The drink that screams SUMMER with a little fun: sparkling strawberry lemonade with fresh strawberry boba! This drink not only embodies the cool, refreshing lemonade everyone loves, it's also filled with the flavor and aroma of fresh strawberries, spritzy bubbles, and some fun, chewy boba.
In the last couple of weeks, we've heard so many cries of despair on social media because many boba tea shops are experiencing boba shortages. Although we're not affected too much down in Louisiana, we thought maybe we can alleviate some of that despair by sharing a boba recipe! Which, led us to this sparkling strawberry lemonade with fresh strawberry boba!
Yep, you've read it right. Not a classic boba recipe. It's strawberry bobas! We were inspired to make fresh strawberry bobas after watching Tiktok videos of people making mango bobas. We were blown away! Why didn't we think of making different flavor bobas?! Well now, we've indulged in making wayyyy to many flavors of bobas, lol. But all jokes aside, we are in love with these fresh strawberry bobas. That are a beautiful shade of pink and tastes full of strawberry flavors. Best of all? They're such a nice, fun complement to this sparkling strawberry lemonade!
Use good strawberries
Just as our culinary instructors have always emphasized, "The best ingredients make the best dishes." This quote cannot be more true for making these homemade, fresh strawberry bobas. Essentially, the only flavors these bobas will have are tapioca flour, strawberry, and some sugar for additional sweetness. So with such little ingredients, the most prominent-flavored ingredients will taste most prominent, of course.
We really encourage you to find good strawberries for this recipe, for both the bobas and the macerated strawberries. It really makes a world of difference in flavor. Trust us. We've tried making this recipe with both, mediocre strawberries from grocery stores and good strawberries from our local farmers market. It's unbelievable how much more strawberries flavor was in our bobas and how much better tasting our sparkling strawberry lemonade was. So do your tongue a huge favor, and go get some good strawberries!
The microwave: an alternative method for cooking the initial boba dough
We know. What's better than cooking or baking up some rewarding, yummy food? Of course it's doing less dishes and/ or simplifying the process of making the rewarding, yummy food! So if you ever feel this way...like us...great news! You can make the initial part of this fresh strawberry boba dough in the microwave!
For this alternative method, combine the finely chopped strawberries, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and a packed Tablespoon of tapioca flour in a medium microwave safe bowl. Thoroughly mix the mixture until no more clumps of tapioca flour is visible. Place the bowl into the microwave and microwave the mixture for about 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the power setting of your microwave. The dough is ready when it starts bubbling up and looks translucent and gloopy. However, don't microwave for too long! It will cook out too much moisture and will result in the dough not absorbing enough tapioca flour.
Knead the dough while its hot! (and with caution)
Now, one very very important step in making bobas, aka tapioca pearls, is that the initial, starter dough must be kneaded with the rest of the tapioca flour while it's hot. If the starter dough cools too much, it will not be able to absorb the needed amount of tapioca flour to get the dough to the right consistency and texture for making tapioca pearls. If the starter dough is too hot to handle with your hands, initially, use a rubber spatula to help you fold and knead the dough until you can knead the dough with your hands.
Proper texture of boba dough
Ideally, boba doughs should feel velvety when smooth, not sticky but very slightly tacky, and feels dry but still soft and moist enough for you to roll into pearls without crumbling. After making several batches of boba and also testing boba doughs for different recipes, we've decided that we can expand the margin acceptance for what proper tapioca dough should be. We can't really show you exactly what we look for when we decide if a batch of boba dough is good because a lot of the is by touch. So I recommend to make a few batches of boba and see the difference and what you prefer.
For us, the first thing we look for is how tacky the dough is. The dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Next, our dough should be able to be rolled into a smooth ball. The smooth surface should feel pretty velvety. Last but not least, the dough needs to be dry enough to hold its shape but no so dry that it's crumbly. This last checkmark is probably the most variable. For starters, I'd much prefer to make a dough that's slightly on the wetter side than dry, because dry dough cracks easily and breaks up when you boil the pearls.
Homemade boba shaping hack!
When we first got inspired by this hack, both Kyong and I were mind blown! Like wow! This everyday baking gadget saves us so much time when we make homemade bobas. Plus, the sizes are always consistent! So what is this mysterious boba shaping gadget?! It's a simple wire rack we use for cooling our baked goods.
All you have to do to take advantage of the wire rack is to first, roll the boba dough to a little thicker than ¼ inch. Then, place the slab of boba dough onto the wire rack and roll the dough through the holes of the rack with a rolling pin. With this step, I personally prefer rolling from the edges first because the dough goes through the wires much easier. Next, dust a small amount of tapioca flour on the just-cut tapioca dough (as needed) and start rounding each piece of tapioca dough into pearls. Do also cover the dough with a clean, damp towel while working on the pearls so that they don't dry up and crack.
One last note, if you are using this hack for boba making, I do recommend purchasing a wire rack that have holes about 1 cm x 1 cm or ¼ in x ¼ in. In our opinion, they make the perfect size bobas that won't get stuck in boba straws.
If you've ever made boba drinks with pre-made bobas before, the packages most like instructed to boil the bobas for about 10 to 15 minutes. Indeed, the bobas are probably done within that time, however, the texture of the bobas are not perfect. Turns out, bobas have the best texture if you slightly overcook them. For our bobas, we usually like to boil them for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the boba. To check if the bobas are done, bite a boba pearl in half. The interior of the boba should look kind of translucent and no longer white, powdering, and starchy.
How long does the lemon syrup take to cook?
This recipe's lemon syrup is a little different than a classic lemon syrup that features just the lemon juice. For our recipe, we are using almost the entire lemon and making the entire lemon edible. This process usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how thick the lemon slices are. The thinner, the lesser time needed; the thicker, the more time is needed. To determine if the lemon syrup and slices are ready, look at the rinds of the lemon slices. Once the rind starts to look translucent, the syrup and lemon slices are ready. The reason why the lemon slices must be cooked until the rinds are sort of see through is to make them not bitter and therefore, edible.
