Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's Bubble Tea Time

Now that the weather is warmer, my afternoon drink of choice is bubble tea.  For the uninitiated, it is an asian drink that incorporates cold tea, fruit flavor, tapioca pearls and simple syrup or honey.  It is a bizarre but refreshing drink.
Here is a sample of Diane's green bubble tea.
It took me a while to figure out how to make this drink.  I first tasted it when I visited Superior Pho in Cleveland.  Mike and I went to get a bowl of pho (which is a Vietnamese noodle soup).  I noticed that there was bubble tea on the menu and I decided to try some.   After sipping this delectable drink I was  hooked.

Now every time I go to an asian restaurant, I have to try their version of bubble tea.  I went with my sister to TreeCountryBistro on Coventry in Cleveland Heights and sampled their green bubble tea.  It fueled my interest in making my own at home.

Mike went on a food trip to CAM Asia Market and came back with tapioca pearls for my bubble tea.  I was so excited.  I wanted to make it that afternoon.  Unfortunately, the bag had instructions in Mandarin.  I looked online using the Google search and came up with multiple instructions (here's two examples: A and B).  I tried boiling the large white pearls that I had for fifteen minutes.  They were still white after boiling so I let them sit in the hot water for another fifteen minutes.  The end result was soft clear exterior with a hard white interior.  The pot also had a lot of tapioca residue from pearls that were crumbling.  I was not encouraged.

I started out steeping my own green tea for the bubble tea.  I also chose coconut milk for fruit flavor.  Likewise, I made simple syrup (boil one cup of water, add one cup of granulated sugar and mix until dissolved) for the sweetener.

I found out that chilling the tea before adding it to ice in the blender enhanced the texture of the drink.  I also decided that I like the full flavor of regular coconut milk as opposed to lite coconut milk.  Yes, I know it adds more calories but I don't eat anything else with my bubble tea.

Here are the ingredients for green bubble tea:  Black Minute Pearls, matcha powder and coconut milk.

My quandary was how do I boost the green tea flavor without using a pre-made bubble tea mix.  I found my answer with matcha powder.  Currently matcha is being used in green tea lattes that you can order at Starbucks.  I wanted to transfer that flavor to my bubble tea.  Matcha normally is expensive and is prepared traditionally with a bamboo wisk.  It didn't matter since I could find only a tea bag with green tea leaves and matcha combined.

After I did a search on Amazon, I found a Japanese brand of matcha.  I ordered it and started brewing it for my bubble tea.  I discovered through trial and error that I needed less than a teaspoon of matcha with a cup of boiling water to make my bubble tea.  If I used more than a teaspoon, the drink tasted bitter.

Subsequently, I wanted to solve my tapioca pearl problem.  I switched to smaller tapioca pearls in hopes that I could boil them in fifteen minutes.  They were chewier than my first batch but were tiny for bubble tea.  I wanted bigger bubbles for my tea.

I found Black Minute Pearls from Boba Tea Direct online.   The pearls only needed to be boiled for five minutes.  They were the traditional black, chewy pearls that I had with restaurant bubble tea.  Hallelujah!  I achieved my bubble tea dream.
Black Minute Pearls are boiling away.
Here is my recipe:

1/2 tsp matcha powder
1 cup boiling water
1 cup ice
2 oz. coconut milk (preferably regular not lite)
2 oz. simple syrup (see text above)
2 handfuls Black Minute Pearls*

1.  It is advantageous to chill the tea 45 minutes before consuming so allow for refrigerator storage.  Boil water and add matcha powder.  Stir until mixed well.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.

2.  Heat three cups of water until boiling vigorously.  Add Black Minute Pearls and boil for 5 minutes.  Drain and let pearls cool.

3.  When tea is cool, add to the blender.  Combine it with ice, coconut milk and simple syrup.  Puree mixture until uniform in color.

4.  Add pearls to tall glass.  Pour contents of blender over pearls.  Add a bubble tea straw and enjoy!

*Black Minute Pearls don't taste as good the second day.  Boil only as many as you want to consume that day.

**Bubble tea straws are available at Boba Tea Direct.

1 comment:

  1. yay for bubble tea!! someday i will do it myself too~