Too pricey, too sweet, too inaccessible, too boring—there’s a myriad of reasons to start hating on all those commercialized milk teas. Hey, it’s okay! You can make a blend yourself just the way you like it.
You can buy all the pearl milk tea ingredients needed at local stores now. You can even make chewy boba from scratch! You can make a refreshing cup or two to satisfy those random cravings at home. You can even make gallons of your custom blend and start your own shop! Whatever your purpose may be, here’s how you can make your own pearl milk tea.
Where To Buy Milk Tea Ingredients
Start with the tea you’re going to use. When you buy in milk tea stores, you usually get to choose from varieties like black, green, Hokkaido, Okinawa, and wintermelon. At home, what you can do is brew your favorite tea bags or loose tea leaves.
These are readily available in supermarkets and even in convenience stores. You can head to specialty stores, too, if you want to try blends with unique infusions.
Choose Oolong, black tea, green tea, or jasmine for your dose of caffeine. Pick chamomile or peppermint if you want to go caffeine-free and you like their distinct herbal taste. You can also use matcha powder if you have some on hand. What’s great is you can keep the tea taste mild or strong by adjusting the time you steep your tea.
For the sweetener and milk, you can choose which kind suits your taste best, too, and they’re usually very accessible. You can use the white sugar you have at home, try your tea with brown sugar, or use sugar syrup or honey. As for the milk, full-cream or whole milk works best for a silky, creamy taste. But you can also use half-and-half, low-fat alternatives, and plant-based products like soy or almond milk.
P.S. Don’t forget to prepare enough ice!
When it comes to your boba, you can buy ready-to-cook pearls. Specialty ingredients stores like Negosyong Bayan outlets, inJoy, and Restaurant Depot sell packaged tapioca pearls by the kilogram. You can also buy packs of Ersao Black Tapioca Pearls and other varieties online thru Lazada or Shopee. These usually come with cooking instructions already.
How To Make Boba Or Tapioca Pearls From Scratch
If you’re a DIY queen, you’ll just need three or four basic ingredients for your very own boba. The key ingredient is the tapioca flour or starch, which you can buy from baking supply stores or online sellers. But you can also skip it altogether (and settle for the usual translucent sago color). Here’s the recipe for classic tapioca pearls (about two servings):
What You Need:
- 2 and 1/2 cups of water
- 6 tablespoons of tapioca flour or starch
- Optional: black liquid food coloring (alternatives: activated charcoal or black sugar)
- Honey or sugar syrup in a small bowl (Note, if you don’t want the pearls to be too sweet, you can combine the syrup with some water.)
- Measuring spoons and cups
- A pot or saucepan for boiling
- Two small bowls
- A fork
- A ladle
How To Prep:
- Boil the water in a pot or saucepan.
- Place the tapioca starch in one bowland add a tablespoon of hot water.
- In another bowl, combine two to three drops of black food coloring with a tablespoon of hot water. Pour this mixture in the tapioca-and-hot-water bowl.
- Mix this with a fork and then knead with your hands until you get a smooth dough.
- Divide the dough into two parts, and roll them into sticks (about one centimeter thick). Cut the sticks into smaller pieces, and roll them into balls. Adjust the size, as needed.
- Bring the water to a boil again and add the tapioca pearls. Stir and cook for about 15 minutes or until you reach your desired soft or chewy consistency.
- Remove the pearls from the heat and let them rest for a few minutes. Once they cool down, shrink, and turn black, transfer them in a bowl of sugar syrup or honey.
PSA: Cooked tapioca pearls have to be consumed right away or within eight hours.
Craving for brown sugar pearls? You’ll just need to do the same steps but modify the last one. Instead of just letting the boba rest at room temp, place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Then, in a saucepan on low heat, add 1.5 cups of water and then stir in half a cup (or eight tablespoons) of brown sugar.
Once you get a nice syrup, add the chilled pearls and mix well. Be sure to stir constantly to prevent the boba from sticking together. After five to ten minutes, you can now use the brown sugar pearls and syrup for your milk tea or brown sugar milk beverage.
Basic Pearl Milk Tea Recipe
It’s quite simple after preparing all the ingredients and cooking the tapioca pearls. After steeping the tea in hot water for a few minutes (usually three to five), cool it to room temperature. You can refrigerate your brew to speed up the process.
If you’re using granulated sugar, you can sweeten the tea while it’s hot. If you want to adjust the sweetness after adding milk, though, you can use sugar syrup or honey later on.
For a tall glass of pearl milk tea, add two or more tablespoons of boba (we won’t judge you if you fill the glass halfway!). Then, fill the glass with ice and add a cup of the cooled tea.
Stir in two to three tablespoons of milk, and taste to check if you need to sweeten it further. (Note: You can adjust the proportions—more milk, less ice, or less sweetness—if you like!)
All The Milk Tea Add-Ons You Can Try
Are you the kind of person who believes in “The more, the merrier” when it comes to milk tea add-ons? Feel free to experiment and recreate the milk tea combos you love! There are plenty of optional toppings and sinkers that give milk tea diverse flavors.
Try your DIY milk tea with a topping of salted cream, rock salt and cheese cream, or a scoop of your favorite ice cream. How about substituting pearls with (or adding) pudding, nata de coco, coffee jelly, or chia seeds?
You can also mix in crush Oreos, taro, red beans, and whatever else you’re craving. The possibilities are endless!
BRB, concocting our own milk tea drink now.
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