In Vancouver, there are plenty of bubble tea and boba shops around to suit every taste, so an at-home kit may seem redundant. But there’s something particularly satisfying about being able to make a favourite treat on your own, at home, so you can have it whenever you want.
A few DIY bubble tea companies have popped up over the years, including local purveyor Teaspoons Co.
Previously called Passion Tearoom, the company rebranded to Teaspoons Co. at the height of the pandemic as a way to adapt to health restrictions.
This pivot from storefront to at-home boba kits was also, in part, motivated by reducing the amount of plastic waste involved in bubble tea making.
Teaspoons Co. owner Joyce Yim tells Dished that the brand was one of the first to use Butterfly cups – a fully recyclable and compostable cup that A&W has also adopted.
The company’s storefront is open again, but the at-home kits are still hugely popular. There’s a variety of kits available on the website, from Jasmine microground to Uji matcha kits to roasted tea kits.
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Yim tells Dished that the most popular kits are the Thai milk tea kit, black sugar kit, and matcha boba kit.
For my first time trying out an at-home boba kit, I chose Teaspoons Co.’s taro bubble tea kit, complete with tapioca pearls and milk tea powder. The website notes that this one “boasts a bright purple color, a nutty, vanilla, sweet flavor, and an irresistibly creamy texture thanks to the included non-dairy creamer” – exactly the kind of flavour profile I was in the mood for.
The kit comes with a bag of taro powder, milk tea powder, the dried tapioca pearls, some foil liners for leftovers, and a reusable metal straw, as well as instructions on how to make it.
The kits aren’t necessarily cheap – at $26 a pop, plus an extra $2 for the creamer, you’re looking at around $30 per kit, depending on if you choose to add on extras like mango jellies, for example. Once my kit arrived though, I saw how big the portions are.
It includes 350 grams of taro powder, which is a huge amount considering you only use about three tablespoons per serving. The kit says it makes about 10 servings, making each serving cost around $3 – definitely less than what you’d pay at a shop.
The product is also clearly high quality, too, making this upfront cost seem a lot more reasonable.
Before you can make yourself a cup of bubble tea, you have to cook the tapioca pearls.
At first, this step seemed a bit daunting – especially since there were three different sets of instructions included: one on a paper slip, one on a little card, and one on the back of the tapioca bag.
Make sure you read through everything before you start – this made the whole process seem a lot more straightforward. Keep in mind that you need to have sugar in order to make the simple syrup needed for the pearls – I made this mistake and had to go to the store to buy sugar before I could start.
After boiling some water and simmering the pearls for about 45 minutes, you then let them sit for another 15 before adding them to your pre-made simple syrup.
The rest of the prep is really easy, though, so once you have the pearls made you can freeze the rest and just warm them beforehand.
The taro powder and milk tea powder dissolved pretty easily in hot water; the instructions say to add simple syrup, but I found that with the simple syrup from the tapioca pearls and the sweetness from the taro powder itself, the drink didn’t need any added sweetener.
The taro was a really pretty, vibrant purple colour and the drink tasted really similar to bubble teas I’ve had from shops before. I found it a tad on the sweet side, but I also tend to have more of a palate for bitter things rather than sweet things – I realized, in hindsight, that one of the roasted tea kits might have been more up my alley.
That being said, those who go for sweet drinks will definitely be into this blend, which tasted like candied vanilla.
I also appreciated the fact that the milk powder is actually dairy-free, making it a great alternative for those who avoid dairy.
Overall, it was a fun process to make all the components, see them all come together, and then enjoy a bubble tea drink I’d made at home. The novelty of this experience was worth it alone.
The kit seems like a great option for those who frequent bubble tea shops, too, as it will definitely save you a bit of money and give you the option of enjoying a glass whenever you want. With really thoughtful packaging and quality products, it would also make for a great gift.
While we no longer need to stick to at-home dining experiences, there is still a sense of fun and novelty to be had from trying out at-home kits. From taco kits to bubble tea kits, using a pre-packaged, pre-vetted kit to make a favourite treat feels like the food equivalent of crafting: it’s an activity that encourages a creative approach to an ordinary activity, making it feel a bit more special.