Ever wondered what those colorful beverages dotted with dark tapioca balls in the big clear plastic cups are? They are called boba drinks, or bubble teas. With origins in Taiwan, boba drinks are typically consumed through wide straws that carry the tapioca balls from the cup into the mouth. The balls, chewy and gummy, add texture to a sweet cold drink. On Sept. 24, Northside Library hosted a teen food program called DIY Boba where about 38 teens learned how to make this Asian beverage.
“We decided to do a boba program because a lot of the teens we work with and see every day enjoy boba from across the street,” says Angela Ocana, librarian. “So we looked into making boba and found out that making boba is easy to do by yourself. I pitched the idea to the teens and they got really excited and we decided to make boba. Boba is essentially [made from] tapioca flour, water and then boiling water – and that’s it!”
During the first part of the program, the kids made their own boba balls to take home in plastic bags. With humor and sometimes exasperation, participants mixed water and tapioca flour by hand, kneading the dough before rolling the dough into a ball. The dough was broken down into marble-sized tapioca balls.
Ocana called out Donya Mirzazadeh’s ball of dough for its perfection.
“It was hard to make the dough but it was fun,” says Mirzazadeh, 13. “The dough felt squishy and hard to move.”
During the second part of the program, participants filled blue party cups with tea and added extra flavorings. Then a library volunteer ladled dark glistening tapioca balls, made in-house at the library, into the cups.
“We are having a tea bar with lots of different flavors for them to make tea,” Ocana says. “We have mango, honeydew, milk tea and Thai tea. And they can make them either shaken or blended with the blender.”
Thomas So, 12, stirred his Thai tea while expressing his enjoyment of the workshop.
“I’d say that making the tapioca flour into a ball was the most fun,” he says. “I like drinking this. It tastes pretty good.”
When asked where she found her ingredients, Ocana says that Safeway next door carries tapioca flour. “The flavorings, I ordered online through Amazon. We also got the extra big straws from Amazon.”