Saturday, February 19, 2011


Do you ever get to taste something while out of town, or read about some kind of food, and then get a craving for the most inconvenient thing? I do, all the time. It's no secret that I like food, and it's not exactly the easiest thing to deal with. It's usually something only available in one place far away (Cafe du Monde Latte in New Orleans, Pizza at Arnold's in St. Louis) or it's something you may have somewhere in town, but a place you never go or even think of going until you are nowhere near it. I have a couple of these things, but the one I tackled the other day was bubble tea.

OK, I realize bubble tea is one of those fad drinks that get popular and then fizz away after a while, but doggone it, I was intrigued. There is a place somewhere in Madison that sells it, but I am never over there long enough to try and find it. I happened to find a box of tapioca pearls while shopping at Earth Fare, and thought "It can't be that hard!" So I brought them home and got to work on figuring out A) exactly what bubble tea is and B) how to make it.

Like frog eggs in a milkshake, really.

OK, from what I could tell, bubble tea is a drink made of some kind of flavored drink powder and has a layer of tapioca "pearls" at the bottom of the cup. The tapioca adds a textural element, and that's about it. You are supposed to drink it with a big straw. You know, it didn't sound so adventurous when I found out what it was, but it was too late. I was determined to have it!

I didn't have any drink powder, and wasn't going to order it on the off chance that I'd hate the drink, so I opted to mix my own milk tea (black tea, almond milk, heavy cream) for the job. Making the drink part wasn't difficult, but making the stupid tapioca was! I mean, it wasn't complicated in the traditional sense, you are just boiling them after all. However, they are sticky and slimy and they stick to the bottom of the pot if you leave them alone for a second longer than the directions say! I stood over the stove, stirring the gloopy mess, for about 30 minutes. I was scared to leave it alone because the one time I stepped back to the computer to see if I was doing something right, I almost lost the entire pot. I don't mean the contents of the pot, I mean the pot. That stuff is like gorilla snot, it sticks to everything! After a while, it looked like a pot of boiling syrup, and I was afraid I had ruined it, but I kept on. I added blue food coloring (the first thing that I came across) to see if I had completely destroyed the spheres, but they were still in there. After they boiled the correct amount of time, I had to strain them and rinse them off to get rid of the goo. It turned out that they were fine! The little blue spheres were there. They looked like frog eggs with white centers, but they were there. Looking like frog eggs. Frog eggs that I was supposed to put at the bottom of a drink I was going to actually consume. Frog eggs.

My Tapioca Pearls


Bleh. So, I took the frog- I mean tapioca pearls and put them in agave syrup and water. Then I sat and looked at them for a while. Seriously, how could I eat them? I can't eat things that feel weird, and these were most definitely weird. Little slimy, blue, gluey balls made of starch. Even the thought of them was weird! WHY? Why did I need to eat them? It wasn't like anyone had to know. I could just throw away the container of faux amphibian spawn and no one would be the wiser, right?

Of course, after some thought I decided that I wasn't going to let them go to waste, because gosh darn it, I'd almost sacrificed a good pot to the things! It was no longer just something I wanted to taste, it was a principle. So I plopped (and yes, they make the actual sound of 'plop') into a cup and poured my latte over the mess. It looked just like the picture and it didn't smell bad, so I dove straight in.

Honestly, I really liked it. I mean, sure the tapioca balls are slimy, and you have to suck them up with a straw, and yes you have to chew your it's a weird sensation, but I liked it! The tapioca becomes flavored by the drink, and as long as you don't accidentally suck one down your throat without chewing it, it is kind of interesting. Also, you get super full when you drink these things; probably because of the starch, so if you decide to try them, don't get it before you go out on a dinner date. It's probably not something you'd want every day, and kids would probably like it, unless they puke at the slightest hint of weird textures.

So, my adventure was a success. I wish I had taken some pictures of the process, but I couldn't leave my boiling pot of frog eggs long enough to get the camera. I have since remembered that I probably didn't need to worry about whether I'd like the drink or not, because in 1997, I was one of the 12 people in the world who actually liked Orbitz soda.

Almost exactly the same except that it was soda,
the balls floated and, in hindsight, it tasted really gross.


1 comment:

Lady Gargle said...

I love love love bubble tea! :)