Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Suck frogspawn up a straw: Make Bubble Tea

Remember tapioca, that horrible gloopy stuff they used to serve for pudding at school dinners years ago? Well, here’s a whole new fun and funky way to use it.

Bubble tea was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, but in the last couple of years Bubble Tea shops have been bubbling up all over London. There are two in Chinatown, Cuppacha and Bubbleology, selling every colour and flavour of bubble tea imaginable, from passion fruit to Banoffee Pie, at £3.45 a cup.

But the original bubble tea, or “Pearl Milk Tea”, is easy enough to make at home and is simply this:

Cup of tea + milk + sugar + 'bubbles' (large, black, tapioca pearls)

I served it at my daughter’s 8th birthday party recently and it was a big hit. First of all, it has the gross factor that kids find so appealing. The clumps of slimy, black, gelatinous dots in the tea really do resemble frogspawn. Errgh! Is it really frogspawn? Can you really drink it? Will frogs grow inside my tummy?
by Thomas Dick/CC-BY-SA-2.0
Then there’s the new and surprising sensation as they start to suck. The sweet, milky tea comes up the straw easily but then every so often a bubble is hoovered up and lands in the mouth with a tiny thud. Ooh, that’s feels really weird! After all, you don’t normally suck solid things up a straw.
Then there's the unexpected texture of the bubbles. They're all soft on the outside but then they're like ... chewy. After all, you don’t normally get chewy bits in your cup of tea. (This makes it a snack as well as as drink – takes them a while to munch through those bubbles, you know.)

And finally, well, it just tastes good. It’s actually really nice. Yep, who’d have thought. Frogspawn is delicious.

So, here’s the formula:

You need:
Black Tapioca pearls (you can often buy them in oriental supermarkets or you can buy them on the internet, for example, here).
Big, fat, chunky straws (You can buy here for example)

What you do:
1.Take 7 parts water to 1 part pearls (you need a small handful of pearls per cup of tea).
2. Bring the water to the boil. Add the pearls. Stir.
3. When the pearls float to the top, cover the pan and boil for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to stop them sticking to the pan.
4. Remove from the heat and let the pearls sit, covered, for 30 minutes.
5. Rinse the pearls in cold water.
6. Put the pearls in sugar syrup to sweeten. (sugar syrup = bring one part white sugar, one part brown sugar, and two parts water to boil. Remove from heat and cool.)
7. Store pearls in fridge and warm in hot water when you are ready to use them.
8. Make cups of tea with milk and sugar to taste. Add handful of pearls to each cup. 

Serve the bubble tea in see-through cups or glasses and put the sharp end of the straw downwards for the most effective sucking up of the bubbles!
It's not just a drink. It's an experience.


  1. yer right! boba pretty much looks like frogs spawn! The kiddos in the JrK call the waterbeads fish eggs. How fun!

  2. Fun and kind of gross all at the same time! I guess bubble tea has been around in the states a lot longer than it has been here in the UK.

  3. I really can't imagine what this is like, but I bet my children love it.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsbeKids

  4. I am really impressive on your 8 points!