Syrup, a thick, sweet, liquid made by dissolving sugar in boiling water, is an essential part of the Bubble Tea-making process. Every bubble tea drink from original milk tea to fruity tea uses fructose as a main ingredient, to give the drink a thicker body, and provide a light sweetness.
Beyond fructose, bubble tea also benefits from the incorporation of a range of flavoured syrups into recipes, adding a burst of flavour to the tea liquid base. Fruity teas, for example, are constructed around a green tea base. Though green tea is distinctive and delicious in its bitterness, these bubble tea drinks balance that specific flavour with a complementary fruit profile, by shaking the green tea base with syrup and ice.
Brown sugar or hazelnut syrups are perfect for both flavouring freshly cooked tapioca pearls, and for keeping them moist and chewy. A thicker formulation of brown sugar syrup is also ideal for ‘smearing’, a term used to describe the decorating of a cup with syrup patterns before the finished bubble tea drink is poured in from the shaker.
Syrup, then, is used throughout the bubble tea-making process. From fructose and its foundational role in every bubble tea drink, to fruit syrups which flavour green tea-based drinks, to the brown sugar syrup famously used to flavour tapioca pearls, and smear cups aesthetically, the role of this ingredient cannot be overstated.
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What is Bubble Tea Syrup?
There are essentially three different types of syrup used commonly in the making of bubble tea drinks. The most frequently used of all is fructose. Fructose acts as a sweetener and key ingredient for all bubble tea drinks, as it dissolves easily in both hot and cold liquid bases. Rather than imparting a clear, detectable flavour, fructose works to blend the existing flavours of each recipe together, creating a bridge between the taste of the tea base and any additional ingredients or toppings.
Flavoured syrups are used in both the creation of bubble tea drinks, and toppings like tapioca pearls. Unlike fructose, which just offers sweetness, these syrups are also rich in flavour. These syrups are predominantly used in the making of fruity teas, with green tea bases. There are a huge range of flavours available, which can be mixed and matched with the wide range of popping boba toppings on offer. Syrups with flavours like brown sugar and hazelnut are not just great additions to milky bubble tea creations, but can also be used to elevate the taste and texture of freshly cooked tapioca pearls, by soaking them in the syrup after they have been rinsed and cooled.
Thicker syrups are also available, such as our brown sugar syrup which is ideal for ‘smearing’. This type of syrup functions on two levels, offering both taste and visual elevation. Its higher viscosity makes it perfect for adhering to the sides of a cup and maintaining the desired design even after the finished bubble tea has been poured into the cup.
What is Bubble Tea Syrup Made of?
Bubble tea syrups are made up of fructose (sugar heated with water), and in the case of flavoured syrups there will also be additional flavouring present, combined by dissolving them in the fructose as it is heated. Our fruit concentrate syrups are flavoured with concentrated fruit juice as well as flavouring. For example, our peach concentrate contains concentrated peach juice (4.22%) as well as peach flavour (0.48%).
How is syrup used in the bubble tea-making process and why?
Fructose is used as a key ingredient of every bubble tea drink, in order to provide a light sweetness and a pleasant texture. Fructose is added to the shaker with either a ladle or a fructose dispenser in the correct ratio for each drink, and is shaken with the rest of the ingredients and ice for an even distribution. Though fructose does not impart a specific flavour beyond sweetness to the bubble tea drinks, it works effectively to blend the flavour of the tea base with the flavours of additional ingredients and toppings.
Fruit/ flavoured syrups
These syrups add sweetness to bubble tea drinks as fructose does, but in addition to this they also impart a burst of flavour which compliments a green tea base. Adding a fruity syrup to a green tea base before shaking with ice enables the flavour to be distributed evenly through the drink. The wide range of flavoured syrups on offer makes it easy to mix and match flavours with the variety of popping boba topping options, unlocking an endless number of flavour combinations. Some flavoured syrups, such as hazelnut and brown sugar, are also used to flavour tapioca pearls, and maintain their texture after they have been cooked and cooled.
Thick brown sugar syrup
Thick brown sugar syrup can be used for ‘smearing’ designs around the inside of bubble tea cups before milky teas are poured into them. Due to its high viscosity this syrup is perfect for maintaining its position even after the tea has been added to the cup, thus imparting both flavour and an elevated style to the finished drink.
Why syrup is better than sugar for this purpose
The primary reason that syrup is preferable to sugar when making bubble tea drinks is that it is much easier to mix and distribute evenly throughout the drink. When using syrup there is not the same risk of grainy drinks as there is with sugar, which is unpredictable in its dissolving. Moreover, syrup is easy to measure and dispense with 10ml pumps, a streamlined process which is not possible with sugar.
Tips for using fruit-flavoured syrups to enhance your bubble tea
When using fruit-flavoured syrups to enhance your bubble tea drink, it is important to use those which are high quality so as not to interfere with the balance of flavours, or override the green tea base. The benefit of bubble tea recipes is that they are entirely customisable to your (and your customers’) tastes. The amount of syrup per drink, then, can be adjusted to be more subtle or to provide a bolder flavour. Most syrups will compliment a green tea base nicely, so experimentation is encouraged!