Bubble tea… love it or hate it, you have it admit it is pretty darn fun.
Typically a traditional Thai bubble tea is made with Thai tea mix (similar to black tea) and sweetened condensed milk, along with a base of chewy black tapioca pearls. This twist on the traditional was inspired by a drink I enjoyed in New York City earlier this summer (the same trip where I pretty much went on a passion fruit binge, sparking an obsession that won’t likely abate any time soon).
The passion fruit adds a surprising brightness to the tea, slightly tart with a tropical tang that is offset perfectly by the creamy sweet tea.
This was my first time making boba at home, and I simply followed the package instructions, covering the pearls with a sugar syrup once they were tender, and you can definitely do the same (they are ready in about 10 minutes). I do recommend checking out Julie’s instructional video on the subject, however, if you are looking for a more authentic texture from your tapioca pearls. Her process is slightly more complex but the results are well worth it.
For creaminess I added a splash of homemade almond milk (recipe coming soon!) Since it was homemade, I was able to use less water, therefore making the milk thicker and richer and more like heavy cream than the thin almond milks you can buy in the store. It was, to put it bluntly, incredible. I used the rest in my cereal and it was pretty much the most decadent bowl of Joe’s Os I’ve ever had.
The passion fruit concentrate I used does give the drink a slightly curdled appearance, however it tastes just as smooth and creamy as you’d expect from traditional bubble tea. Something like a passion fruit syrup would probably produce a visually-smoother consistency, although who knows what sorts of chemicals make up the passion fruit flavors in that stuff. But I’m sure that’s what the boba shops use in their flavored drinks, as opposed to, you know, real fruit.
You could certainly make this recipe without the passion fruit for a more traditional thai tea. And while I used almond milk for an entirely dairy-free refreshment, you could use cream or half-and-half or even sweetened condensed milk in your own version. I don’t think you can go wrong either way.
I was curious, though, what exactly IS boba? These black tapioca pearls look a bit like giant caviar. Or fish eyes. With a gelatinous texture that I know some people just don’t like (I happen to love it, however!)
Tapioca itself is a starch extracted from the cassava root (a widely cultivated root that is a major dietary staple in many developing countries, since its basically pure carbohydrates). It’s an incredible thickener, as I discovered in my cherry pie experiments, producing a filling that was practically a solid mass of gummy candy (obviously I used too much, but still, point made). Tapioca pearls are made by passing processed starch through a sieve under pressure. Black pearls are the most common, but you can also find white and pastel versions, all starting out opaque but turn shiny and somewhat translucent when fully cooked. The texture should be soft and only slightly chewy all the way through the center of the pearl.
And don’t forget your fat straws! It’s pretty much the only way you can properly consume bubble tea, liquid, boba, and all (side note: they’re also great for smoothies and milkshakes!)
Passion Fruit Bubble Tea
- 1 cup tapioca pearls
- 1 cup natural cane sugar (or 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown sugar)
- 6 bags black tea
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) passion fruit concentrate
- almond milk, to taste (alternatively you can use cream or half-and-half)
- Bring a large pot with at least 10 cups of water to a boil. Cook boba according to package directions (alternatively, Julie over at The Little Kitchen has developed an alternative method for cooking boba that she swears by. It’s worth checking out if you are looking for authentic boba). Drain and transfer to a bowl.
- Meanwhile, bring 1 cup water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour half of sugar syrup over boba, or enough to fully cover the pearls (reserve remaining syrup). This will sweeten and preserve the boba. Refrigerate until cool. (Boba are best enjoyed within a few hours of cooking, however they will keep in the syrup for a day or two. If they become hard and chewy, simply microwave the boba in the syrup for a minute or until soft).
- Steep black tea in 32 ounces (4 cups) of very hot water for about 10 minutes (depending on how strong you want your tea). Remove tea bags and refrigerate until cool (plop in an ice cube or two to help speed up the cooling process.)
- Just before serving, stir in passionfruit concentrate and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of reserved sugar syrup to tea (add more or less syrup to taste). Spoon boba into serving glasses. Fill glasses 3/4-full with tea mixture, then top off with almond milk or cream to taste.
