Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tea Please!

Before my trip to Shenzhen, China, I had only enjoyed tea Southern style- iced and sweet.
My palate for tea grew leaps and bounds in China. I learned of the poplularity of hot tea. It was hard for me to get used to it at first because I am not accustomed to drinking warm beverages except for coffee and hot chocolate and those are only for special occasions in the winter.
Ling who works at the St. Regis hotel where I was preparing Southern cuisine for two weeks, told us that we needed to experience a tea market. There we sampled a variety of hot teas including red, green, and black. I liked the lychee tea because it had sweet notes. It was definitely a learning experience for example, green tea is steeped differently than black tea. The temperature of the water can effect the flavor of the tea.
I have only seen tea ground and in a tea bag. I never knew of using tea leaves to make tea until I saw the process at the tea market. Ling explained to my mom and I that when choosing the tea leaves, look for ones that are not bruised and withered. The best flavor is going to come from the quality tea.
My mom and I were walking back from lunch with Ling when we passed by a street vendor that served what Ling called milk tea. I wasn't sure that I would like milk in my tea. I am adventureous though and once I saw there was a chocolate flavor, I was in. My mom chose the coconut flavor
I was surprised when I received the milk tea to find black balls at the bottom of my cup. Ling explained that they were black tapioca pearls which makes it bubble or boba milk tea. The straws are extra large so that when you sip your milk tea, you also get a treat of a chewy tapioca ball. I would say the texture is similar to a gummy worm. I really enjoyed it. It was a fun drinking experience.
After returning to the states, I wanted to replicate this fun drink for my friends and family. I lucked up and found the extra large straws at an Asian market in Hattiesburg, MS. I googled a few recipes and then put my own twist to them.
For a Southern presentation, I served the bubble milk tea in mason jars.
I used green tea and served coconut milk tea and chocolate milk tea. For the tapioca pearls, I chose the white and multi-color because the black pearls can be kind of scarey.
My recipes:
Chocolate Bubble Milk Tea
1 cup steeped green tea, chilled *black tea can be substituted
1 cup chocolate milk
prepared tapioca pearls

Combine the tea and milk in a blender and blend for a minute. *If more sweetness is desired, add a little condensed milk to the milk and tea mixture and blend. Spoon some of the tapioca pearls into a mason jar or cup and pour the frothy chocolate milk tea over the tapioca. Serve with the extra large straws.
Serves 3 to 4 ppl

Coconut Bubble Milk Tea
1 cup steeped green tea, chilled
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut cream
prepared tapioca pearls
Combine the tea, coconut milk, and cream in a blender and blend for a minute. *If more sweetness is desired, add more coconut cream to the milk and tea mixture and blend. Spoon some of the tapioca pearls into a mason jar or cup and pour the frothy coconut milk tea over the tapioca. Serve with the extra large straws.
Serves 3 to 4 ppl

If you would like to experience milk tea before attempting to make it yourself, visit Mocha Blues in D'Iberville, MS or Bubble Valley in Crestview, FL. Share other places that offer milk tea in the comment section. I would love to visit other locations that serve this tea treat!


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  2. The best thing about travelling I think is discovering new things like this, or better yet, new ways of doing things.

    I love hot tea, especially in the winter - green tea and peppermint tea are my favourites. My mom taught me how to make apple tea this past winter too, and it's quickly becoming a 3rd favourite!

    I have heard of bubble tea but never tried it before, though I'm very tempted right now. The coconut flavour is first on my list (I love coconut!) - I just found a great recipe for homemade coconut milk earlier too so this is perfect timing!

    Wishing you a great day today!

  3. What a nice experience for you, Whitney. Other food cultures do seem different when we are not familiar with them. Some just totally amaze me. We used to go to this Authentic Gourmet Chinese Restaurant in Charlotte, NC when we lived there. The food was contrary to what I was used to, but so fantastic!!! Enjoy your journey!!!

  4. I absolutely love drinking tea an these sound fabulous! Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. I was in china some years ago,i have try many kind of tea
    I was surpriced by the taste and flavour. My favourite is jasmine flavored tea

  6. Here in Malaysia we call it bubble tea. And we can mix just about everything in it. Pearl, pudding, chocolate etc. Yummy! By the way Whitney, bubble tea is made from milk essence that's why it is more creamier and one cannot achieve the same creamy taste by using regular milk

  7. I just finished the first season of MC US and I just have to say you are one of the cutest girls I've ever seen!

    You have an immense passion when it comes to food, truly awesome!

    Hope to see great things from you.

    Best of luck!

  8. you should check out taro bubble tea! it's so good and the flavor is very distinct (and very unique to asian culture food!)

  9. Hi Whitney, I'm from Taiwan, where bubble/boba/pearl milk tea was created! I'm glad you enjoyed your bubble milk tea and you can try soaking your boba pearls in honey next time before you add it to the milk tea...I guarantee they'll taste amazing!