Why macerate the strawberries?
Honestly, there are many ways you could go about sweetening the strawberries to make this sparkling strawberry lemonade. We decided on macerating the strawberries. Why? Let's start with what it means to macerate.
To macerate, in reference to fruits, is to soak and/ or marinade fruits in liquid, usually to enhance or elevate its flavor. Our macerated strawberries are soaked in its own juice with the help of sugar because sugar draws out moisture. This way, the strawberries will still taste fresh, sweetened, and be a much better complement for a glass of lemonade that's refreshing. Plus, no cooking needed and the strawberries won't taste like jam.
If you're looking for other summer refreshments, you should check these out!
- All natural pink lemonade with black wolfberries
- Grapefruit spritzer (non-alcoholic)
- Brown sugar boba ice cream bar
- Easy Red wine sangria
Cook with love!
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipe from our blog, please tag us on Instagram @two_plaid_aprons! We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade (with Fresh Strawberry Boba)
For the fresh strawberry bobas:
For the lemon syrup:
- 1 whole lemon , thinly sliced
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (about 150g or to your preference)
- ¼ cup water (about 59mL)
For the macerated strawberries:
- ¾ cup strawberry , hulled and finely chopped (about 14-16) strawberries or 150g)
- 3 Tablespoon granulated sugar (about 37g or to your preference)
To assemble the drink:
- 3 cup club soda , or seltzer and sparkling water (about 700mL)
- Strawberries , optional for garnish
- Thyme , optional for garnish
For the fresh strawberry bobas:
- Place 1 cup of the tapioca flour onto your clean work surface. Reserve the other ¼ cup of tapioca flour for later use.
- In a small saucepan, combine the finely chopped strawberries, sugar, and 1 Tablespoon of tapioca flour. Thoroughly mix everything together and cook it over medium heat. Once the mixture looks a little translucent and turns gloopy, remove from heat.*You could also complete this step by using the microwave. Please refer to the post above for more details.*
- Immediately transfer the hot strawberry tapioca dough onto the cup of tapioca flour on your work surface and start kneading the tapioca flour into the hot dough. Knead the tapioca flour into your dough until all of the flour is absorbed. If the dough still feels really wet, add the ¼ cup of tapioca flour a couple of Tablespoons at a time. The proper consistency of the dough should be smooth, slightly tacky but not sticky, and semi-pliable.**DO be very careful! The dough will be very hot, so start by folding the flour into your dough if needed.***The about of tapioca flour needed for the boba dough really depends on how juicy your strawberries are, so adjust accordingly. The humidity of your environment could also be a factor and you may not even need a whole cup of tapioca flour.*
- Once the strawberry boba dough has reach its proper consistency, divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll both of the dough into ropes, about ¼ inch thick. Cut the ropes into ¼ inch pieces and roll each of the pieces into pearls. Make sure to keep the tapioca covered with a clean, damp towel while working to prevent them from drying out. Lightly dust the pearls with tapioca flour as needed.Boba Hack: Roll the dough to about ⅜ to ¼ inch thick on a lightly tapioca-floured surface. Place the flattened dough onto a wire rack and roll the dough through the holes of the rack. If your dough is a bit on the tacker side, do flour the rack before rolling the dough on it.*I recommend using a wire rack that has 1cm x 1cm holes for the perfect size bobas, because bobas do expand when cooked. Refer to the post for picture reference on this step!*
- In a pot of boiling water, add the tapioca pearls to the water while stirring. This will help prevent the pearls from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Boil the pearls for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pearls is completely cooked on the inside. To check, bite a pearl in half. The inside should be chewy and no longer tastes starchy.
- Once the bobas are cooked, strain the pearls and rinse them under cold water. Set aside until needed.Tip: Personally, we like to make a 1 to 1 ratio of water and sugar syrup to keep our bobas from sticking to each other, tasting sweet, and tender but chewy. If you wish to do the same, combine ½ cup of granulated sugar and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the cooked tapioca pearls. Simmer the pearls with the syrup for 30 seconds to 1 minutes and remove from heat. Let the pearls cool in the fridge until needed.
For the lemon syrup:
- In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon slices, sugar, and water. Try to arrange the lemon slices in an even layer so that the lemons can cook evenly.
- Bring the lemon syrup mixture to a low boil over medium/ medium high heat. Boil the lemon slices until most of the lemon rinds are starting to look translucent, about 7-10 minutes depending on how thick the lemon slices are.
- Once the lemons rinds are cooked through, transfer the lemon syrup and lemon slices to a heatproof container. Set the lemon syrup aside to cool until needed. *This syrup is very versatile and can be made up to 1 week ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed.*
For the macerated strawberries:
- Combine the finely chopped strawberries and sugar in a bowl. Mix throughly and set aside for 5-10 minutes, or refrigerate it until needed. The macerated strawberries can be made up to 3 days ahead of time if you prefer.
To assemble the sparkling strawberry lemonade:
- Spoon ⅓ of the cooled, fresh strawberry bobas into the bottom of glass*. Next, top the bobas with ⅓ of the macerated strawberries, 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon syrup, and a couple slices of the candied lemon (if you wish).*We suggest using tall glasses, as they create more aesthetically pleasing drinks, especially ones with color separations. The glasses we used are about 17 fluid ounces, if you're wondering. =)*
- Top the glass with ice and then fill it with your choice of club soda, seltzer, or sparkling water.
- Garnish the sparkling strawberry lemonade with a sprig of thyme and/ or strawberry. Repeat with the other 2 glasses and enjoy!