Saturday, August 11, 2012

Deconstructed Taro Root Bubble Tea

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I have tried reverse spherification several different times with coconut milk and soy yogurt, and it always resulted in a disaster, yielding a runny, goopy mess instead of a beautiful, shiny and sturdy sphere. I gave it one last shot with coconut yogurt and I'm glad I did, because it worked perfectly. 

Once that happened, I began to think of ways I could present the spheres on the blog and thought that making plain white vegan yogurt spheres with diced mango and coconut flakes would look really pretty. However, later that day as I was drinking taro root bubble tea, the idea to create a taro root-flavored sphere popped into my head. Since I've gotten the hang of spherification, black tea could serve as the base for the tapioca pearls, with a bit of blackstrap molasses added in to help deepen the color.

These one-bite bubbles not only look beautiful, but also taste really amazing. The taro root bubble has a very thin but sturdy membrane around it, while the texture and taste inside is smooth and creamy—just like taro root tea. The black tea and blackstrap molasses in the tapioca pearls infuses a subtle sweet and dark flavor throughout, making this a strange yet fabulous bite.

for the tapioca pearls
3-4 cups vegetable oil
1/2 cup hot water
2 grams agar powder
1 black tea bag
1 tsp blackstrap molasses

Place the vegetable oil in a tupperware container with a lid and place in the freezer to chill for about an hour.

Place the water into a coffee mug an microwave until it boils. Place the 2 grams of agar into the boiling water and whisk well. Drop in the teabag and steep for about a minute. Squeeze and remove the tea bag. Add in the blackstrap molasses and whisk again. Inspect the color and add just a little bit more molasses if you want a darker tone.

Remove the vegetable oil from the freezer and pour it into a tall beer glass. Fill a squeeze bottle or use a syringe or pipette to pull an inch or two of the tea solution into it. Slowly drop the solution into the cold oil. Drop the tea solution as close as you can into the oil to form a nice round shape. I found that three drops per tapioca pearl worked best and looked the nicest for this application.

After you've made 20 or so pearls, strain them out by pouring the entire glass over a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup. Then pour the oil back into the beer glass an repeat the entire process again. This step is important because although the pearls are pretty sturdy, too much weight can cause them to warp or even melt all together at the bottom.

You'll only have about 10 minutes to perform this process, as the agar will begin to set after that—instead of drops coming out of your syringe/bottle/pipette, you'll have an unworkable solution with the consistency of toothpaste.

You can store the tapioca pearls in a single layer in the oil. Just rinse in water when you are ready to serve them.

for the taro root tea
3 cups cold water
1 tsp sodium alginate
6 ounces vegan coconut yogurt
1 TB almond milk
1-2 TB taro root powder
1 tsp calcium lactate

Whisk together the water and sodium alginate in a blender. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the bubbles to settle.

Mix together the vegan yogurt, almond milk, tea powder and calcium lactate gently with a whisk.

Pour a little of the sodium alginate solution into a circular glass with a 2-inch diameter width at the base. Spoon in about a tablespoon of the taro root tea mixture, then slowly add in more of the sodium alginate solution, enough to cover it. Now swirl it around in a circular motion until a spherical shape is achieved, about a minute.

You can now remove it by pouring the contents into your hand. Drop it into a bowl with some water while you make the rest of the taro root spheres. Serve immediately with the rinsed tapioca pearls.


  1. Super interesting post! I might have to give this a try!

    1. Thank you Kier -- good luck with the recipe!

  2. Whoa, that photo blows my mind!

  3. wow this is so cool! and really pretty too! I bet it tastes amazing

  4. This is fantastic! I admire your tenacity.

  5. Wow... Deconstructed bubble tea? This just looks amazing! I can imagine this little bite explode in my mouth. Thank you very much for sharing. I would love to try to make this one day.

  6. Absolutely love this recipe! I was wondering if it would be ok for me to use it in a school project menu building exercise we are doing

    1. Glad you like! Please feel free to use the recipe for your exercise -- spherification and reverse spherification techniques would be fun to share!

  7. Thanks so much, it's delicious. I would definitely recommend this to everyone. I tried your recipe with loose leaf teas thought, as I thought it would make the taste more delicate.


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