By Marina Anderson
Signal Staff Writer
So just what the heck is boba, anyway?
It’s actually one of the fastest growing drink “condiments” in the food industry.
Boba are thick, round, chewy-gummy, brown tapioca starch balls that can be added to drinks or other foods as a dessert topping. I got a laugh when I looked up the meaning for it on the internet.
Thinking it was Asian word for “bubble,” I learned that originally years ago, even though in Chinese it means “big pearls.” Boba was first in Portugal as a dessert in itself. Somehow, someone in Taiwan took this somewhat sticky, satisfying gelatinous dessert, added it to tea, and a whole new beverage was invented. Once used only in Asian communities, boba, also known as bubble tea, has gained worldwide popularity. It’s also one of the fast-food coffee alternatives, especially for those with a sweet tooth.
This sweet-based culinary drink sensation uses a special fat straw to suck up the boba into your mouth, so you can chew the tapioca balls as you’re savoring the liquid beverage at the same time.
There are so many tea-based drink choices boba can be added to — regular tea, milk teas, smoothies, blended… even on top of yogurt or crepes.
In my adventure around town in search of the perfect boba, I found there’s more to it than plop some in your drink, slurp, chew and run.
For those who are as hooked on this delicious creation and newbies beginning your boba adventure, there are trade secret preparations that separate the average quality and experience with boba with one that pleases the palate of the finicky connoisseur.
Yes, it’s really an experience to relished when you get flawless boba.
Here’s some info to help you make your boba choices.
Since the boba has to be cooked first, it can make quite a difference if it’s boiled with no sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup or other ingredients.
How long it’s cooked matters, too. Boba can be too hard or soft or depending on where the shop gets its boba from, how long they cook it or store it. The size, type and ingredients for the boba itself can vary, too — even how it’s stored.
There’s also rainbow-colored boba, crystal boba (also called white pearls or agar boba, which has more of a gelatin texture) and golden boba (yellow-gold colored, also a chewy gelatin texture similar to original boba).
There’s also the popular “popping pearls,” which are clear capsules that, when bitten, release an oh-so-yummy, fruit-flavored liquid.
Some boba shops can adjust the amount of sugar in your drink to your preference, which is great for people who count their calories or carbs or simply want a drink that tastes less sugary. Other boba artisans get creative with layering different contents, so you have colorful, drinkable “artwork.”
Since there are so many different types of boba, when comparing different kinds, try to keep in mind consistency and content, as well as flavor, to see if you detect the differences.
There are many delectable boba shops all-around Santa Clarita to discover. One fun option for exploring is to gather a group and go on a “boba taste test tour” around town.
A few of the fun options in Santa Clarita include Ding Tea in Stevenson Ranch, where you can Engage in a game of Jenga, while treating your taste buds at first of the franchise in our area, which offers the unique crystal and golden variety boba, instead of the standard dark brown version.
At Tutti Frutti in Canyon Country, you can enjoy a yogurt smorgasbord with your boba.
At OH Bella Gelato & Crepe Cafe, which is also in Canyon Country, offers panini sandwiches, a variety of crepes and, of course, your boba cocktail.
Then there’s Cozy Tea in Valencia, which offers special fruit “snow ice” dessert, grass or lychee jelly and egg pudding with their boba.