2 ouncesChinese brown sugar, broken into coarse 2-inch pieces
For the milk tea base:
1 3/4 cupswater
6Chinese black tea bags
1 cupsweetened condensed milk (about 10 ounces)
Makes:About 6 (4-ounce) ice pops
Bubble tea, the popular drink that originated in Taiwan, gets its turn here as a frozen pop. The tapioca pearls start out solid, but they slowly thaw and turn chewy in your mouth. It’s a little like the bubblegum ice cream of your youth: After the creamy part is gone, the pearls remain to prolong the fun.
Special equipment: You will need freezer pop molds for this recipe. We used these molds, but any kind will work. If yours don’t come with sticks that attach securely, you can buy wooden sticks.
What to buy:Black tapioca pearls, sometimes called boba or bubbles, are made of cassava root and brown sugar and are about the size of large peas. They are sold vacuum-sealed in the dried goods section of Chinese supermarkets or online. Do not purchase white tapioca, which is unflavored.
Chinese brown sugar, sometimes called Chinese brown candy, is made from unrefined cane sugar and has deep caramel flavors. It is sold in blocks or planks in the dried goods section of Asian supermarkets. Do not purchase rock candy, which is pure crystallized sugar. If you can’t find Chinese brown sugar, substitute packed dark brown sugar.
When buying tea for this recipe, look for a strong, plain Chinese black tea that is not smoked or infused with citrus or floral flavors; we like the Rickshaw brand. If you can’t find Chinese black tea, substitute English breakfast tea.
1Bring 3 cups of the water to a boil in a small saucepan with a tightfitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the tapioca pearls, stir, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to rapidly simmer until the pearls are swelled and soft all the way through, about 20 minutes.
2Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Strain the pearls in a colander, rinse with cold water until cooled, and drain thoroughly. Transfer the pearls to a small heatproof bowl.
3Place the remaining 1/2 cup water in a small, clean saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the brown sugar, reduce the heat to medium low, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the sugar syrup over the reserved tapioca pearls, stir to combine, and let sit until the mixture cools to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
For the milk tea base:
1Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan with a tightfitting lid. Add the tea bags, stir to combine, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2Remove the tea bags, pressing the extra liquid from the bags back into the pan, and discard the tea bags. Add the condensed milk and whisk until evenly combined.
To assemble the ice pops:
1Using a slotted spoon, remove 1/3 cup of the pearls from the syrup and divide them among the pop molds. Fill the molds halfway with the milk tea base. Freeze until the pops are almost solid, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, set the remaining pearls aside in the syrup at room temperature. Place the remaining milk tea base in the refrigerator.
2After 2 hours, drain the remaining tapioca pearls and divide them among the molds. Top with the remaining milk tea base. Insert the sticks and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours.