Oh, delicious bubble tea. I could subsist on those sweet, chewy tapioca pearls. This is a problem because the only place that serves it on my side of town has recently decided to use old boba in their tea. Fresh boba is chewy, soft and lightly sweet. Expired boba is rock-hard and nearly unchewable. Clearly, I had to take matters into my own hands (either that or drive 30 minutes across town for good boba tea- and that’s not likely when you’re a weekday hermit like I am).
Had I known all the benefits of making this tea myself, I’d have been doing it all along – it’s too easy! You can find the boba I used for this recipe here. Rainbow boba. Rain-boba? Anyway, isn’t it pretty? I use the quick-cooking boba. It’s so convenient!
For those unfamiliar with boba tea, or Bubble tea, it is a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. Since then it has gained wild popularity the world over. Reportedly, it arrived in the states when Taiwanese immigrants opened the first bubble tea shop in Los Angeles, called Fantasia Coffee & Tea. What a wonderful gift they brought to us! The rest is history (and many, many glasses enjoyed).
The tapioca pearls don’t have much flavor on their own, that’s why they need to stand for a little while in simple syrup. I’ve been using a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the simple syrup, and this gives the boba a delicious flavor.
When you’re ready to make the tea, place as much boba as you like in the bottom of a glass (this is where I think more is more, but decide for yourself). Add crushed ice on top.
Pour brewed black tea in about halfway up the glass. Here I’m using 16 ounce glasses.
Finish the glass with mango nectar and 2 tablespoons of cream.
Recently I’ve been adding a scoop of fruit sorbet on top when I have it in the freezer. It adds a sweet note and makes the tea even more frosty and dessert-like!
I keep a supply of bubble tea straws. They’re extra wide so the boba can be sipped, but if you’re not into the straws the tea may be served with spoons.
Mango Boba “Bubble” Tea
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- 10 cups water
- 1 cup dried boba tapioca pearls quick cooking (5 minute type)
- Crushed ice
- 1 1/2 cups brewed black tea
- 1 1/2 cups mango nectar I like Jumex
- 1/4 cup light cream half and half
- Make the simple syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. If granules remain, heat at full power in 1 minute intervals thereafter until the sugar is melted. Add vanilla extract if using. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to cool. If you don’t have a microwave, the simple syrup can be made in a saucepan on the stove top.
- Cook the Boba: Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the boba and cook for 7 minutes, stirring gently until the pearls float to the surface of the water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source and let it stand for 5 minutes. Drain the boba with a colander, and rinse them in cool water for 20 seconds. Remove the simple syrup from the refrigerator and transfer the boba to the simple syrup. Let stand until completely cool, about 1 hour.
- Make bubble tea: Put as little or as much boba as you like in the bottoms of two 16-ounce glasses. Add a handful of crushed ice to each glass. Pour tea over the crushed ice until it reaches halfway up the glass (you may have a little leftover tea – it depends on how much ice you use). Top with mango nectar and two tablespoons each light cream. Serve immediately with bubble tea straws or with spoons.
Boba pearls are best fresh. Leftover boba should be tossed at the end of the day.
Use some of the simple syrup to sweeten the tea to taste.
Use sweetened condensed milk or a non-dairy milk such as almond or rice milk in place of the light cream.
The cream may be omitted completely, if you prefer.
Any fruit nectar may be used in place of the mango nectar.
Use your favorite tea in place of black tea. I’ve used peach rooibos and hibiscus tea – no rules!
Finish the glass with a scoop of mango sorbet -my fave!