I may be slightly obsessed with bubble tea these days. Which is funny, because I’m not a tea drinker. But I guess if you mix tea with cream and sugar and squishy sweet bubbles, it doesn’t much taste like tea anymore, does it? Those additions make all the difference.
My new quest is to figure out what other things I can do with boba aside from in tea. Like, dessert things. Do you dare me?
This particular variation mixes traditional Thai tea with homemade almond milk and almond flavored syrup. It’s no secret I love anything and everything almond, so it follows that this is pretty darn awesome. It reminds me of a boba tea I had in San Francisco a few years ago and which served as the inspiration for this recipe: the hint of almond the perfect counterpart to the bitterness of the tea.
The bright orange color comes from the traditional Thai tea mix, a blend of teas and flavorings and (yes) artificial colors. If you’ve ever had Thai tea in a restaurant, this is what they use. You are welcome to use straight black or green tea in place of the tea mix, but I guarantee you it won’t be quite the same. Something about that tiger orange color makes the tea taste better, in my opinion.
To prepare this recipe you’ll need black tapioca pearls (boba), raw or turbinado sugar, almond syrup, almond milk (homemade if possible) and thai tea mix or black tea (which will taste similar but will not give you the same vibrant orange color). In lieu of almond syrup you can use a bit of almond extract, and instead of turbinado sugar you can use a mix of granulated and brown sugars to give the syrup that same caramel flavor.
I used a slightly different method for preparing the boba, as opposed to what’s written on the package, and the texture of the pearls is much more pleasant. Smoother through and through with no unpleasantly chewy center. It takes a few minutes longer (give yourself 20 minutes or so to let it sufficiently soak), but well worth the extra effort.
It’s mesmerizing, I tell you. Like some sort of nebulous cloud of sweetness.
- Bring a pot with at least 5 cups of water to a boil. Add boba and boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes more.
- While boba is cooking, combine 1/2 cup water and sugar in a small saucepan. Boil for 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl. Stir in almond syrup.
- Strain boba with a slotted spoon into sugar syrup. Let sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
- To brew tea, add tea mix to 2 cups boiling water. Let steep for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh seive to remove solids. If you prefer your thai tea chilled, refrigerate tea until thoroughly chilled.
- To prepare bubble tea, spoon half of boba into bottom of glass, along with a tablespoon or two of syrup. Pour in 8 ounces of brewed tea, then top with 1/4 cup of almond milk. Taste, and stir in additional sugar syrup as desired. Can be served warm or chilled.
*Almond syrup (the kind you put in flavored coffees, for example) can be purchased at most grocery stores or online. If you can’t find it, you can simply add about 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or to taste) to your sugar syrup.