There are two types of people in this world: those who go through bubble tea withdrawal every few days, and those who vehemently hate the drink. The latter will shudder at the chewiness of the tapioca pearls, and complain about how drinks should not be "lumpy". I have a hard time understanding this textural phobia, but to each his own.
As for me, when in need of a cold drink and an afternoon snack, I like to kill two birds with one stone.
Or maybe three birds with one stone, if you need a cold drink, an afternoon snack, and a jolt of caffeine at the same time. Few caffeine sources taste better than cafe sua da, or iced Vietnamese coffee. While New York's early summer is not quite as oppresive as Hanoi's, it feels pretty close. So lately, I have been making Vietnamese coffee bubble "tea" to help with the humidity and afternoon slump.
Try this out you're also a bubble tea fan and caffeine addict. Here's what you need:
1. Good coffee - Trung Nyugen is the most popular Vietnamese brand in the US, and available in most big Chinese supermarkets. Cafe du Monde's Dark Roast with Chicory is also a good choice. Lately I have also been experimenting with Trader Joe's New Orlean-Style Coffee with Chicory.
2. Sweetened condensed milk - I use Longevity brand sweetened condensed milk (fewer preservatives than others, including Nestle and Black & White.)
3. Tapioca pearls - The big ones are a little harder to find than the itty bitty ones normally used in Southeast Asian desserts, but not impossible to seek out. In New York, try Pearl River Mart or the M2M on 3rd Ave. between 10th and 11th.
4. A good Vietnamese coffee filter - In a pinch, you can also use a French press.
6. Nice, thick bubble tea straws - Also available at Pearl River Mart, M2M, and a few other supermarkets in Chinatown.
To make your Vietnamese Coffee Boba Drink:
1. With the Vietnamese coffee filter, you'll want to use about 2 tablespoons of coffee for every cup of liquid, or 1 1/2 tablespoons if you prefer your coffee weaker. Here are some instructions on how to use one. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk (depending on how much sugar you like) into the glass before letting the coffee drip. (If you're using a French press, stir in the sweetened condensed milk either before or adding the boba pearl in step 3.)
2. Cook the boba pearls according to package instructions. They will range anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the pearl size. Spoon the boba pearls into a tall glass.
3. Pour the coffee into another large glass of ice or even a martini shaker to cool down the liquid. Strain into your drinking glass with the boba pearls inside. Stir and add straw.
More summery drinks to try: