Making Boba Tea at home: why its worth the time during quarantine

Photo by Genna Tran

On May 8th, 2020 I made my first brown sugar boba tea. Due to the stay at home order issued for COVID-19, I was reluctant to leave my house to purchase boba tea as I normally would. My homemade boba tea ended up decent, but the tapioca pearls were not as chewy compared to the ones I buy. Overall, I was satisfied with my drink and felt greater joy than if I spent the two hours on a Netflix binge.

On March 23rd, 2020 the Governor of Michigan announced that the state would be on lockdown and that only essential businesses would be open. Despite most cafes being open, I was reluctant to go outside and get boba tea. To cure my boba addiction, I decided to make boba from home instead. Once I did my research, I realized that boba tea wasn’t difficult to make, and that I had most of the ingredients at home. The recipe I used is by the Youtube channel “Emmymadeinjapn”. ( ingredients needed to make brown sugar milk boba are tapioca starch, brown sugar, water, and milk.

Before you make this, I have to warn you that this is time consuming. It took me at least 2 hours to make, but those two hours helped me both move away from the internet and into a sense of independent joy.

For the tapioca pearls you need:

3 ¼ tablespoon of brown sugar

¼ cup of water

¾ cups of tapioca starch

Make the tapioca pearl dough: Add ¼ cup of water and 3 ¼ tablespoon of brown sugar into a pot, heat the pot until all the ingredients have dissolved. After it's been dissolved, turn off the heat and add a spoonful of tapioca starch and mix it and turn the heat back on. Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat off. Now add the rest of the remaining tapioca starch and mix it in.

Knead the tapioca pearls into balls: Sprinkle tapioca starch onto a clean surface, scrape the dough onto the surface and start kneading it. Add more tapioca starch if needed. Split the dough into halves and roll out the piece into a snake-like body. Cut the dough into ¼ inch pieces, then roll the small pieces of dough into a spherical shape. Then coat it in tapioca starch.

Cook the tapioca pearls: Add the tapioca pearls into a large pot of boiling water. Keep boiling for 20 minutes. Don’t forget to stir it when you put the tapioca pearls in! Once you see the pearls float onto the surface, stir the pearls every few minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it rest for another 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes are up, pour the tapioca pearls into a strainer and set them aside.

Make the brown sugar syrup: Heat up a pan to medium heat and add ⅓ cup of brown sugar and pat down the brown sugar then add the freshly cooked boba and mix it together. Assemble the drink: Add two scoops of boba into a cup and roll the cup around so that it could get that “tiger stripes” effect. Add ice and pour milk.

Even though it took me hours to make, I was satisfied with the outcome of the drink, and the process helped me reminisce about the times I would constantly leave my house and drive to Quickly Boba Cafe just to get boba tea.

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