Boba, seemingly everywhere these days, is everyone’s favorite playful drink. If you haven’t tried it yet, boba are little tapioca spheres that are boiled then added to hot or cold drinks — often milk tea — loaded with brown sugar or other sweeteners, then sucked up through large diameter straws.
What you get when the boba enters your mouth is a delightfully chewy experience, a kind of mash-up of both eating and drinking at once. You can find boba drinks, also known as bubble teas, at many Asian restaurants.
Originating in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble, or pearl teas, made their way to the U.S. in the 1990s via Taiwanese immigrants coming to L.A. Since that time, they have spread across the U.S. and the rest of the world. You can read more about the history of bubble tea here.
Now, I’ve done a few boba videos. The first was how to make a classic bubble milk tea using pre-packaged pearls. I’ve also done a couple of videos where I made the tapioca pearls from scratch, here and here.
For this recipe however, we’re going to be taking a shortcut, making the tapioca pearls not from brown sugar, but from Vietnamese rice paper, or transparent spring roll wrappers. The beauty of this recipe is that it comes together FAST! Ten minutes max and you have your boba drink.
So if you have some spring roll wrappers lying around, you can easily make this playful and delicious drink.
- large bowl
- medium saucepan
- boba straw optional
- 3 sheets rice paper The square ones work best, but the round ones work, too.
- 1/2 C. brown sugar
- 1/2 C. water
- 1/2 tsp. molasses (optional) Skip this if using dark brown sugar.
- 12 oz. whole milk Use any milk to your liking.
Making the boba
- Fill a large bowl with water. Dip the rice paper sheet into the water, rotating to ensure that the entire sheet is wet.
- Lay the dampened rice paper onto a clean flat surface and smooth out any air bubbles. When the rice paper becomes flexible (~30-60 seconds) carefully roll it into a tight cylinder, smoothing out any air bubbles along the way. The finished roll should be approximately 1/2" in diameter. Repeat for the remaining rice paper sheets.
- Spray the blade of a sharp knife lightly with cooking spray. Use a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Cut the rice paper logs into 1/2" pieces.
- In a small saucepan bring a few inches of water to the boil. Add the boba pieces and boil until tender ~1-2 minutes. Taste one to make sure that it's fully cooked and strain with a slotted spoon. Set aside.
- In a skillet and the brown sugar, water, and optional molasses. Stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook 3-5 minutes or until the syrups thickens to the consistency of maple syrup.
- Add the boba to the syrup and stir to coat.
- Add half of the boba brown sugar syrup to the bottom of a glass. Rotate the glass to coat.
- Add a handful of ice and top with milk. Add a straw and drink up.