Courtesy of Brand
The 1980s are having a moment this summer—Kate Bush is back on the Billboard charts, Top Gun is new again, and one of the 1980s signature drinks is easier to make than ever. Boba tea (or bubble tea) first arrived on the scene in Taiwan in the 1980s, and now you can make it on demand in your kitchen with Trader Joe's latest handy kit.
The frozen kit comes with four servings of brown sugar tapioca pearls, so you get a rich, molasses-y flavor that will go well with whatever kind of tea or coffee drink you choose to make. Plus, the tapioca pearls are vegan (and gluten-free!) making them an easy addition to your favorite nondairy drinks. The folks at Trader Joe's recommend serving them up with ice, milk, a little sweetener and a flavoring of your choice, whether it's coffee, black tea or some matcha. Each box costs just $5.49, which is the cost of one brown sugar boba milk tea at my local boba shop.
To test this new item out, we thawed the pearls and served them up with ice, milk and some cold brew for some cool refreshment with a boost of caffeine. Luckily, the kit comes with sturdy, wide-mouth paper straws, so you can slurp up the perfect combination of your sweet, milky beverage and chewy boba without a traffic jam in your straw.
Prepping the boba is pretty simple—just microwave it for about 45 seconds or drop it into a cup of boiling water for a minute. Once thawed, you'll have tender, chewy boba suspended in a brown sugar syrup. The boba packet is sweet enough to flavor your drink of choice all on its own, and it added a soft cereal-milk flavor to our glass of cold brew and milk. It was pretty tasty, and it seems like it would be a fun addition to other coffee drinks—hello, oatmilk latte—or a great way to sweeten up a cold London fog or a glass of matcha.
The Instagram-worthy drinks you'll make with this kit are super customizable, which means most of the nutrition info is up to you. Here's the full rundown of the tapioca pearls' nutritional value.
5 mg sodium
28 g carbohydrate
18 g sugar
If you want to make your boba iced coffee the same way we did, simply combine ¾ cup reduced-fat milk, ½ cup (4 ounces) Trader Joe's cold brew and a packet of tapioca pearls with ice. Here's the nutritional info for that drink in particular.
4 g total fat
2 g saturated fat
76 mg sodium
38 g carbohydrate
27 g sugar
18 g added sugar
6 g protein
The sweetness of the boba in this drink makes it a fun option for an after-lunch dessert that can even give you a boost of caffeine to get through the afternoon. It's worth noting that the boba kit is fairly high in added sugar. With 18 grams just from the pearls, that's about half of the daily recommended intake for men or more than two-thirds of the daily recommendation for women, according to the American Heart Association.
"This boba kit is high in added sugars without much fiber or protein to slow down absorption, which could lead to a spike in blood sugar without much staying power," adds Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, nutrition editor at EatingWell. "That doesn't mean that the boba kit is off-limits if you're trying to follow a healthy eating pattern, but instead that it should be enjoyed as a special-occasion treat rather than a daily staple."
For those who love boba but wish they could get more bang for their buck, this kit is a perfect solution. For my three-ingredient drink, I paid $14.77 for more than enough ingredients to make four deceptively simple drinks—that's just $3.70 per drink, which is less than you'd typically pay at a café. Pick up a boba kit on your next Trader Joe's run for a budget-friendly treat you'll love.