Can I freeze tapioca bubble tea?

Bubble tea, BOBA or pearl tea is a classic sweet soft drink from China and Taiwan but has now achieved a certain cult status in America and Australia. You can find more information about Pearl Milk Tea here.
The bubble tea consists of a base of very strong black or green tea. It is mixed with sugar syrup or fruit syrup, ice cubes and milk and then shaken up in a shaker. The bubbles that are created are called bubbles and this is where the tea actually gets its name. However, it is now more common that the tapioca pearls found in tea are also called bubbles.

The tapioca pearls are the most important thing about bubble tea. They are very large and black and must be sucked up through a special straw. The alternating chewing and drinking and the almost infinite selection of different flavors make the drink so popular.
As already mentioned, the classic BOBA consists of tea, milk and syrup. There are now also versions with fruit or even coffee. Instead of black tea, you can also use chai tea or matcha and you don't always have to add milk.

Here is a small selection of pictures from FLICKR:


Where to get large tapioca pearls from
Tapioca pearls can vary in shape, color and size, but they are usually so large that you cannot drink them through a normal straw. You can buy very small tapioca pearls in normal Asian shops. They are not suitable for bubble tea, but are more likely to be used in other desserts.

The black tapioca pearls are available in this shop, for example. Unfortunately, there are only 3kg packs there, that's really a lot and that's why we made a small bulk order in the nekobento forum, where several bulk buyers then shared your pearls with other people. Since we were a total of 8 bulk buyers, we each got a pack of straws and postage for free! :)

Update:There are now many bubble tea products to buy in this shop and even much smaller portions of the pearls. Perfect for everyone who just wants to try this out :)

"Asian-Brand" currently has larger white tapioca pearls. These are slightly different in consistency than the black, but theoretically perhaps an alternative. I've seen them in action several times and I'll try them out when I get the chance and report on the differences.

But here comes the classic basic recipe:
Based on the recipes from here and here.

You need:
- black tapioca pearls
- much water
- cane sugar and white sugar
- strong tea
- Milk
- ice cubes

Cooking tapioca pearls:
You need a handful of black tapioca pearls for 3 to 4 glasses. Be careful, they are quite soft and can be easily crushed or crumbled! The white tapioca pearls, on the other hand, are more stable - but I've never used them for bubble tea so I can't say anything more specific.
In the "raw" state the pearls are brown, but they slowly turn black during cooking.

The ratio of pearls to water is 1: 7 or 1: 8.If you have a cup of tapioca pearls you have to boil it in at least 7 cups of water. This is very important because a lot of starch escapes when you cook and the water can otherwise thicken very quickly. The pearls have to be boiled for 25 to 30 minutes, as the water can evaporate very quickly and must be refilled if necessary.

So bring a lot of water to the boil and add the tapioca pearls.Stir gently but quickly so that they don't stick to the bottom. As soon as they swim on the surface in the boiling water, switch to medium heat and simmer with the lid closed for 30 minutes. The water should bubble but not boil over. Stir occasionally. The cooking time can vary depending on the size of your pearls. Try the pearls if necessary. They should be soft, but still a bit tough in the middle and have a consistency like gummy bears. If you leave them for even longer, they have the consistency of mochi dough, which is a bit too soft for me personally.

When they are done, quench the pearls thoroughly with water so that they can cool and the remaining starch can drain off.

The bubble tea syrup can also be prepared while cooking. Simply mix cane sugar and white sugar in equal parts with 2 parts water in a saucepan and heat. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Then take it off the stove and let it cool down. I used 1 cup each of sugar and 2 cups of water. This makes a large glass of sugar syrup. That's enough for 10 servings, so you can use smaller cups, for example, or only use half of everything if that's too much for you.

The cold tapioca pearls must now be covered with a portion of sugar syrup and soak for some time. They can be stored quite easily, even for several days.
It may be that the next day they become a little softer on the outside because they have soaked themselves full of the syrup, but they are relatively hard on the inside. It is best not to keep them in the refrigerator, because they will be even harder. In this case, you just have to pour hot water over them for a short time and they'll be soft again! Of course, they taste best freshly cooked on the same day. You should always prepare small portions.


Now put a small amount of pearls in a large glass and now prepare the tea.

For 2 to 3 glasses we need 1 half glass of very strong black or green tea. It has to be really strong and already cooled and cold.
Half a glass of cold milk is also added. 1 to 2 tablespoons of the bubble tea syrup and 2 handfuls of crushed ice or normal ice cubes. Put all of these ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously.


If you don't have a cocktail shaker, like me, you should use a waterproof Tupperware box.It works the same way with it. The milk should be shaken really nice and frothy. In principle, you don't do anything else with it than a tea latte (just like I did with Matcha here).

Now pour the finished tea mixture into the glass with the bubble pearls and, if necessary, sweeten it. Enjoy with a large straw and more ice cubes!

The taste of the slightly tart tea should dominate and still taste sweet. The consistency should be pleasantly creamy like other latte drinks. The tapioca pearls are slightly sweet and are similar to gummy bears or firmer mochi. This is the classic pearl milk tea and I love the drink! ^ _ ^

I will gradually test more types of bubble tea and tell you about them again! ;) So have a look here again!


P.S .: in some major German cities there are probably also tea shops that sell bubble tea. It's still pretty rare, but still!
One of the well-known shops is said to be in Hamburg, namely here. But by a little googling, I found two in Berlin. Many Thanks to Siulongwho told me about a bubble tea shop in Frankfurt.

Anyone who knows a bubble tea shop somewhere can send it to me! :)