Ch. 11: Boba and the Little Black Balls of Fury

I’ll be the first to admit that I love boba, or “bubbly tea” as it’s called here. I went to college in San Francisco where there are just as many boba shops as there are parking meters. Guam’s got it’s fair share as well, with tons of great options whenever you’re feeling a craving.- which for me, is quite often. Unfortunately with lockdown, my family and I had been hesitant at that point to do much take-out, leaving boba as something I likely wouldn’t be able to get. The idea of making it myself didn’t actually cross my mind until a cousin had posted about it in her instagram story. Some Youtube research later, and I found out that it only took about 3 ingredients and didn’t seem to be that difficult to make after all. Boy was I confident. The recipe for boba that I used was a combination of Emmy Made in Japan as well as Inga Lam. Emmy provided the actual measurements while Inga gave me some additional guidance to help me along the way. Emmy’s a food Youtuber who does a lot of baking projects where she tries out obscure and downright weird recipes- everything from Transparent Lemon Pie to Velveeta Cheesecake to (literal) Dirt Cookies. Meanwhile, Inga is a Buzzfeed / Tasty producer who’s really come into her own on her Youtube channel where she shares great recipes like this one.

 Interestingly, boba is made up of tapioca starch, water and brown sugar- that’s it! The brown sugar and water are mixed together into a syrup to which tapioca starch is added, creating a thick paste- almost like playdough. It then gets rolled out (just like playdough) into thick boba ropes- almost like udon. I then got to work portioning out that rope and rolling them into little balls which proved more difficult than I thought. For the life of me, these little guys just wouldn’t become spherical, so I carried along until they were as good as they could get. The “balls” (and that’s using the term lightly) get boiled until tender and then soaked in ice water to gain chewiness (shoutout to Inca for that little tip). At the end of it, they were a little misshapen, bigger than normal and not nearly as black due to my refusal to add food coloring. I can see why people just buy these from an Asian market. 

But homemade boba is only as good as the drink it’s served in- right? I ditched the brown sugar drink that the original recipe called for, thinking it would be too sweet and instead went to a homemade strawberry milk that I’d seen online. That too was simple to put together, using more of the large vat of frozen strawberries i had on hand. The thawed strawberries were mashed to keep some of that chunkiness then cooked down with sugar until thick. With that done, I assembled my glass starting with the homemade boba and then topping it off with spoonfuls of the strawberry syrup and ice. I poured over the milk and gave it a good stir, loving the effect of all the layers being incorporated. The resulting drink was delicious and completely satisfied my boba craving. Looks and shape aside, the tapioca pearls had the same chewiness and flavor of traditional boba and were well complimented by the refreshing strawberry milk that was as good as it sounds. I can’t say that I’d be making my own boba very often, but until we’re given the all clear, I’d definitely give these little balls of fury another try.

Boba Method | Reciple from Emmy Made in Japan

Boba Method | Recipe from Inga Lam

Strawberry Milk Recipe | Method from HANSE

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