DIY Taiwanese Bubble Tea

What’s tall, a shade of mocha brown, has tiny balls and a big fat straw inside it?

Why it’s bubble tea of course! 

Also known as boba drink, pearl tea drink, boba ice tea, boba, boba nai cha, zhen zhou nai cha, pearl milk tea, and probably many other names, bubble tea originated in Taiwan in the early 1980’s.

What started as small tea stands outside of elementary schools on the streets of Taiwan has now become an international phenomenon, with plenty of stores in North America and other parts of the world serving bubble tea!

The bubbles in the tea are tapioca pearls that are usually made of caramel, starch, and chamomile extract. This cool beverage is not just a fad, its addicting, and in Taiwan especially, it is a lifestyle.

Since bubble tea is so well known and loved in this country I decided I was going to try to make my own!
There are many ways of making this delicious drink. You can use different types of sugar, syrups instead of sugar, and even different blends of tea! It’s hard to go wrong, which is a big reason behind why I chose to take a shot at this Taiwanese staple.
For this experiment you will need:
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Tapioca pearls
Sugar
Milk (regular or soy)
Black tea
A strainer
2 pots
The quantities in this recipe are for one portion so just adjust accordingly, depending on how many glasses you’d like to enjoy!
Step 1: Take 30 grams of tapioca pearls and boil on medium to high heat in 500 mL of water for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the tapioca turns a dark brown colour.
 Step 2: In a separate pot, add 300 mL of water and 10 grams (or 1-1.5 tea spoons) of black tea and let it boil for one minute. Next add 300 mL of milk and once it starts to boil reduce heat. At this time you can also add the amount of sugar you desire, I added two teaspoons. Stir this mixture occasionally.
Step 3: Next strain the black tea leaves from the milk tea.
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Step 4:Once tapioca is cooked (dark brown), strain it and place it in a cup like so.
Step 5: Add the strained milk tea into the cup filled with tapioca and ENJOY!
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You may add more ingredients as desired but here you have basic Bubble Tea in five easy steps! Although it didn’t taste exactly like the tea one can find in a shop, the gratification of having made it with my own two hands made the drink THAT much more enjoyable. It’s also nice because you can control just how sweet or how strong you make it!

However, if you’re trying Bubble Tea for the first time, you should really go to the experts. In Taiwan, there’s an abundance of fantastic tea stores, but here are some excellent places, courtesy of BuzzFeed, that you should definitely try!

 

Fear Not Food Lovers

When I talk to people about life in Taiwan I am often bombarded with questions about food.

“But…. what’s the food like over there?”

“What do you eat everyday?!” 

“Is it mainly just rice??”

It’s true that I eat a lot of rice and noodle based dishes, (which I am more than okay with because frankly they are delicious) but I have also found plenty of alternative meal options, that are healthy, scrumptious, and most importantly, diverse!

Taipei is a city with a population of 2.7 million people, so naturally there are restaurants of almost any cuisine one could possibly desire! I’m talking Spanish, Italian, Indian, Thai, Mediterranean, Vietnamese you name it, this city has it.

Recently I decided to try a German restaurant called Oma Ursel’s and it was one of the best meals I have had in a long time!

Oma Ursel’s German Restaurant and Bakery has operated in Taipei since 2004. It’s safe to say they definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to serving freshly cooked food.

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The exterior of the building has an old fairy-tale feel to it and the outdoor patio is extremely quaint and makes you feel as if you are visiting your grandmother’s home. Waitresses dressed in traditional German outfits add to the cultural experience.

Their menu is filled with authentic dishes, with lunch and dinner specials ranging from approximately $300-600 NTD ($13-$25 CAD). Oma Ursel’s offers great value for the freshness, high quality, and accompaniments of their dishes see for yourself and check out their menu here!

When I visited I had fresh fish and spaetzle noodles for dinner; it was delectable.

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The restaurant has homemade vegetable and chicken soups, in addition to fresh salads for appetizers.

For myself, and my fellow dessert lovers out there, the real winner is their dessert selection.

With fresh pastries and pies made each day, your choice of dessert is included in most lunch/ dinner specials and they are all to die for. Don’t forget tea or coffee is also included!

Apple pie and caramel ice coffee. Is there a better way to end a meal? Maybe. But this way is pretty darn good. 

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Coming from an Italian background, most of my family and even many of my friends always have food on the brain. Some firmly believe that they could not survive over here because they believe the food is so “different.”

What they have yet to see is that there are SO many fantastic food options to choose from, even for the pickiest of eaters. So to help debunk this myth I’m going to start writing more about the meals I have and the new foods I indulge in.

Hopefully I’ll provide some knowledge about how delicious authentic Taiwanese cuisine can be while showcasing how diverse the restaurants of Taipei are!

Stay tuned for updates on traditional Taiwanese restaurants, and look out (be glad you are nowhere near my kitchen) for a personal attempt at making a few authentic recipes!

Until then, stay hungry friends!

Oma Ursel’s Restaurant and Bakery Taipei

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Review by The Taipei Times