Green Tea Bubble Tea

December 29, 2011

My fascination with bubble tea began towards the end of my time as an undergraduate at Purdue. Tucked in the corner, among the shops on Chauncey Hill, a new shop opened. For a while we wondered what this little place was which other students – mostly Asian – were flocking to.

At this point in time, although I was up to my forehead in food and nutrition from an academic perspective, I have to admit I knew nothing of food culture. My husband – then fiancée – convinced me to give it a try and my knowledge of beverages hasn’t been the same since.

I loved the texture and consistency; the almond, coconut and fruit flavors. I loved everything down to the big straws and the chewy bubbles. Simply put, it’s unique; I can’t think of anything like it in the U.S. In fact, most people I know would be turned off by chewing their beverages.

Bubble tea has been difficult to find since then. We were exposed to many more bubble drinks when we traveled around Southeast Asia a few years ago, but I’ve been interested in making my own to compensate for the lack of access here.
So when I was flipping through the cookbook Cooking WithoutBorders by Anita Lo with Charlotte Druckman, the Green Tea Bubble Tea caught my eye. Not only was this my chance to make it, but this version just happens to be a cocktail. And what better time for a cocktail than while ringing in the New Year?

Regardless of whether or not you like bubble tea – or even cocktails – this cookbook deserves some exploring. The fusion Lo creates in her recipes is remarkable. Take, for example, the Barbecued Squid with Edamame and Boiled Peanuts, Chilled Grapefruit and Ginger Soup with Sweet Avocado Mousse or Turkey with Spicy Black Beans in Tofu Dumplings.

The cookbook includes all types of meats from pork to rabbit, but it is the seafood dishes that stand out to me. You’ll find several varieties of ceviche, soft shell crab and halibut. The cocktail section is small, but unexpected and original, from the Celery-Dill Martini to this bubble tea.

In the book, Lo describes the drink as an Asian White Russian. I couldn’t agree more, and White and Black Russians just happen to be some of my favorite cocktails. I searched for green tea powder here with no success. Therefore, I brewed strong green tea and made that into the green tea syrup.

This is a strong, but sweet drink ending with the chewy bubbles. If nothing else, the black bubbles in the bottom of your cocktail will serve as a conversation starter.

Happy New Year!

Green Tea Bubble Tea
From Cooking Without Borders by Anita Lo, reprinted with permission from Abrams Books

For the green-tea simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup green-tea powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup boiling water

For each drink:
2 tablespoons black bubble-tea
bubbles, cooked, strained, and
rinsed according to package
Splash of amaretto
2 ounces vodka
1½ ounces green-tea simple syrup, or
to taste
2 ounces milk
Make the green-tea simple syrup: Whisk the sugar with the green-tea
powder and salt until no clumps remain. Slowly add the boiling water,
whisking constantly until dissolved. Strain if necessary to remove clumps.
Let cool.

Make the drink: Combine the cooked “bubbles” with the amaretto in a
rocks glass and fill with ice. Put the vodka, green-tea simple syrup, and
milk in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the rocks glass.
Serve with a wide straw.

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  • Rachel December 29, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Wow! Sounds Delicious!

  • Velva December 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I have enjoyed bubble tea- and its delicious. You did such a nice job representing this typical Asian beverage.

    You can learn a lot about food academically but when you experience food through culture it brings it to a new level.

    Happy New Year to you!


    Your comment on my facebook page was right on! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) December 30, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    you even prepared your own bubble tea, that is amazing. usually we can easily get this from the market.. Happy New Year 2012 to you.

  • JonathanN December 31, 2011 at 3:28 am

    So simple and so perfect! Yammy! Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Camenisch December 31, 2011 at 7:26 am

    This looks fabulous! I love bubble tea and am so frustrated that it is hard to fine in Lexington. My sister who went to college in Chicago introduced it to me and I’ve been hooked ever since. Where do you find the “bubbles”?

  • Fresh Local and Best December 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I love bubble tea for the fun chewy textures that you do not expect from a beverage. This looks like a really fun one with the splash of liqueur. Happy New Year Lori!

  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance January 1, 2012 at 7:11 am

    My husband and I used to get bubble tea after work when we first started dating. Haven’t had it in ages and I definitely never thought about it as a cocktail!

  • OysterCulture January 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I have a love hate relationship with bubble tea – some is just delicious and others are so sickly sweet that its jut not to my taste. I need to try your version as I’ve never had it in an adult beverage before.

  • Marianne (frenchfriestoflaxseeds) January 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Living on the west coast, you can find bubble tea around every corner here. I think the only restaurants we have more of at sushi restaurants and Starbucks. HA! I would have never thought to make my own bubble tea though. I’m going to have to look out for the tapioca pearls next time I’m at the Asian market.

    PS – Taro is my favourite flavour!

  • Joanne January 3, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Though we had a very rocky start (it took me a bit to get used to the texture of the tapioca balls), bubble tea and I are now the best of friends! I’ve never made it at home but I’d LOVE to try this recipe!

  • Lori January 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Rachel – It is!

    Velva – That is so true. Thanks.

    Sonia – I would love to have easy access too it.

    Amy – I’ve seen that there is a new place in Lexington, Honnah I think. Haven’t been yet, though. I used black tapioca pearls. I was able to find them at Yu Yu Asian market on Waller near campus.

    Fresh Local and Best – I agree. I love the chewy bubbles!

    Michelle – I hadn’t a cocktail version before either. It was a unique twist.

    OysterCulture – I have to agree with you. I have had a version or too that is a bit too sweet for my taste.

    Marianne – I’m jealous!

    Joanne – Yeah, it took me a while to get used to it. They grew on me!

  • Terra December 30, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I honestly have never had bubble tea, but now I am for sure interested. It really sounds delicious, and I love the idea of the tea as a cocktail. Thank you for sharing the recipe book. My husband loves Asian cuisine, so he would adore this book. I love squid, so I love the barbecued squid recipe! Take care, Terra