As a student, Thi Luu had a tumbler-a-day habit for bubble tea, going out to buy the Taiwanese drink nearly daily. When you factor in size upgrades, all the different toppings, and even the time you spend waiting in line, it all adds up.
When last year’s lockdown caused her nearest boba shop to close, Luu resorted to making tea herself. Now she’s sharing the recipes she developed and ingredients she used through Boba Barista, a new Australian business delivering bubble tea kits to your home.
“If you can make a cup of coffee or a packet of ramen, you’ll definitely be able to make bubble tea,” she tells Broadsheet.
It starts with putting your ingredients into a shaker or tumbler with hot water. The second step is to add ice and shake. Finally, you add toppings and the drink is ready.
“It’s just really fun to make at home,” Luu says. “It’s something that you can share with your friends and family, kind of like when people come over and you offer them tea or coffee, but with bubble tea at home instead.”
Boba Barista specialises in DIY bubble tea kits that have all the ingredients you need to make the drinks. Fruit teas come with tea bags, fruit syrups and fructose, while the milk tea ingredients depend on the flavour: either tea bags or powders, plus non-dairy creamer and fructose. They start at $19.95 for eight serves and go up to $54.95 for 33 serves – around $1.70 a serve.
There are 19 flavours available in the kits, with creamy flavours such as roasted oolong, Earl Grey, jasmine, taro, matcha and Thai milk teas, and fruit teas in mango, strawberry, lychee and passionfruit.
You can also buy all the ingredients separately, as well as toppings and mix-ins: choose from the signature tapioca pearls; mango, grape, coconut or lychee jellies; and popping pearls flavoured with passionfruit, green apple, strawberry, mango or lychee.
All the ingredients are sourced from Taiwan, considered the home of bubble tea. “We also tried ingredients from other countries, but it just wasn’t the same,” Luu says. “I guess [Taiwan is] the master of bubble tea, so it makes sense to order from the professionals.”
And they’re versatile, too – Luu uses the fruit syrups in milkshakes and the matcha powder to flavour whipped cream in Japanese fruit sandos.
Other items in Boba Barista’s store include a double-walled bubble tea tumbler with straw; a shaker set with a stirrer, sieve and measuring jug; and 10 bamboo straws plus a cleaning brush.
“I think the appeal [of bubble tea] is the different textures – you get to eat and drink at the same time, which is kind of a unique phenomenon,” she says. “But it’s also pretty nostalgic – it used to be a reward or treat after a long day of school, or doing my homework.”
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