Bubble tea originated in the 1980s in the cities of Tainan and Taichung located in Central Taiwan, Asia. Popular by a range of different names, the tea-based drink is also commonly sold under the name of Pearl Milk tea, Bubble Milk tea, and Boba. Historically, the drink is credited to the name of Tu Tsong he, a traditional tea house owner in Tainan’s Ya Mu Liao market of 1986.
The tea-based variant was popularized during the 1990s when it spread throughout various parts of East and Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam. With the onslaught of industrialization and immigration, the drink spread and quickly gained momentum, most notably in regions of North America with high concentrations of Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants. In the modernized world, bubble tea has been molded to become consumer based in order to satiate international demand. Often, this leads to a product called bubble tea that is very different from the original.
Typically, Bubble Tea contains a variant of tea, flavoured milk, optional addition of sugar and an array of toppings. These toppings range from chewy tapioca balls, popping Boba, a variety of jelly including agar, fruit, and grass as well as a mixture of puddings amongst others. Two internationally favourite flavours are Black Pearl Milk tea and Green Pearl Milk tea.
I will now be outlining a step by step, easy to follow method to make your very own Bubble Tea!
The following measurements make one glass of Bubble Tea:
- ¼ cup dried Boba tapioca pearls
- 1 or two tea bags (flavor of choice)
- A ½ cup of water
- A ½ cup of sugar
- Choice of milk, almond milk or sweetened condensed milk
- Option of fruit juice or nectar (flavor of choice)
- Measuring Cups
- Glass (for serving)
Mix Boba with water
Bring two cups of water to boil over high heat in a saucepan. Once boiling adds the Boba pearls and stir until they float on the surface of the water.
Cooking the Boba pearls
Switching the heat to a medium setting, cook Boba in the saucepan for a duration of 12 to 15 minutes. Then, whilst keeping the saucepan covered remove it from the heat and allow the Boba pearls to sit in the water for another 12 to 15 minutes.
Preparing the Sugar Syrup
Within the same time that the Boba is cooking in the saucepan, you can move onto preparing your sugar syrup. Take ½ a cup of water and bring it to a boil wither using the microwave or over high heat in a saucepan. One boiling removes it from the heat and stir in ½ a cup of sugar until it is thoroughly dissolved. Leave this mixture to cool, and it will later be used to sweeten and preserve the Boba pearls.
Brew a cup of strong tea
Take a cup of water and bring it to a full boil, adding the desired number and flavor of tea bags once this stage has been reached. Leave the teabags in for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring to draw out the full potential of the flavor. The prepared tea should then be put in the refrigerator to chill.
Store Boba until ready
After the Boba has been completely cooked, they should be strained of any water and put aside in a bowl or dish for temporary storage purposes. Whilst being stored, the Boba pearls should be completely submerged in the already prepared sugar syrup, in order to maintain their preservation level. The container should be left to rest for 15 minutes in room temperature before being put away in the refrigerator to chill. For best results, the pearls should be consumed within a couple of hours of them being prepared. They will, however, remain eatable for days, becoming harder and crunchier as the time passes.
Make the Bubble Tea
With all the components prepared, it is now time to assemble the Bubble tea itself. The cold, strong tea brew should be poured into a glass and Boba pearls should be added to the mixture. Depending on the desired type of tea, milk or fruit juice can be added for flavour and sweetness purposes. Or, if you prefer to enjoy your Boba tea without any additions, you can use the preservation purpose of sugar syrup to sweeten it up a bit.
And with that, your Bubble Tea is complete. Sit back, relax, sip and enjoy!
Bubble Tea Variations
Bubble tea comes in a number of different forms, some of which are explored below:
- Pearl milk tea
- Black pearl milk tea
- Foam red tea (includes foamy air bubbles)
- Foam milk tea (like foam red tea, but with the addition of chosen milk)
Moreover, the type of tea used in bubble tea also varies, with varieties such as black tea, green tea (often infused with the flavour of choice), oolong tea and white tea, to name but a few.
Lastly, the type of milk or milk alternative used also varies. This range covers ingredients such as non-dairy creamers, fresh milk, condensed milk, coconut milk, ice cream, soy milk, Lactaid and Calpis.
An international Boba Tea crisis emerged in 2011 when DEHP, a substance used in the manufacture of plastic, was found in fruit drinks, juices, and syrups. These ingredients have long since been linked to the making of Bubble tea and hence, are potentially dangerous due to their many side effects, including hormone imbalance. It was due to this outbreak that many brands of juices and syrups were banned from production, use, and consumption. In 2012 specifically, the production, sales, and usage of a product called ‘Strawberry Syrup’ was banned by the Malaysian government as it was found to be laced with DEHP.
The case of Bubble tea and its resulting health effects has garnered much attention over the years. In 2012 university students from Germany carried out a research wherein they tested for the presence of allergic substances in the tea’s mixture. Extensive testing and experimentation revealed the presence of styrene, acetophenone and brominated substances, all of which have great deteriorative effects on a person’s health. On the plus side, however, it was confirmed that Bubble tea is free of all cancer-causing additives, substances, and mixes.
Keeping all this in consideration, making your Bubble tea is a much safer and healthier alternative. This is because you can ensure the cleanliness of the process and the purity of the ingredients being used. What is more, it also allows you to combine the healthiest and safest version of each separate ingredient, thereby making the process much more thorough in it. With our easy to follow, step by step process making yourself a cup of chilled, refreshing (and healthy) Bubble tea is a breeze!
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