How to boil boba properly + tales of disasters

boba tea recipe

I wanted to make boba for a potluck and remembered my mom used to make them. She just boiled them for 5-10 minutes and voila, easy boba! I bought a bag from Chinatown, which had zero instructions. You can see where this is going..

Attempt 1:
Chef Uy dumps pearls into pot of water as it's heating up. Chef Uy realizes the boba won't be tender and chewy for the potluck if they sit overnight. Chef Uy calls B in a panic "should I leave them half boiled and finish tomorrow... or boil them all the way and let them be hard?" B says "freeze them." Undecided, Chef Uy turns the stove off...then on...then off...

While Chef Uy confusedly pondering what to do, the pearls disintegrate and congeals into one massive pot shaped boba.

Attempt 1.5
Chef Uy tests "presoaking pearls." Pearls disintegrate in cold water into a powdery mess.

Attempt 2:
Chef Uy realizes pearls needed to be adding AFTER water is already boiling. She adds pearls and gets ready for potluck party by showering. While on high heat, pearls on bottom burn to a crisp.

Attempt 2.5:
Chef Uy removes burnt pearls. Chef Uy ultimately realizes these pearls are not instant, but the traditional kind which takes 2 hrs to cook. Chef Uy has to bring half cooked pearls to potluck and continues cooking at party for another 1 hr, stirring vigorously. Pearls are no longer round, but sheared like RBC shistocytes, because Chef Uy's big biceps stirred them too violently.

Attempt 3
Success... except pearls don't show up in photographs because they're clear.

Although during his ordeal, I swore I would only get instant boba next time, after eating the "real boba," you can't compare. As a bonus, this kind of boba seems to keep much longer and doesn't harden in the fridge for several days!

2 cups water
1/4 cup boba (non instant)
1/4 cup brown sugar / honey (to taste)

Boba: Add 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba in a pot. Add honey/sugar to taste. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and continue boiling until they have expanded (~20 min)

Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 60-90 minutes. Add water if necessary and stir occasionally. When the pearls are clear (no more white starch) they are done. Turn heat off, cover, and let the pearls sit for another hr to continue cooking and cool.

Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba.

Boba 101 Notes:
- Use a large and shallow is better for even cooking (so pearls are one layer)
- Even if the center isn't fully cooked all the way (still a white dot in the center), once the outside is really soft, you can stop cooking. The texture will be soft enough
- Stir as little as possible (just enough that they don't stick) to avoid breaking the boba
I- t's better to let the boba simmer for a long time rather than blast with high heat to speed up/shortcut the process. Patience...

Drink ideas
Milk Tea Boba: Prepare a strong cup of black tea. Add almond milk and honey.
Chai Tea Boba: Prepare a strong cup of chai tea. Add condensed milk, milk, and cinammon.
Green Tea Boba: Prepare a strong cup of green tea. Add honey and/or mint leaves.

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