There’s some contention about who exactly came up with boba (or bubble) tea, but whoever it was is one of my tea heroes. What we do know is that this delish drink originated and became popular in Taiwan in the 1990s and has evolved to tons more flavours and steadily increasing popularity ever since.
I first tried boba tea when I was in college. Some friends roped me in to visiting the Galleria for the several-years-since-closed little kiosk called KoKo Bubble Tea. I’m pretty sure I first tried lychee flavored one with the fruit jellies inside, but the next time I visited I tried the tapioca tea, and the whole experience was really exciting–cutesy images, colorful oversized straws, the chewy tapioca (made from yucca, btw), and the yummy tea. Somehow or another I stumbled upon taro flavour milk tea (both hot and cold), and that’s by far my favourite now (with boba, of course). The flavour is so unique, and the color is really lovely: anywhere from lavender to greyish-purple, depending on how it is made. Even though they’re called teas, bubble teas don’t always contain tea, and you can make taro “tea” with just taro and milk.
It was actually relatively recently that I discovered that my beloved yautia lila is actually the very same taro I so enjoy in tea form.
We have several places to get boba tea around Birmingham now, but I’ve only tried from Mr. Chen’s and Saigon Noodle House (on 280). They use powders, so the taste is always consistent, but one day I hope to make some using fresh yautia, since it’s actually pretty easy to find at Mi Pueblo Supermarket. For now, though, I’m content to use powder, too.
While we have plenty of stores that I should have checked first, I bought my powder and tapioca pearls from Amazon this time. I still have a lot of playing around to do, but here’s how I tested it out today:
Make Your Own at Home!
Taro Milk Tea with Boba for Two
1 cup dried tapioca pearls, prepared according to packaging (and sweetened with honey if you like)
1-2 bags brewed black tea, to desired strength (and sweetened while hot, if you so desire)
8 oz water
8 oz milk of your choice (I used almond milk)
4 tablespoons taro powder
1-2 tablespoons sugar, optional
1 cup ice
Put sweetened (if you wish) tapioca in serving glass and set aside. Then place ice in blender or cocktail shaker. Add taro powder. Pour in milk and brewed tea. Blend or shake until cold. Pour over the tapioca pearls. Taste to make sure it’s all you ever wanted. Serve with a big ‘ole straw to drink the tea and tapioca together, or use a spoon to eat the tapioca later and enjoy!
Are you a boba tea fan? If so, what’s your fave flavour?