Asian Tea - Tapioca Express


These teas can resemble virtually any flavor imaginable.

Asian Tea - Tapioca Express

Postby Kerrath » Dec 3rd, '07, 20:06

I've been on a quest for a while now, trying to determine how to brew tea like a particular 'boba' tea store called Tapioca Express. After a good deal of research I was able to determine that they use Assam tea for their black drinks and I ordered some TGFBOP Hajua Assam from specialteas.com and no matter what I try it's not very similar.

My first question in this line is What brand of tea do they use? Second, What method do they use to brew?

Although it may seem sacrilegious to traditionalists, this tea is delicious to me with almost no aftertaste and a very round mellow taste. My guess on how they make it is that they use a method my father calls "suntea" where you let it brew for an exceptionally long time in lukewarm water.

If anybody has worked at Tapioca Express or Ten Ren and could clue me in, I'd greatly appreciate it.

--Craig
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Dec 3rd, '07, 20:50

TapX adds quite a fair amount of milk if I recall, almost to the point where you can barely taste the tea. Don't forget the flavorings and tapioca balls, either. The brand of the tea shouldn't matter too much, its probably a difference in brewing style.

I doubt they brew it as sun tea though, it would take way too long. I'm guessing they brew it up in large vats with boiling water.
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Postby Kerrath » Dec 3rd, '07, 20:54

I usually don't get the tapioca though since I'm more about the tea and don't like to spend extra money on something I don't need which is part of the reason I am trying to decide how to make it myself. As for milk, wouldn't that make it much more opaque than it is? I'm quite willing to try it though as it does seem like a good idea. Thanks for that tip.
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Postby CynTEAa » Dec 4th, '07, 09:28

I have never tried anything from TapX myself, but the TGFBOP Hajua Assam is a broken leaf, full bodied tea. Perhaps the Assam TapX uses is a full leaf, which would be smoother/mellow?
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Postby Kerrath » Dec 4th, '07, 13:25

That's actually a fairly strong possibility. The only thing is that the tea itself tastes like it has a fairly strong concentration despite how much sweetener they add. In that case I'd guess that they use a very high relative amount per cup which would be mildly unfeasible for a person who doesn't have a high income. The only well-reviewed O.P. teas I've seen have been at least $15 for a quarter lb. and while I could afford it once, as a consistent thing, that would be out of my price range. Can somebody point me in the direction of a good (but somewhat inexpensive [$4-9 preferably]) black tea with somewhat less maltiness than the Hajua I've been drinking?
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Dec 4th, '07, 14:18

Generally, companies that produce mass quantities of tea don't use the $15/ quarter lb. teas. I would guess they use a standard BOP Assam blend. How are you brewing your Assam? Even a BOP doesn't have to be bitter.
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Postby Kerrath » Dec 4th, '07, 14:34

Its only bitter when I brew it strong, but when I brew it any weaker than that, it tastes like teawater when sugar is added. Alone it's fine. Also, it's got a sort of clingy flavor in the second wave that tastes and feels too broad for my palate and it has an odd flavorshape for me. I don't know if that's what the reviewers were referring to as 'malty' but I don't like it in such large quantities and it's vastly different from the taste I get from the commercially made teas. The can of Qimen I had was closer to what they serve at TapX than this is.

On the site I bought the tea from there's another called Assam Hazelbank that is FTGFOP and it's very within my price range but I don't know how much better that would be.
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Postby divintea » Dec 5th, '07, 15:28

There were so many boba houses in Southern California, where I'm originally from, but I never thought about what type of tea tea they used for the tea part! Too focused on the tapioca balls, I guess. Glad I stumbled on this!
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Postby Kerrath » Dec 5th, '07, 18:55

Yeah, there are quite a few around and usually they're more or less convenient. (My closest one is just over a mile away). But I started going there too often and spending too much money so I wanted to try to cut costs. Also, since I don't yet have my license, biking (in which case I've often dropped the drink or it bounced out of my cup holder) and walking are somewhat inconvenient.

Besides that, if you make it yourself, you could be able to customize it, make it hot or stronger whatever you prefer which would be nice. Hard part is knowing how to make it in the first place.
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Postby CynTEAa » Dec 6th, '07, 10:16

Kerrath wrote: The can of Qimen I had was closer to what they serve at TapX than this is.


If the Qimen is closer, perhaps the base is really a China black after all. The Hazelbank should make a nice cup in its own right, but I suspect it will still not be what you are seeking for your boba.
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Postby divintea » Dec 6th, '07, 11:17

Kerrath, will you teach us the ways of making Tapioca Express come to life at home? I'd be so interested to read a DIY recipe.

Maybe this should be a different thread!
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boba tea

Postby hock » Dec 6th, '07, 13:06

I think of this is more of a treat than a regular drink and so prefer to just buy it (rather than making it myself).

My personal favorite is "Thai iced tea with boba."
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Postby LongLiveOolong » Dec 6th, '07, 13:11

Divintea there are tapioca packages that you can find at any grocery store. Just basically boiling them is all it takes. Can't do it too long or the tapioca gets to mushy. I believe tapioca express also lets in settle in some honey/sugar syrup thats why the balls taste kinda sweet. Oh also can't let it sit for more than 3 hours because that also causes the tapioca to get mushy.

I don't remember what kind of black tea they use but I believe it is a basic chinese black tea.

All this talk about tapioca makes me want to go get a green milk tea with tapioca. YUMMMMM. Damn need to move back to LA
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Postby Kerrath » Dec 7th, '07, 03:49

I've never particularly liked tapioca really. It's usually too starchy for my taste and in some ways ruins the tea for me. When I want the drink to last longer, I get the small boba in order to clog the straw though. It's fairly easy to make tapioca balls probably, as there seem to be multiple instructions available on the web and probably on the package as well.

The tea is my main concern. I still find it perplexing. Even tonight, I went to TapX and got black tea and then Quickly and got black tea. The difference was astounding. While TapX was as good as ever with its thick round and smooth flavor, with no aftertaste to speak of, Quickly was rather sharp, slightly watery and tasted more like sweet cold coffee than tea. It also had a bit of an aftertaste.

Somebody previously mentioned that it's probably just chinese black tea, but while I'd agree that Quickly uses that, TapX uses something else, given the complete lack of bite or aftertaste. I think that lends some credence to the rumor I heard that they use Assam tea there, which though, is yet to be determined.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Dec 7th, '07, 04:00

Actually, Chinese black teas like Qimen/Keemun and Yunnan gold/Dian Hong can be very round and smooth, without any astringency to speak of. It all comes down to brewing parameters, really. In all likelihood, TapX uses one of those two teas, probably Qimen (I believe it's cheaper). Still, I'm not sure– I haven't been in a while so I don't remember what it tastes like.
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