gives them a chance to sweeten up a bit, and us a chance to prepare a sweet, icy cold cup of tea.
In a cocktail shaker, we combine ice, sweetened condensed milk, and strongly brewed tea. Ice and bubble tea are less than compatible, so the shaker allows us to get the tea frosty. Shake it up until your freezing fingers just can't take it anymore, then pour the chilled tea over a glass filled with the sweetened pearls.
As I was experimenting, I tried both black and chai teas in this recipe and I loved both versions. The black tea is certainly more traditional, but I also loved the spiciness of the chai. Choose your own adventure!
Just like that, we have homemade bubble tea, or boba, or whatever you want to call it.
Now, grab two straws and call your sister.
Vanilla Chai Bubble Tea
for the tea
- 4 chai or black tea bags
- 2 cups boiling water
Place tea bags in a large measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Steep for ten minutes.
Allow the tea to cool completely while you prepare the syrup and boba.
for the syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium high heat. Stirring often, bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract.
Transfer the syrup to a medium bowl and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the boba.
for the pearls
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 cup black tapioca pearls
Place water in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly pour the tapioca into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 3 minutes.
Drain and pour the cooked pearls into the prepared sugar syrup. Allow to soak for twenty minutes.
Cook's note: While you could store the pearls in the refrigerator for several hours, it is not recommended that you keep them long after cooking because they will become hard and lose their chewy texture.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the pearls from the syrup and divide amongst two glasses.
- 4-6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, depending on how sweet you like it
- 1 cup ice
Combine 1 cup of the brewed tea, 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, and 1/2 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for thirty seconds then pour over the glasses of tapioca. Serve immediately. Enjoy!