Boba has become more and more popular, and the little balls that sit at the bottom of the cup make tea a lot more exciting.
There are theories as to how boba (especially in tea) has become so popular, such as the idea of encouraging the customers to do their advertising for them.
This is done by making the drinks look interesting and unique so that the customers are more likely to post pictures of them on social media. Thus, free advertising!
What Is Boba?
You’ve probably seen the little balls bouncing about in people’s drinks on social media, but you may have no thought about what boba actually is.
These small, gelatinous balls are known as boba and are commonly used in tea with various names such as boba tea, bubble tea, pearl tea, and tapioca tea – but they are all essentially the same thing.
There are five different types of boba that you will come across including black boba which is the most popular, clear boba, mini boba, flavored tapioca boba, and popping boba.
They are relatively similar in the fact that they are added to drinks such as tea and are edible.
The origination of boba goes as far back as the 1980s in Taiwan and was started by combining tapioca balls, shaved ice, and milk tea.
It was popular with tea vendors because it was much cheaper to use fruit syrups and powders instead of actual fruit that would be expensive to get as well as have a shorter lifespan.
People fell in love with the flavor of the boba and the creaminess of the milk tea that it quickly become a popular drink that expanded worldwide. Boba balls have even been incorporated into sandwiches, cocktails, and skincare.
What Is Boba Made Of?
Boba may vary in ingredients slightly, but they are usually made from the South American cassava root that has the tapioca starch that makes the boba balls have a gelatinous texture, but when boba balls are first harvested, they are hard white and tasteless.
The tapioca starch is boiled and kneaded until it has the same consistency as dough which is then cut and rolled into little spheres before being boiled again in a mixture of water and brown sugar.
You can make these balls big or small with smaller ones being known as mini boba. Mini boba is much easier to drink and sometimes is even small enough to suck through a straw.
Since they are smaller than traditional boba ball sizes, they are easier to chew and faster to cook, and you can fit a lot more in your cup which is an added bonus.
Brown sugar is what gives boba palls their black color and is usually favored for milk-based bubble tea, such as the classic milk tea. This milk tea is what started the boba tea trend with a creaminess that will leave you wanting more and more.
Frothy milk is shaken with black tea, crushed ice, and some caramelized boba balls. Black boba balls can be coated or cooked in a flavored syrup to give them a different flavor such as coconut, aloe, and mango.
Due to their flavor, this variation of black boba balls can also be used as a topper for yogurt and smoothies.
Brown sugar boba tea is another popular choice, especially in Taiwan. It has black boba balls like the classic milk tea variation and has a lot of creamy milk but has a very sweet shot of brown sugar syrup.
Clear boba balls can be found in Taro Milk tea which has a unique color that runs from purple to brown to lilac with a coconut flavor originating from the taro which is a vegetable similar to a sweet potato.
Clear boba balls do not have the same sweet flavor as black boba balls as they are not boiled in brown sugar. Instead, they don’t really have much of a taste on their own, but they do a great job at absorbing the milk and flavors from the tea.
If you don’t like milk, then you may be inclined to order a boba tea that uses fresh fruit to achieve flavors such as lychee, mango, lemon, and tomato.
Additionally, these fruit drinks are accompanied by crunchy passion fruit seeds and watermelon cubes as well as boba balls.
Popping boba balls that are made of seaweed extract and filled with fruit-flavored juices that pop in your mouth as you bite them is a frequent addition to fruit teas.
Popping boba balls are not tapioca because instead of being made from the cassava root, they are made through a chemical reaction to calcium.
This process consists of mixing fruit-flavored juices with powdered sodium alginate before adding it to cold calcium chloride. When bits of water are added, it will cause bubbles to rise to the surface that turns into boba balls.
If you can imagine it, you can make a boba tea out of it. You can have aloe vera, grass jelly, almond jelly, chia seeds, sweet potato balls, and oreo cookies, and much, much more.
Over the years, boba balls have also been experimented with to achieve the variation of flavors you can get today such as cheese, sea salt, chocolate, sichuan pepper, mushroom, and barley.
How To Make Boba
Now that you know what boba is and the types of teas it can be served with, you are probably drooling at the thought of having one as soon as possible.
Because boba tea has become so popular, there is probably a café right around the corner that will satisfy your craving but if you want to make your very own boba tea that has been customized especially for you, then there is a way to do this too.
For the boba balls, you will have to buy them separately because the average person would not have access to the proper ingredients and tools needed to make their own boba balls.
You can order boba balls online which tend to be less chewy but are more affordable, even more so than buying a boba tea at an establishment. You will need to cook the boba balls but will only take about five minutes.
Remember to cook only as many as you need as boba balls will get stiff as they get cooler and will not do well overnight.
To make a classic milk boba tea, you must brew the tea properly and make it much stronger than you would for a normal cup of tea, but make sure that you do not brew it for too long as this can over-extract the flavor which makes the tea cloudier than it should be.
If you are wanting to make a cold brew tea, you must be prepared to leave the tea to brew for 8 to 12 hours and you will need to use more tea than you would if you were hot brewing it.
For hot brewed tea, you must begin by placing the leaves in a French press or brewing pot and heating the water to 350°F, add a 2 ¼ cup of water to the brewing pot and stir a couple of times to saturate the leaves with the water.
Cover the brewing pot for 5 to 6 minutes to let it sit then strain the leaves and put them in the fridge for them to cool down.
If you are wanting to make a cold brew tea, do the same steps as you would with a hot brew tea but pour water that is room temperature into the French press instead of a brewing pot.
Then press the French press plunger so that the tea leaves are just below the surface of the water. Leave the tea leaves at room temperature to steep for 12 hours then strain them and place them in the fridge to cool.
To sweeten your tea, you can buy syrups and other sweeteners online, but you can also easily do it at home. Put some sugar and water in a pan and stir them until they are combined.
Use medium heat while continuing to stir so that all the sugar melts. Once the syrup has come to a boil, leave it to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until it is slightly thicker and let it cool.
Now you can add the boba balls from their cool water with a slotted spoon to the syrup and stir the syrup to coat them.
To get the tea ready to drink, place some of the boba balls at the bottom with some of the syrup, add a cup of chilled or room temperature tea, add some ice, and finally some milk. Mix it all together and add more syrup if it’s not sweet enough.
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