The bubbles don't refer to the tapioca pearls though; they are usually blended to create them, which results in a slight froth, or bubbliness and this is where they get their name. Originating from Taiwan, they are often made with powders.
After a friend gifted me with a pack of tapioca pearls purchased in a Chinese supermarket in Dalston, I set about making a fruity version. Watermelons were going cheap down the road in Peckham, so I picked up a segment. The chunks went into the blender along with a few handfuls of ice cubes, the juice of half a lime and some sugar syrup. Blended up, it made a refreshing and thirst-quenching drink. I am only sad I didn't have a giant straw to suck the pearls up with, and had to resort to a spoon instead.
Watermelon Bubble Tea
Makes around 2 pints
1/3 of a watermelon
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp water
Two big handfuls of ice cubes
A handful of tapioca pearls
In a large pan full of water, simmer the tapioca pearls for 15 - 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and divide in two, placing them in the bottom of two glasses.
In a small saucepan, simmer the 4 tbsp water with the 2 tbsp of sugar to make the sugar syrup. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Add to a blender with the watermelon, ice and lime and blend well.
Pour into the two glasses and serve, preferably with a humungous straw.