Update 08/08/2020: This recipe was updated to use hand-rolled pearls specifically meant for frozen treats to ensure they stay soft even after being frozen instead of regular tapioca boba pearls.
These boba milk tea popsicles are a refreshing way to enjoy your well-loved milk tea bubble tea with chewy hand-rolled boba pearls specifically made for frozen treats.
Bubble tea, bubble milk tea, boba milk tea, pearl milk tea, bbt are all different names for the same drink. The squishy, chewy tapioca pearls are so addictive and I always love tea flavours, milk teas, and oh my gawd especially slushes. They are perfect in popsicle form, especially for the summer!
I may or may not be mildly obsessed with bubble tea (or boba if you're American). I mean, I do live in Vancouver and bubble tea is a Vancouver staple. Having tried the boba milk tea in Taiwan where the drink originated, I'm still convinced that Vancouver has some of the best boba in the world.
How to keep boba soft in popsicles
The chewy black boba pearls you get in drinks are made from tapioca starch or cassava. While these are delicious warm or at room temperature, once you freeze tapioca pearls, they become hard. Obviously not ideal if you're trying to make popsicles or ice cream!
If you want pearls that are still soft after being in the freezer, you will need to roll your own pearls and make them using glutinous rice flour instead of tapioca starch. You know how the mochi wrapper in ice cream-filled mochi remains soft straight out of the freezer? That's essentially what you're making but in round pearl form. Rolling your own pearls does take some time and patience but it's worth it.
How to make boba pearls for popsicles
Important note: the pearls in this recipe are ONLY to be used for frozen treats like popsicles or ice cream. They are a different texture from tapioca pearls. Stick to regular tapioca pearls for drinks or desserts at room temperature.
In a small bowl, stir together the glutinous rice flour, brown sugar, and hot water until it becomes a thick paste.
Flour your hands and pinch off small bits of the dough and roll them between your fingers into small balls that are slightly smaller than regular boba pearls. Remember these will expand slightly once cooked. Put rolled pearls into a bowl with glutinous rice flour to coat to prevent them from sticking to each other.
The dough is very sticky so the easiest way I found was to flour both my fingers and a surface with glutinous rice flour. Pinch off bits of dough and quickly drop them down on the floured surface. Once I have lots of bits of dough on the surface and they've been sitting there for several minutes to "dry out", go back in with floured fingers and roll them into balls.
Drop the pearls into a pot of boiling water and give it a stir immediately. The water will bubble up after a couple of minutes so either place a chopstick across the top of the pot or watch it carefully. Boil the pearls until they float to the surface, about 4-5 minutes. Strain the pearls from the water and return them to the empty pot or a small saucepan.
Add brown sugar and water to the cooked pearls and heat on medium heat. Boil in the brown sugar syrup for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and coats the pearls.
Spoon the pearls into the popsicle molds and top with the milk tea mixture or the other way around, as long as the pearls are mixed throughout so that they don't clump at the bottom of the mold.
How to make creamy boba milk tea popsicles
The key to making any popsicle creamy rather than icy is the addition of heavy cream. The high fat content of heavy cream in this recipe prevents large ice crystals from forming when the popsicles are frozen. So no, these boba popsicles are definitely not healthy. Sorry, not sorry.
Why you'll love this recipe
- These boba milk tea popsicles have a strong tea flavour and are super refreshing to eat
- If you don't like pearls, you can just leave them out and make milk tea popsicles that taste just as good on their own
- They are super creamy thanks to the heavy cream
- You can have a boba milk tea popsicle every day of the week when you're craving boba - no need to go out and buy a drink!