What would you say to a frosty, fruity drink thick enough to eat with a spoon, but even more fun slurped up through a big fat colourful straw? And, freckled with chewy and chubby tapioca pearls, this concoction also has a whole lot of texture to tickle your palate. Loosely labeled Bubble Tea, my version is based on the fun drinks found at Asian eateries. After some inspection and questioning, I discovered that the Bubble Tea purveyors often use questionable sucrose syrups as liquid, heavily laden with artificial colorants, inspiring me to go home and do better.
I throw this together in a blender with all fruit and no tea, using combinations of fruits and fruit juices for maximum nutrition and taste. Any liquid will do, so cold green tea or herbal tea is a fine idea too. As for the bubbles, Asian grocers sell a product that seems to be a tapioca derivative, starchy globs of pleasantly gummy balls that alternatively float and sink throughout the drink. All the writing on the package is foreign to me, so I am not entirely sure what these bubbles are. Cooking time is also a mystery, but a couple of minutes of boiling seem to soften them up enough to make them palatable. These tapioca pearls firm up quickly once cooked and drained, so they sometimes benefit from a quick rinse in cold water to bring them back to their cute chewiness. Of course, you may forgo them altogether, if experimentation with nameless carbohydrates doesn't appeal to you. I find the bubbles add lots of personality and charm to what is essentially a smoothie, and I like to drink my own version of Bubble Tea with a light lunch, spicy supper, or, simply, as breakfast.
You will need a blender and some frozen fruit. Lots of mixing and matching is possible, but I like to use colour as my guide. For an almost neon orange hue and brilliantly fresh flavour, buzz some frozen mango and peach chunks with orange juice and a few drops of pure vanilla extract. A spoonful of plain yogurt is a nice touch here. Sweeten according to your taste. I like to use orange or apple juice concentrate to sweeten my smoothies. Honey or agave syrup are lovely options. Proportions of fruit to liquid are difficult to measure. Add enough liquid to the frozen fruit in the blender to enable the blades to swirl freely and easily. As a guideline, here are some tips:
Use any frozen fruit you like, as long as the pieces are smallish and easily blendable, no larger than 1-inch thick. Flash freeze your own fruit on a waxpaper-lined baking sheet and then store the pieces in zip-style freezer bags. The fruit will remain individually frozen and you can take from the freezer the amount you need. I always include a banana in my smoothies because it yields a thick velvety quality and tropical taste. To make enough smoothies for 4 people, I use about 4 cups of frozen fruit, 1 banana, about 3 - 4 cups of fruit juice, 2 tbsp. of plain yogurt and 2-3 tbsp. of frozen pure orange or apple juice concentrate. Juice concentrate is a natural, unsweetened product in an intense format, adding deep flavour and sweetness without the need for refined sugar.
Exploit the innate redness of strawberries by blending them with cranberry juice. Blend grape juice with frozen blueberries for a dazzling violet smoothie loaded with antioxidants. You do not have to limit yourself to frozen fruit. Fresh blended fruit is also perfectly acceptable as the basis for a smoothie, though frozen fruit will buzz into a frothier, icier finished product. Make your smoothies as thick or as thin as you like. There is no right or wrong here, just your own preferences.
Buzz yourself silly with these titles: