Summer is finally here! School is out and I am temporarily free of any responsibility. Although being a teacher can be grueling, I love teacher summers. For a few months, I can forget about setting an alarm clock, grading, and lesson planning. I can sleep more, work out more, and my favorite part—eat more!
Although I love unwinding during the summer, one thing that I dislike about it is the crazy New England heat. Even though I’ve lived in Massachusetts for seven years now, the muggy summers are still growing on me. People are always shocked that I, a Texan, complain about the heat, but what New Englanders don’t understand is just how pampered Texans are when it comes to dealing with heat.
In Houston, where I grew up, there is only one season—summer. The temperature is constantly in the 90’s, and in July and August the temperature can climb up to the 100’s. Living without AC is unthinkable. However, although it is very hot, it is only very hot outside. You only have to endure the heat for the couple of minutes it takes to walk from your car to wherever you’re going. Once inside, you’re universally greeted by an icy AC breeze.
I was shocked by how common it is for buildings not to have AC in New England. In fact, that’s the norm. So living with high 80-degree weather inside my apartment is entirely new to me. Although, thankfully, we have an AC unit in our bedroom this summer, the rest of the apartment can get unbearably hot at times, and I can only spend so much time in our bedroom. One of the ways in which I make the summer more tolerable is by drinking super cold drinks and eating lots of ice cream.
This past week of heat has yielded a new fusion-ish recipe, horchata boba! Horchata is a rice milk cinnamon drink that is very common in Mexico. Boba, or tapioca balls, are most commonly found in a milk tea drink called bubble tea that originated in Taiwan. One day when drinking horchata, I thought to myself, “This would be so good with boba!” The thought stuck around, and I was finally able to test the combination this past week! Adding bubble tea to milky horchata yielded a refreshing and fun drink, perfect for hot summer days.
After my first batch of horchata boba, I soon thought of two new additions that, in my opinion, improved upon the already amazing drink: matcha and chai—which in turn make a matcha-ta and chai-chata! A matcha-ta is horchata with matcha tea and a chai-chata is horchata with chai masala. All three of these drinks are delicious! My personal favorite variation of this drink has become the chai-chata.
I generally drink Horchata Boba without tea, but have also brewed black tea in just enough water to steep it and then added it to the chai-chata to give me an afternoon caffeine boost. The matcha-ta already has caffeine in it.
Try these creamy and delicious summer drinks and let me know which was your favorite!
Notes: For this recipe, I used Aaron Sanchez’s Horchata recipe to start but omitted the cinnamon stick in subsequent batches since I found that using an actual cinnamon stick resulted in grainy horchata. Instead, I used powdered cinnamon. Horchata can be kind of grainy to begin with, so if you think that texture will not suit your taste simply a) let the horchata separate by letting it rest in the fridge for an hour and pour gently into another container, leaving behind the bottom layer of rice powder b) use a very fine mesh or sieve to strain or c) use rice milk instead! Finally, in terms of boba, I’ve used different brands of boba throughout the years; some have taken hours to cook, others 15-30 minutes, and the most recent variety that I got from Amazon took only 6 minutes. Make sure you read the directions that come with your tapioca balls as boba cooking times may vary.
Yields 5 cups
Total Time: 3 hour and 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 minutes
Basic Horchata Recipe (adapted from Aaron Sanchez’s)
- 1 Cup of White Rice
- 4 Cups of Water
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ⅓ cup sugar*
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
- Boba straws (link to the glass ones shown in my pictures, and disposable ones)
- ½ cup of dried boba pearls
- 5 cups of water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 cup of Horchata
- 1 teaspoon matcha powder
- 1 cup of Horchata
- 1/2 teaspoon chai masala powder
- Horchata: In blender, process the rice and water for about a minute. Let Horchata rest for three hours at room temperature.
- Horchata: Add vanilla, sugar and cinnamon to blender and process horchata until smooth and uniform in texture, about 3 minutes in my blender. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Then strain using cheesecloth or a sieve.
- Boba: Check the directions on your boba package and cook according to the directions. If you’re using the same boba pearls that I used from Amazon, boil for three minutes and allow to sit in hot water for another three. Reserve a few tablespoons of hot water.
- Boba: Strain boba and combine with sugar and honey in a cup to make a simple syrup, add reserved hot water if more liquid is needed and allow to sit in simple syrup for at least ten minutes.
- Serve: Add boba, ice and horchata (plus chai and/or matcha powder if you desire) to a cup and enjoy!