Bubble Tea (Attempt #2)

A little while back, I attempted to make my own bubble tea. The milk tea portion was obviously delicious but the actual tapioca pearls were another story. They weren’t horrible but they just were not the texture they are supposed to be and the dough was not fully cooperating. I still had leftover tapioca starch so I decided I would try again.

I found a new recipe and I was hoping for a success. The recipe I tried this time was from Joshua Weissman – he calls the recipe Perfect Boba Tea. If he can use the word ‘perfect’, everything is sure to go well… right?

Note: I only followed his recipe for the tapioca pearls portion because that’s what I was most interested in. I was just going to use iced earl grey tea instead of classic milk tea.

Like I mentioned, I started off very hopeful. The recipe was super straightforward and only has 3 ingredients – tapioca flour/starch, brown sugar and water – so I was feeling good. It starts off by heating the water and brown sugar until dissolved and then stirring in the tapioca starch, one half at a time. Once it starts to resemble a dough, it’s time to knead until it becomes the consistency of playdoh (plasticine).

I have no idea how, but at some point, things went sideways. I was following everything to a tee but my dough was not coming together. It was super crumbly but wet at the same time. It was almost the consistency of “oobleck” if you know what that is. Basically, there was no way I could roll the dough into ropes and cut into individual tapioca pearls.

After a lot of time and patience, I was able to take little pieces of dough and make pearls one at a time. I had to squeeze each one between my fingers to shape them. Some held their shape relatively well, but others were melting – that’s the best word I can use to describe it. You can see in the picture below, the various shapes I had. I should mention that I only ended up making about 30 pearls before totally giving up, it was a pain-staking process.

Tapioca pearls before cooking

Next was the cooking. The pearls had to boil in a large pot of water for 30 minutes then rest in that pot for another 20-25 minutes. I did all that cooking for my 30 little boba and then they were supposedly ready. They looked soft and chewy, but also very sticky because of the brown sugar in the dough.

I assembled my tea starting with the pearls, followed by some simple syrup, iced tea and some milk. It looked good, but once again, I was disappointed by the pearls. These turned out even weirder than the first time I made them. It was chewy on the outside but the inside was very hard, as if it wasn’t cooked all the way through. I have no idea what happened but I couldn’t eat these ones.

Normally I would say I could try again because ‘third time’s the charm’ but I don’t if I can handle another possible boba letdown. If you have an actual FOOLPROOF boba recipe, please let me know. But in the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to keep buying my bubble tea.

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