A little tea, a bit a milk, dash of sweetener, some chewy large tapioca balls, a fat straw and voilà — Chai Bubble Tea! There are so many ways to make bubble tea. With different types of tea, add fruit, different milks, different sweeteners — the combinations are endless. I went with a simple recipe to start off with, but oh sooooo tasty! It doesn’t hurt that I used one of my favorite teas. I’m a huge fan of ice lattes and ice teas — so this is right up my alley. Plus, the bonus fun of sucking up the tapioca pearls.
I started this post about 2 months ago. I had it already and when I was double checking my products, I realized that the Black Tapioca Pearls were not gluten-free. (I also found out the hard way too. I hate when I gluten myself. You would think I would have learned by now.) I tried finding large tapioca pearls that were certified gluten-free — they don’t exist. Which I think is crazy, since its just tapioca. So when you can’t find it, you make it. Right?
I made these cute little homemade tapioca pearls. Rolled them into little pearl size balls (about hundred of them), dyed them blue and dried them overnight. When I got ready to boil them the next day — a few blew up into a million pieces when they hit the boiling water. Yikes! So, I waited a day and tried again. This time, they all basically blew up. Sooooo, that wasn’t going to work.
I had two choices: One — remake the tapioca pearls OR Two — find a gluten-free large tapioca pearl.
I went with option two.
And….I found a gluten-free large tapioca pearl. Now, the reviews commented that these pearls weren’t large and not for bubble tea. But with not many options available, I decided to see for myself. I also contacted the company to see what they said about being gluten-free. When I got my Reese Large Tapioca Pearls — they were definitely not as large as the black tapioca pearls and were a lot smaller than I thought they’d be. But I had them, so I gave them a try.
All in all, it’s the best option I have found to make Bubble Tea at home gluten-free with tapioca pearls. You definitely can use a normal straw and still manage to get a few pearls up the straw. It’s a bit more work when they get stuck. Or you can use a fat straw — and suck up a bunch of pearls up with every sip. I didn’t mind it. Plus, I made them blue with food coloring since they are clear after you boil them. You can make them any color you want. Fun!
When I contacted the manufacturer, this what they said:
“Thank you for contacting World Finer foods about the Reese Tapioca. The only ingredient is Tapioca. It is Gluten Free but produced on a designated line. Although wheat products may be in the facility, they are not used on the same machine as the tapioca.”
Consumer Relations Representative
World Finer Foods | Liberty Richter | InterNatural Foods
- 10 cups water
- ½ cup Reese large tapioca pearls
- 2½ cups chai tea, brewed and chilled
- 2 tablespoon blue agave
- 4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup ice
- Cooking Black Tapioca Pearls
- Bring 10 cups of water to vigorous boil, stir in the tapioca pearls.
- Once the pearls are floating at the top, cover and boil for 25 minutes.
- Turn off heat and keep pearls covered for 25 minutes. (They will be clear, so they are hard to see in the bottom of the pan.)
- Drain pearls in a colander and rinse with cold water to keep the pearls from sticking together.
- Set aside.
- Chai Bubble Tea
- In one 16oz glass, add 4 - 5 tablespoons of cooked tapioca pearls
- In a shaker (blender bottle or cocktail shaker), add 1¼ cups chai tea, 1 tablespoon agave, 2 tablespoons condensed milk and ½ cup of ice. Shake until little bubbles form on the top.
- Pour tea mixture into glass (no ice) and add colorful fat straw.
- Repeat for second 16 oz drink.
After rinsing the pearls, place pearls into a small bowl, cover pearls with water and add a few drops of food coloring of your choice. (I did about 10, but it will depend on the color you want.) The pearls will color in about 15 minutes, but the longer you wait the darker the color will get. Drain in colander. Add your freshly colored pearls to the glass.