In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat; cover pot to reduce as much evaporation as possible. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and add the Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
Stir the simple syrup a few times to ensure it is no longer bubbling. Quickly stir in ¼ cup (28 grams) of the tapioca starch until dissolved. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and forms a smooth, gelatinous paste; about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and add the remaining ¾ cup of tapioca starch. Stir until most of the tapioca starch is absorbed and the dough starts coming off the bottom of the pot.
Transfer to a work surface dusted with tapioca starch and carefully knead the warm dough until smooth and no lumps of tapioca starch remain. If dough is sticking to the surface, lightly dust the surface with a small amount of tapioca starch. It is important to knead the dough while it is still warm as it will become increasingly harder to knead as it cools. Knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky.
Divide the dough in eighths and cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out and cooling too quickly.
Roll the dough into a thin rope about ¼-inch thick (see Chef’s Tips). With a bench scraper or paring knife cut into ¼-inch segments. Roll each segment into a ball or “pearl.” Drop rolled dough into a small bowl with a few tablespoons of tapioca starch and shake the bowl to coat them with the starch; this helps prevent pearls from sticking together. Remove and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (see Chef’s Tips).
Repeat process with the remaining dough until finished.
In a large pot, over medium-high heat, bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
While the water is coming up to a boil, place the boba pearls into a fine-mesh sieve to shake off any excess tapioca starch.
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, carefully add the pearls to the boiling water and immediately stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot and each other. Once all the pearls float to the surface, boil for 30 minutes or until the edges begin to turn translucent. Cover pot and remove from heat.
Allow the boba pearls to soak in the liquid for 25 minutes or until almost completely translucent.
Drain boba pearls in a large sieve or colander and rinse with cold water. Place pearls into a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process.
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar and water. Place over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Bring the simple syrup to a boil.
With a slotted spoon, add the cold boba pearls to the brown sugar simple syrup. Reduce heat to medium and bring the mixture back to a boil. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until boba pearls are completely translucent (see Chef’s Tips).
Remove from the heat and let cool in the saucepan for 5 minutes before transferring to an airtight container (e.g. a large mason jar) while making the tea.
Place hojicha powder into a small bowl or measuring cup. Slowly pour and whisk the cold water into the powder. Whisk vigorously to ensure powder is dissolved.
Measure the cold milk into a large measuring cup or pitcher. Stir the tea concentrate into the milk. If not making the drinks immediately, place into the fridge to keep cold until needed. Stir tea before pouring into glasses.
In two tall drinking glasses, place approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons of the boba pearls into the bottom of each glass by sliding the pearls and syrup down the sides. Alternatively, add the brown sugar boba and the brown sugar syrup into the bottom of each glass.
Tilt and swirl the glass so that the pearls and syrup run around the inside of each glass, creating stripes and streaks.
Fill glasses halfway with ice.
Divide and pour the hojicha milk tea into each glass. Serve with a bubble tea straw.
*This recipe makes just over 1 cup of boba pearls, enough for 4 to 6 drinks. Leftover pearls can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days in the brown sugar syrup. To use leftover boba pearls, add a small amount of water to the pearls being used and microwave until just warm (approximately 30 seconds).
*If drying boba pearls for extended storage (freezing), allow pearls to completely dry out for at least 4 hours. Shake the baking sheet every so often during those 4 hours (bigger pearls will take a bit longer to dry) to keep the pearls from becoming flat on any one side and ensure even drying. Once completely dry, store in an airtight container, preferably in single layers, layered between parchment to prevent possible sticking. Place into the freezer; up to 6 months. Cook from frozen, adding 5 minutes to the boiling time.
*If not boiling all of the boba pearls at once, use 6 times the amount of water; for example, if using ¼ cup of pearls, boil 1½ cups of water.
*Cover any dough you are not working with plastic wrap to ensure the dough doesn’t dry out.
*Get an extra set of hands to help roll the dough into boba pearls; this will speed up the process.
*If dough begins to crack or feels dry, wet hands lightly with cold water before working dough.
*If dough is sticking to your hands or work surface, sift a tablespoon of tapioca starch over the dough and knead in until a tacky dough is achieved.
*Make sure the size of the boba pearl is close to ¼ inch and no larger than ½ inch. Boba pearls tend to swell in size as they cook, and many bubble tea straws are not big enough to fit pearls bigger than ½ inch.
*After boiling in the simple syrup, remove one pearl and test to see if it is completely cooked through. The centre should be chewy and have no hard bits. If the center is still slightly hard, cook for an additional 2 minutes.
*Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar or Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar can be used for the entire recipe if desired. Note that if using all Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar, the syrup and boba pearls will have a deeper, earthy sweetness than if using all Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar.
*Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar can be used for either the Redpath® Demerara Style Sugar or Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar; note that the resulting boba pearls or syrup will be much lighter in colour and have a less pronounced caramel-like flavour.
*To make this recipe vegan, any plant-based milk alternative can be substituted for the whole milk (e.g. oat, coconut, soy, cashew, or almond beverage).
*Hojicha powder or tea can be found in specialty tea shops and/or Japanese supermarkets. If using loose leaf hojicha tea, use twice the amount of tea leaves (5 teaspoons). If using tea bags, use 4 to 5 teabags. Use hot water heated between 176°F to 194°F(80°C to 90°C), and allow tea to steep for at least 3 minutes but no longer than 5 minutes. Strain or lift out teabags and stir into the cold milk. Discard tea leaves or tea bags.
*For the original brown sugar milk tea (aka “tiger milk tea”), instead of the hojicha milk tea, pour milk or nondairy milk beverage into the glass filled with the brown sugar boba and syrup.
*Stir the brown sugar boba hojicha milk tea with the straw to incorporate the brown sugar syrup into the drink before enjoying.