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Great post and very informative.
The great part about it is that it shows how easy it is to make bubble tea. Sago or tapioca pearls are a common dessert ingredient in Southeast Asia and East Asia. The drinks are easy to make and great for any time of the day.
Great post! I’m a fashion/graphic designer, and the world’s worst cook, but I managed to make some awesome boba tea at home! Was super easy. I go to a little restaurant in Miami called Dumpling King and they serve the best bubble teas. Lucky for me, next to Dumpling King there is also an asian mart. I hadn’t noticed it until last week after I got my cup of Passion Fruit/Lychee flavored green tea with boba and coconut jelly (sounds crazy but the mix is delicious). I stocked up on supplies to make boba tea at home. My tea tasted delightfully sweet, tropical, and part chewy, just like I hoped it would. I’m officially a bubble tea junkie now! Thanks for the post as it was very helpful!
Just wanted to say I really enjoyed that you present both variations in the recipe. I also appreciate how you explain the differences between the healthy/homemade version and the take-out kind.
Yum. I love bubble tea – great recipe!
Yum! This looks so delicious! I’ve never tried making it myself but i think you just convinced me ;)
This is gorgeous! I miss making bubble tea. I need to make some soon!
This settles it. I’m going out for a passion fruit bubble tea today! I discovered a great little spot just a few miles from our home, lots of options for flavors and bubbles, yay! And then I need to learn how to make bubble tea at home – great recipe, Lindsay!
I’ve had a bag of tapioca pearls in my cabinet for a few months now and I’ve been too nervous that I’ll mess it up when I try to make it (silly, I know!). Also, how can you possibly drink boba without the straws – and until now, I never knew where to get them! Your bubble tea recipe is inspiring me to pull it out tomorrow.
Confession: I’ve never had REAL bubble tea! I made it a few years ago for my blog so I could try it because I didn’t know where to find it, and I LOVED it! Now I”m too scared to buy it just in case it’s way different from the homemade version :) I totally want passion fruit concentrate now.
I love bubble tea! I’ve tried a shop bought passion fruit one and it was good, but I always think homemade is best – the strawberry one I made definitely was, need to try this!
Love, love, love that you added passion fruit to this! I think we have an equally as debilitating crush on that wonderful fruit/ingredient.
Amoretti has a great Passion Fruit syrup; all natural, no weird stuff. Here’s a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amoretti-Premium-Syrup-Passion-Fruit/dp/B00A66UX5U/ref=sr_1_2?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1412625025&sr=1-2&keywords=amoretti+passion+fruit
I grew up on passion fruit in Hawaii. It;’s also called “lilikoi” and my mom has tons of trees..so lucky!! Anything with passion fruit I’m in for!
Ohhh, i lurrvveee bubble tea :D (Then again, I’m asian) My friend strongly dislikes bubble tea because of the “bubbles”. The texture makes her gag ^^” This version sounds delish. I just happened to find a big bag of fat straws at a local store so I’ll have to try out your version too :D The thick creamy almond milk sounds great too, by the way! I tried making almond milk once, but failed miserably… So you can imagine I’m quite curious for your recipe ;)
Looks fantastic and am looking forward to trying this recipe:-)
Wow! Never even thought about making these at home! Love the idea. Thanks!
I have seriously always wondered what bubble tea is… Sounds so so interesting. Your passion fruit version sounds divine!
Bubble tea is the best. I’m mildly obsessed with them and always have to try it whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant (mango is my favorite). Although it’s interesting to note that the Taiwanese actually invented it!
I adore boba tea, and have always wondered what boba is. Thanks for sharing! This passion fruit, boba combo looks amazing!
Awesome! I used to have a mild obsession with bubble tea, but I haven’t had it in years!! This homemade version looks so fun, especially with passion fruit flavor!
Love the sounds of this one! And very cool that you and Julie have similar themes going on today! Pinned :)
This sounds great! Love the flavour of this!