Buckle up sippers. Today, we are transporting you to the happening streets of Taiwan where the afternoon pick-me-up isn’t a coffee run, but a boba break.
Not to burst your bubble, but the word “boba” actually refers to a broad category of chunky drinks — including everything from iced tea with tapioca pearls to fresh juice loaded with fruity bits — or even black tapioca pearls themselves. But most commonly, the drink that Taiwan has gifted to the world consists of black tea, milk, ice, and chewy tapioca pearls — all shaken together like a Friday night cocktail and served with an iconic large straw to slurp up all the marbles of tapioca that cluster at the bottom of the cup.
Rumour has it that the beloved beverage was actually created in a moment of boredom! The history books recall it as follows:
During a rather laborious staff meeting one day, Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui of Chun Shui Tang teahouse, decided to plop her Taiwanese dessert called fen yuan — a sweetened tapioca pudding— into her Assam iced tea and drink it. It was so good that it was immediately added to the menu, and soon became the top-selling product. After that, teahouses all over Taiwan started adding tapioca pearls and different fruit flavours to their iced teas — bubble tea as we now know It was born!
Poured into a clear cup to show off its bouncy and bubbly qualities, bubble tea can be made in a wide range of ways — included how Michelle, T2’s in-house tea sommelier, has prepared it for you, below.
Skip the queue and whip up your own! Our cult-favourite Banana Bake gets bubble tea status with a recipe so simple you’ll never have to stand in line again.
- 2 tsp loose leaf Banana Bake
- 100 ml/3.4 fl oz of boiling water
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cooked tapioca pearls
- 150 ml/5.1 fl oz milk/mylk — frothed if desired
- Cinnamon to dust on top
To make the tapioca pearls
In a large pot, boil about ten cups of water for every half cup of dried tapioca pearls. Half a cup of dried tapioca pearls makes about 1 cup of cooked pearls.
Once you have a rolling boil, add the dried tapioca pearls to the pot and wait for them to float. This should take about 20 seconds. Once all the tapioca pearls float to the top, lower the heat to medium and simmer. Continue to cook for 30 minutes uncovered.
Take the pot off the stove, cover with a lid, and rest for another 30 minutes.
Strain the tapioca pearls and run them under cold water to remove excess starch.
Taste test the tapioca pearls and see if they have chewy consistency throughout. If they are still a little tough, repeat the above process until you have the desired texture.
To make the bubble tea
Brew the Banana Bake in a small cup for 10 minutes then remove the infuser.
Once brewed, add the maple syrup and stir.
In a separate heatproof glass, fill with ice, a tablespoon of tapioca pearls and 150ml of milk or mylk.
Add the tea and top the glass with frothed milk or mylk and a dusting of cinnamon. For a really decadent treat, add banana bake infused whipped cream or ice cream on top.