Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea - Weekend Herb Blogging #242

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea

Break out the bubbly, the bubble tea bubbly, I mean. This is my first post in I don't know how long - the early days of July? It's been so hatefully hot and humid that I have rarely been in the kitchen. Neither eating nor cooking have much appeal to me. I know. You will tell me to just suck it up. Well, I have. I sucked several up, actually, from a sweating-cold glass as tall as a skyscraper. Giant tapioca pearls taste like nothing, but chew like nothing else. If you like gummy bears, you will find this refreshing Asian concoction of stunningly sweet, fruity milk tea addictive. And even if you can't ferret out the funky wide straws which make you look like you've just survived the golden ticket tour of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, a long-handled spoon works just fine for excavating every last sticky black marble. Who said bottom feeding is beneath one's dignity?

Black Tapioca Pearls

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea - My own recipe

Makes 2 large glasses, approximately 16 ounces each.


1/2 cup large dried black tapioca pearls*
Water to cook tapioca pearls

Sugar Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1 cup very strongly brewed Formosa Oolong tea, chilled
1 cup peach nectar, chilled
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, chilled (You can also use condensed, sweetened milk; if so, you will not need additional sugar.)
Additional castor sugar or sugar syrup to taste
2 cups ice cubes


In a medium-to-large saucepan, heat to boiling enough water to deeply cover tapioca pearls. (As big as they are, they will expand to 2-3 times their original size. Consult the cooking directions on your specific package, which vary by brand. I used one labeled "Ready in 5 Minutes," but it took 3o minutes. Some brands may take longer. As a general rule, the longer it is cooked, the softer the centers will be. Overcooking, however, will turn it into gelatinous mush. These directions are for the brand I used.)

Pour tapioca into boiling water. They will drop to the bottom of saucepan. Stir briefly to prevent sticking. Cover saucepan and boil for exactly 5 minutes. During this time, prepare the sugar syrup by combining sugar and water is a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved (also 5 minutes). Remove from heat and reserve, keeping it warm.

Return to the tapioca. Turn the heat off and peak inside the saucepan. Tapioca should be floating on the surface. If not, stir gently to dislodge it from the bottom and sides of saucepan. Cover the saucepan again and let the pearls continue to cook in the stored heat of the water for 25 minutes. Do not turn the heat back on. The additional 25 minutes are necessary whether they are floating or need to be lifted.

In meantime, pour all other ingredients and ice into blender or cocktail shaker. Before you agitate, return to the tapoica pearls, draining them in a large mesh strainer. Pour them into the saucepan that holds the warm sugar syrup, insuring they are fully covered with it. If using a blender, its highest speed will grind the ice until fine, smooth, and loose granules form. Divide tapioca into two tall glasses, adding some sugar syrup with each spoonful. Pour the blended mixture on top of tapioca in each glass. Though they will settle in time, the bubbles on top of the drink create a fanciful mantle of foam to suspend the thick straw in. If the foam is too thin, return just the liquid contents to blender, adding another 1/3 cup almond milk before whipping the mixture on the highest setting. Again pour into glasses. Taste for additional sugar. Though bubble tea is traditionally very sweet, you can incrementally add just enough sugar to suit you, either by stirring in small amounts of caster sugar or the sugar syrup that held the tapioca. I find that a generous amount of sugar intensified all the subtle and unique flavors of peach, oolong, and almond milk. Leftovers may be saved in the refrigerator. Since the pearls become hard when cold, they can be scooped into a small saucepan of hot water to restore their softness and elasticity.

* Dried black tapioca pearls are available online or in Chinese and Thai grocers, and can occasionally be found in other Asian retailers. Cassava root, from which this is made, is naturally white. Bubble tea tapioca is often colored for novelty.

Peach Oolong Almond Milk Bubble Tea
Since tapioca is made from cassava, a highly versatile vegetable that much of the world relies on for their daily diet, this is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging #242. I have the pleasure of hosting this week and expect to have the round-up online on Monday, July 19. There is still time for those who are interested in joining. Full details can be found over at Cook Almost Anything at Least Once, the home of Haalo, mistress of WHB. Thanks to Haalo for the offering me another stint as host, and thanks to all who have already sent me your great recipes.


  1. That bubble tea looks so good and your clicks are splendid!



  2. That is too funny. I just left another blog that posted about bubble tea. Check it out at Marys Blog; sounds yummy too. I've never had this drink. Now I'm sure I have to try this.

  3. I have never seen those giant tapioca pearls. I like your description: they "taste like nothing, but chew like nothing else." And, of course, I love your photos, always bringing to vivid life, for our pleasure, what you have made.

  4. TH will love this, thanks for sharing this recipe. Perfect way to chill out..

  5. Looks delicious never had anything like this

  6. Dear Susan,

    Once again, I am truly dazzled by your impressive display and brilliant description of the bubble tea, I wish I could have some right now!

  7. Susan, a very new recipe and lot of new ingredients. Never heard, saw or cooked with black tapioca, thanks for introducing it.

  8. Ooo, thanks for this! I have to agree that it's super sweet--the one time I got it at a Thai restaurant, it was a little overwhelming. As much as I enjoy sweet things, it's nice to be able to dial down the sugar some.

  9. what a yummy concoction!!! beautiful color, too.

  10. Yummy! Btw, I love that you do lovely ingredient shots.

  11. Lovely photos! Bubble tea sounds delicious, now to hunt down those tapioca pearls...

  12. Wow, great job here. Awesome picture too! You should really consider submitting this to Recipe4Living's Summertime Sipper Contest! It looks delicious!

  13. This is just delightful Susan. I drink a lot of bubble tea where I come from, and I must say your peach oolong almond concoction sounds and looks so good - it'll give our local vendors a run for their money hehe

  14. Thanks, Rosa!

    Carla & Michael - Thanks. Boba tea is one of those guilty adult pleasures, like watching Saturday morning cartoons. : ) I'll go pop over to Mary's site for a read of her post.

    Thanks, Simona. Giant tapioca is hard to find, although any city w/ a large Chinese community likely has these tea shops. I had to get the pearls and the wide straws online. I made the purchases on a hunch that I would like the beverage, but only if I made it from scratch rather than use the artificial creamer, colored & flavored powders used commercially.

    Hi, RV. - Thanks. It is very refreshing and really distracts you from the heat.

    Akheela - Thank you. One of the nicest things about blogging is the discovery of something new. : )

    Thanks so much, Esra. I wish I could share with you. I made enough to refresh a small gathering.

    Priya - The texture of these large pearls is different than the typical small white ones most commonly available.

    Hi, Ruhama. I agree. It is *very* sweet, which probably neutralizes some of those ultra-hot Thai curries, but is a bit of a shock on its own.

    Hello, M. Thanks. And the color is natural, too.

    Xiaolu - Thank you. I enjoy shooting ingredients best; they have a unique natural beauty and texture, ideal for still lifes.

    welcome, Marisa! Thanks so much. A well-stocked Chinese grocer is your best bet outside of online.

    Thank you, Sophia.

    Wiffy - Thanks! I'd like to try it with the popular lychee next. : }

  15. I need to try bubble tea still! Your photos are beautiful!! I really hope you will submit this recipe and more to my new "vegan finds" site:


  16. i love how you came up with such a brilliant recipe! love the oolong and almond milk combo. i would die for anything with almond!