Watermelon Bubble Tea

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Bubble-tea shops are as prolific in Asia as coffee shops are in the United States, in San Francisco, we have several shops in Chinatown and Japantown. Bubble tea is a refreshing cold drink infused with fruit purées, powdered flavorings, tea, water, or milk. Whatever their flavor, they all have marble-sized tapioca pearls that sit at the bottom of the drink, resembling bubbles. The pearls have a slightly chewy consistency, not unlike gummy bears. Another signature trait is the fat straw that accompanies it, large enough for the tapioca pearls to be sipped up. Bubble tea comes in different colors, depending on its flavoring. It is as fun to drink as it is delicious.

Ingredients

Black Tapioca Pearls

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 9 cups water
  • ¾ cup large black tapioca pearls
  • 4 cups diced watermelon
  • 4 cups ice cubes

Method

To Make the Tapioca Pearls

In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and 2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature. Reserve ¼ cup of the syrup in a small bowl and set both aside.

Bring the remaining 7 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the tapioca pearls and boil until tender and no longer chewy, 30 to 35 minutes. (Different brands of tapioca pearls may take a little longer to cook.) Drain the tapioca pearls, rinse them well with water, and add to the larger amount of cooled sugar syrup.

To Prepare the Watermelon

Combine the watermelon pieces and the reserved ¼ cup sugar syrup in a blender. Pulse for 30 seconds. Add the ice and continue to pulse until the mixture is of shaved-ice consistency.

In Advance

Bubble tea should be served immediately after it is made. The tapioca pearls can be made an hour or two ahead. The tapioca pearls will be too chewy if cold or made the day before. The watermelon can be cut a day ahead.

To Serve

Put about 2 tablespoons tapioca pearls in the bottom of each of 6 glasses. Pour the watermelon ice over the tapioca pearls. Serve with wide straws.

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