Homemade bubble tea (from a kit!)

I got this surprise bubble tea kit in the mail for a work team event and absolutely loved the results! I am and still will be a fan of the many bubble tea shops out there (and in the Bay Area there are a lot to choose from) but the results of that socially distanced experiment were worthwhile to repeat and share here in hope that others can repeat as well.

opened bubble tea kit from Locca
Bubble tea kit from Locca

There are ways to make tapioca by scratch, but I’ll leave it to the other experts (like Cooking Tree) and experimenters (like Emmy Eats) to explain (that is… until I get to a point where I want to give this effort a shot myself. It looks like a lot of effort!).

The kit I received had premade boba in a vacuum sealed package. Being a bit of a boba snob (and my favorite bubble tea shop supposedly makes their boba from scratch in-house), I would have thought this would make an inferior cup of bubble tea, but was surprised at how chewy (QQ) and delicious these were when complete. I suppose this proves that more important than freshness of the pearls is making sure the tapioca pearls are properly hydrated and freshly cooked.

Most recently I had a “black sugar milk tea” from a bubble tea shop and it blew my taste buds away. Not overly sweet, but with a sweet earthy flavor that comes from “black sugar”. So for my homemade challenge, instead of following instructions, I decided to use the kit to replicate that black sugar bubble tea at home.

Officially, black sugar is a type of unrefined sugar from Okinawa, Japan. It has an earthy taste that has been said to be similar to molasses. So after watching a demo by Boba Guys (who used a house-made muscovado sugar syrup), I went about making some imitation black sugar too, using a mix of molasses and dark brown sugar (which is molasses infused sugar already).

open jar of black sugar syrup
Jar of homemade black sugar syrup

Verdict? The flavor was the same pop and amazement as the store-bought one 馃檪

However the down side is that from beginning to end it takes ~1 1/2 hours to create a glass of bubble tea. You don’t want to make extra since any pearls older than 4 hours will start to congeal and become extra goopy, losing that chew and QQ and just leaving…. goo. So it’s an endeavor to make a fresh homemade cup of bubble tea and may be more work that desired when you have a craving. Personally I don’t mind. Especially during these shelter-in-place times, it’s a nice at-home activity to do. And if thinking of it from a dietary mindset, it makes a cheat treat a very intentional and well-thought out cheat (you’re committing to it if you decide to spent that amount of time waiting for the drink to be ready).

I’ll be continuing to use up this kit as the weeks go by.

Also… I’m not sponsored by Locca. I’ve never gone to their boba shop, but I did enjoy receiving this gift set made by them. Also I am glad the tapioca balls packaging has an ingredients label, which was reassuring I wasn’t going to get a reaction from this treat!

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