What do you think of bubble tea

Why we're drinking bubble tea again this summer

... and how to make bubble tea yourself at home

When the bubble tea trend reached its peak in 2012, I was quite skeptical on the opposite side of the street, looked at one of the seemingly thousands of bubble tea shops that had opened in a very short time and didn't want to know anything about "crazy pearls" in my tea .

I wasn't even interested in the heated discussion that the trendy drink had triggered in Germany at the time. According to a study, there should be carcinogenic substances in the beads - after this report the trend ebbed faster than you could say bubble tea, although it later emerged that the news was incorrect, but more on that in the article.

A few weeks ago we came back to the topic of “bubble tea” in the office and asked ourselves what has become of all these shops. It turns out that some of them still exist (very successfully in fact) and that there are still big bubble tea fans on our team. Time than for an article about it!

The longer I researched for this article, the more interesting it became for me and when I finally had my very first bubble tea, I asked myself: Why didn't I do that back then? Today we want to clear up all questions and concerns about bubble tea and show you how you can make your own bubble tea at home.

Bubble Tea, also known as "Boba", "Boba Tea", "Pearl Milk Tea" or "Bubble Milk Tea" was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s and quickly became more and more popular there. At that time, however, there were no globules in the drink, only sweetened tea in combination with fruit syrup or milk.

The classic bubble tea consists of sweetened black tea with milk and ice cubes and is shaken in a cocktail shaker until a foam forms. Incidentally, this foam is also responsible for the name "Bubble Tea", and not the globules that ended up in it later.

What is bubble tea made of?

First of all, every bubble tea needs a "foundation" - usually a cooled tea. In the meantime, however, there are also variants with coconut water or even smoothies as a base. This basic drink can also be topped up with milk or syrup, if desired.

What makes bubble tea meanwhile, however, are the so-called "toppings", which (contrary to the name suggests) do not swim above but below in the drink and for which you need the equally striking large straw. Yes, we're talking about the notorious “globules” in bubble tea.

The most famous and classic among them are tapioca pearls. Tapioca is a starch that has almost no taste of its own and is made from dried cassava roots. Almost ironic that bubble tea has such an unhealthy reputation, while the cassava root itself is currently experiencing a considerable trend as a superfood.

In addition to tapioca pearls, there are also pieces of jelly and "Popping Boba", small fruit balls whose refreshing fruit juice "explodes" in the mouth when you bite them.

The reputation of unhealthy, sugary bubble tea is widespread, but not necessarily true. As we have already learned, the classic variant consists of tea, milk and tapioca pearls - ingredients, none of which is unhealthy.

Ultimately, bubble tea is as healthy (or unhealthy) as you want, because both in the store and at home you decide on the composition. Of course, everyone can use as much sugar syrup, fruit syrup or sweetened condensed milk as they want and thus drive the sugar and calorie content to extremes. If you don't feel like it, you can even drink a completely sugar-free bubble tea, simply use chia seeds instead of Popping Boba or choose a healthy matcha tea as a base.

Is bubble tea dangerous?

Let's come back to the discussion back then, which put the bubble tea trend down in a very short time. In August 2012, the Rheinische Post published an article that stated that “traces of poison had been found in bubble tea”. Scientists from the Technical University of Aachen have found carcinogenic ingredients in samples of the balls. In fact, the consumer protection ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia then carried out a large investigation with over 80 samples - none of them indicated any toxins.

As it turned out later, the investigation was just a test for a new measuring device. Even the quoted scientist from the article said that he had never made any statements about the health risks and saw the whole thing as a "smear campaign". Unfortunately, by then it was already too late and the reputation of the dangerous bubble tea still sticks to the globules.

Not to be disregarded, however, is the justified criticism that one should point more clearly to the danger for small children who could choke on the sometimes quite large balls and even suffocate.

Is bubble tea vegan and gluten-free?

Typically, all toppings such as tapioca pearls, popping boba and jellies are vegan and gluten-free. This property is actually a good quality feature for a “traditional”, good bubble tea and you should rather stay away from variants that contain gelatine, for example.
Apart from the toppings, depending on your preference and diet, you can simply do without milk completely in the composition of your bubble tea or replace it with plant-based milk if you are lactose intolerant or vegan.

For this article, we made a round of bubble tea ourselves in the office and you won't believe how it was ripped out of our hands despite initial skepticism. Of course, when you make bubble tea at home, you have complete control over what ends up in it and can experiment with which combination you like best. Another advantage compared to bought bubble tea: You can also exchange the plastic straws directly for environmentally friendly drinking straws made of stainless steel.

It is easiest to start with a freshly brewed and then cooled tea. It is up to you which type of tea you use - from green, black to white or rooibos tea, it is best to choose the type that you prefer to drink. The Japanese Genmaicha tea is made from roasted rice grains and thus gets a great malty roasted aroma. For black tea lovers, a particularly aromatic variety such as Assam is recommended.

Once you have cooled your tea, you can enjoy it pure, or fill it up in your glass with milk as you wish and taste, or with sweetened condensed milk for a sweeter variant.

If you are not a fan of tea, you can make your bubble tea based on coconut water, fruit milk or a smoothie instead.

If you want to use jellies or the refreshing “Popping Boba” fruit balls in all flavors, we recommend that you buy them directly in the Asian supermarket or online. Sometimes they are even available directly from bubble tea stores. However, doing it yourself is quite complicated and the effort is only partially worthwhile. A little tip at this point: The pulp of aloe vera is also ideal for bubble tea!

Tapioca pearls, on the other hand, can be prepared quickly and easily at home. The uncooked pearls are also available in the Asian supermarket or on the Internet. That is how it goes:

1. Boil enough water in a large saucepan. You should use at least 7 cups of water for 1 cup of uncooked tapioca pearls. As soon as the water boils, you can add the tapioca pearls to the water and stir gently so that they don't stick to the bottom.
2. As soon as the tapioca pearls float on the surface, put a lid on the pot, reduce the heat and let the pearls simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. After the cooking time you take the pot off the stove, but leave it with the lid on for about 15 minutes and steep.
4. Now you can pour off the water and rinse the tapioca pearls under clear water.
5. Put the cooked pearls in a bowl or container and sweeten them with simple sugar syrup or brown sugar to taste. Let it steep for about 15 minutes and then use it for the bubble tea.

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If you like, you can sweeten your bubble tea in many places. It starts with the choice of toppings: add more sugar syrup to the tapioca pearls or use sweeter variations for Popping Boba and Jellies. Not enough? You can of course refine your tea with even more sugar or fruit syrup. Those who prefer it more aromatic can experiment with spices such as cardamom, pumpkin spice or even rose water.

So that you don't lose the overview, we have put together a small menu selection for you. You notice: Bubble tea is harmless and can even be drunk in healthy combinations.

Are you a fan of bubble tea or are you still skeptical about the drink? Let us know in the comments and tell us what your favorite combination is.

Published on August 25, 2018