My coworkers and I have been spending a ridiculous amount of money on bubble tea at the independent zen tea shop across the street. While we love the place and like to support the owners I wondered how difficult it could be to make my own bubbles. I did a little research and a few days later a brick of tapioca bubbles landed on my doorstep.
Tapioca bubbles are basically tapioca starch and caramel coloring pressed together in fragile little powdery pellets. I cooked about 2 cups of them in water (with plenty of room to swim, just like pasta), and then turn the heat off and let them sit covered for a half hour. At the same I prepared a sugar syrup with white and brown sugar. when thebubbles are cooked they need to be drained and rinsed. Some of the bubbles dissolve so when they're done they're sitting in a gelatinous black mass. Once they're coated with the sugar syrup they look like this:
If you go to a bubble tea stand or a tea shop you can get all kinds of flavorings and mix-ins and sweeteners added to many different tea bases. Personally, I like regular old black tea with no flavorings and maybe a little milk. The tapioca bubbles in their syrup are fairly sweet, so I usually don't add extra sweetener. Here's the green tea with vanilla soymilk (and bubbles) that I made for myself:
The bubbles stay firm, so you need a special wide straw to suck them up. Sometimes they get stuck:
Bringing them to work, they looked like a science experiment: