- October
Posted By : talkingofchinese
Buying a fat straw (in Chinese!) #boba

So, I decided to make my own boba tea.


It’s not the first time I have tried to do this – I once tried to make it with taro (note: taro requires a certain level of expertise, I ended up with a sticky, gluggy mess) – this time, however, I used coconut milk which only requires being able to open a can!

First I boiled the tapioca pearls (which you can buy from an Asian grocer) with black tea. Then I cooled the mixture down with ice, put it in a bottle and added coconut milk.

Then came the hard part. I needed a big enough straw for the tapioca pearls.

It was too early for the boba tea shop near my house to be open (which was probably lucky as it this stage I hadn’t realised the word I had looked up for “straw” in my Chinese dictionary actually meant the kind of straw you feed to cows and make into hay bales).

I put the bottle of tea in my bag and headed off to work deciding to find an open boba tea shop on the way.

While on the train I managed to find the right word for drinking straw (and, even the right measure word – which any Chinese learner will know is a constant struggle where you end up sounding super amateur and just auto defaulting to “个” (“ge”)  for everything).

I eventually found an open boba tea shop, and, repeating what I want to say over and over again in my head I walked up to the store (I get a lot of stage fright when it comes to speaking Chinese. It’s like the nightmare of turning up to school naked except the lack of preparation isn’t something you can fix simply by putting on some clothes, it takes years to be prepared so you just have to go in unprepared every time).

The shop assistant was out the back and the fat boba straws were sitting right in front of me on the counter. I did consider just taking one but the thought of missing this, much prepapared for, language opportunity (not the stealing part) convinced me to wait.

Me: “你 会 说 中文 吗?nǐ huì shuō zhōngwén ma?” (“do you speak Chinese?”)

Her: “会 huì” (“yes” followed by a few other words I didn’t understand)

Me: “我 可以 买 一 支 吸管 wǒ kěyǐ mǎi yī zhī xīguǎn?” (“can I buy a straw?”)

Her: (a lot of words I couldn’t understand, probably indicating some surprise and confusion that I wanted to buy just a straw)

Me: “我 做 茶。。。wǒ zuò chá” (“I make tea…” getting the tea out of my bag)

Her: *laughing* take a straw for free!

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This may seem like a small thing but every little interaction I have in Chinese drives me to keep learning and this one even came with the added bonus of boba tea and who doesn’t like bonus boba tea?!



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  • Hilarious. Okay, I love boba tea. (I love all kinds of tea.) If it didn’t involve cooking, I might try making it.

    You tried TARO? Damn, you are brave.

    • Haha yes, stupidly. Came across a piece of taro root going cheap and thought “hey, I love taro, maybe I can make something with this”. BIG mistake. It was like glue!

      • For the record, taro is supposed to be delicious, though perhaps not as bubble tea. It’s great in soups and stews, for example.

        I think it’s great that you make your own bubble tea but doing it kinda deprives it of a bit of the “cool factor”, I think… Also, I like stabbing the fat straw through the plastic seal. (-:

        • I agree taro is delicious, it’s actually my favourite boba tea flavour, it is just really difficult to make yourself (at least it was for me!)

          Haha breaking the plastic seal with the straw is definitely part of the boba experience 🙂

  • I thought I liked bubble tea till I went to the original place (a branch) that claimed to invent the drink in Taichung, Taiwan. Now I really like bubble tea…well, at that place. xD I give you props for trying to make your own bubble tea. Mad respect.

  • I’m came back to this page because I finally made my own boba tea! It was awesome. Well, not the making it part, that was a pain in the ass. But the tea itself was so delicious that I drank it before I got a photo and tagged you on Instagram. Oops.

    My big straw was too small and the tapioca pearls kept getting stuck, though. Then tea would spray on the keyboard when they got unstuck. Drat. Must find bigger straws.

    • Haha – glad I’m not the only one that’s struggled to find a boba tea sized straw 🙂 Your boba tea looked awesome by the way!

      (Sorry for delay responding to your comments – for some reason my spam filter seems to continuously filter out comments from people even when I have approved comments from them before, annoying!)

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