Friday, February 19, 2010

Bubble Tea Remix

There has been much buzz recently about the health benefits that come from drinking green tea. David Sandoval, who wrote The Green Foods Bible, says that whenever he does radio call-in shows or speaks at conferences, he inevitably gets asked a lot of questions about green tea.

Green tea comes from the same source as ordinary black tea, but is different in that its leaves are either steamed or pan-fried rather than fermented. It contains less caffeine than black tea and also some vitamins, minerals and powerful antioxidants known as polyphenois.

Green tea is touted as being a great addition to any diet but is especially powerful in warding against cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is even credited with breaking down fat and thus assisting with weight loss.

So how much of this wonder tea should one drink per day? Some say from two to 10 cups per day with most studies saying that five or more cups a day will achieve the greatest benefit.

It occurred to me that one good way to consume more green tea is to drink at least some of it in Bubble Tea. Therefore, for your health benefit, I am re-posting this Bubble Tea article!

Bubble Tea
What’s sweet, fruity, bubbly, and destined to rival your neighborhood double-tall-non-fat-no-whip-cream-mocha? Bubble Tea (also called boba tea, tapioca tea, boba nai cha, pearl tea, milk tea, bubble drink, zhen zhu nai cha, tapioca pearl drink, momi, momi milk tea, QQ or any combination of the above)! It’s a tea-infused milky or fruit-flavored cold drink that’s a drink you can eat.

Bubble Tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s where legend has it that a local tea establishment attracted customers by combining fruit juices with chilled tea. According to Bubble Tea Supply, a Hawaiian company, elementary school children would look forward to buying a cup of refreshing tea after a long, hard day of work and play. Tea stands were set up in front of the schools and would compete for business with the best selling tea. Today, Bubble Tea is spreading quickly from Taiwan to other parts of Asia and to North America.

Tiny Bubbles
The bubble in Bubble Tea refers to two things. First, small bubbles are created since the drink is shaken in the ever-trendy martini shaker before serving. In addition, bubbles in the form of tapioca balls can be added to the drink. These chewy tapioca balls (or pearls or Boba) are derived from the starch of the cassava root, and they taste like a grown-up gummy bear. They are about the size of a marble and are high in fiber and full of minerals. They are generally translucent brown with a darker brown center, although you can get rainbow, green, and coffee pearls to spice up your tea. As you sip your drink, these bubbles travel up the wide straw. The texture, taste, and chewy sensation makes you want more!

There are a myriad of choices when you order a Bubble Tea. Do you want green or black tea? What flavor of Bubble Tea do you want? Some places offer up to 27 different choices. Do you want tapioca balls, and if so, do you want green, rainbow, or the regular black pearls? How about extra pearls? Do you want a slush, a sherbet, or an ice cream float version? Do you want to add small cubes of jelly, such as coconut or lychee jelly, for a different combination? You can even have it hot or cold. From university campuses to neighborhood cafés and upscale restaurants, bubble beverages have become the trendiest drinks on the menu.

Making Bubble Tea at Home
Once you're addicted, you may not want to venture out every time a craving hits. With a little preparation, you can make it in the comfort of your home. You will need tea, sugar syrup or honey, tapioca balls, flavoring (either in powder or syrup form) and creamer for the milky teas.

For the tea part of the experience, you can use green, oolong, or black tea, such as Darjeeling, Ceylon, or Orange Pekoe. (Black tea is commonly known in some Asian cultures as red tea.) Tea adds a depth, complexity, and smoothness to the Bubble Tea. Also, recent studies have credited tea for doing everything from preventing cancer to promoting a healthy heart and curbing arthritis. As well, green tea contains high amounts of powerful antioxidants called catechin polyphenols. All this healthiness offsets the calories, in my opinion!

Sugar Syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups water

Pour ingredients in a large pot. Cook (without stirring) at medium to high heat until the mixture boils. Remove from heat. Cool and store refrigerated.

Tapioca Balls
You can buy the tapioca balls in several of the grocery stores in your local Chinatown. These stores also sell some of the more popular powdered flavoring (such as strawberry, mango, and lychee). You can also order the tapioca balls and flavorings from a Canadian online Bubble Tea website. As well, they sell the wide straws and cups if you need them.

7 cups water
1 cup tapioca balls

Bring water to boil. Once the water is boiling, pour in tapioca balls. Boil for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for another 30 minutes. Strain and rinse with water. Store in a container with 2 tablespoons of sugar syrup for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Now that you have the "mise en place" done for your Bubble Tea experience, you can put it together.

Recipe for Bubble Tea

Serves 1

Straws and Tapioca Pearls

¼ cup of flavored syrup or 1 package of powder
(about ¼ cup per package)
¼ cup of hot water
¾ cup brewed tea, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar syrup
2 tablespoons tapioca balls, cooked

Shake the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker.

Bring some water to a boil in a kettle. Measure 2 tablespoons of tapioca balls into a microwave-safe container. Pour boiling water on top of the tapioca balls to cover. Microwave for 1 minute.
Strain the tapioca balls and pour into cup.

Add some ice. Serve with a wide straw and enjoy.

For a bit of fun, add 1 ounce of rum.

Tasting Notes
You either love or hate Bubble Tea. The tapioca balls are delicious and chewy, and I always add more bubbles than I should since I love them so much. However, one friend I served it to passed it along to his wife since he found the texture of the bubbles disgusting. Send the bubbles my way ... I love them!
Here’s to Good Health for All and Happy Chinese New Year!
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    Unknown said...

    Happy Chinese New Year Shari! Thinking of having a tweetup at a local bubble tea shop.

    Great post. You seem to get the bubbles just as I like them: soft, but with substance. I'm particular, having been drinking bubble tea for quite the number of years no.


    Wendy said...

    Yes I agree - people do either love or hate bubble tea! I am personally a HUGE FAN of bubble tea. Here in Hong Kong we have so many good bubble tea chain stores that sell it with a myriad of flavour favourite at the momement is bubble tea made with Oolong tea.
    I love the photo of the coloured straws, so pretty!

    lisa is cooking said...

    I do love green tea, but I'm not drinking enough of it! I need to try bubble tea at home.

    kiss my spatula said...

    this looks INCREDIBLE!!! bubble tea is near and dear to my heart. love it!!

    Allie said...

    Lovely! I've always loved Bubble Tea and home-made ones are even more fantastic!

    Manggy said...

    I am one of the lovers :) My cousins are extreme lovers - can't get enough of the stuff! MIght as well make them healthy, right? ;)

    Carol Peterman/TableFare said...

    I love bubble tea! You might enjoy my Cocoa Matcha Bubble Tea recipe. Inspired by the popular coffee/tea drink in Hong Kong.

    Lo said...

    A friend from Toronto introduced me to bubble tea a number of years ago when the fad first made its way to North America. I'm still a bubble tea virgin (can't seem to find anywhere that serves it in our area, and I've never bothered to make my own) -- but I know I'd love it, since I'm a big fan of tapioca!

    on the p[a]late said...

    I've heard so much about bubble tea from some friends from Taiwan and China. Thanks for sharing!

    NKP said...

    Wonderful! I bought some of the ingredients for my daughter as she loves bubble tea but I never really understood it before. Thanks!

    Christine said...

    I could go for some almond milk tea or original milk tea right about now.

    Homemade BBT is the best way to make sure it's healthy and not ladened full of sugar and artificial flavour agents. Now that spring and summer are on their way, I think smoothies made with some superfruits, green tea and pearls would be a great drink to fight the hot weather.

    Heba said...

    Great post! Thanks!