a 45 degree angle shot of 3 cups of black tapioca pearl filled glasses flanked with a milk bottle, ceramic sugar container, a silver spoon, and white napkin on a marble table

Milk Tea Panna Cotta

Ultra silky milk tea panna cotta covered in delicately sweetened and chewy tapioca pearls glazed in a brown sugar syrup. creamy, velvety texture and a subtle sweetness with a hint of tea flavor.

a overhead shot of 3 cups of black tapioca pearl filled glasses flanked with a silver spoon and white napkin on a marble table

Why This Works

You can easily make panna cotta at home with simple ingredients and preparations. It pairs well with a variety of flavors such as berries, coconut, coffee, and citrus. In this recipe, we use tea as a substitution for the traditional coffee aroma. The acidity of the tea balances out the richness of the cream, and the tapioca pearls add a hint of caramel for a perfect balance.

a 45 degree angle shot of 3 cups of black tapioca pearl filled glasses flanked with a milk bottle, ceramic sugar container, a silver spoon, and white napkin on a marble table

Tips

What is Panna Cotta?

Panna cotta is a dessert that originates from Italy. It is a creamy, set custard made with dairy, gelatin, and vanilla. It is very creamy and has a jiggly characteristic. It is often flavored with vanilla or liqueurs, and it can be served with a variety of toppings such as fruit, chocolate, or caramel sauce. Panna cotta means “cooked cream” in Italian.

What does Panna Cotta taste like?

It has a rich, velvety texture and a subtle sweetness that makes it a very popular dessert. Panna cotta is usually served chilled, and it is often molded into a small cup or ramekin.

What does milk tea panna cotta taste like?

Milk tea panna cotta is a variation of the traditional panna cotta that is flavored with milk tea. When it is used to flavor panna cotta, the resulting dessert will have a creamy, velvety texture and a subtle sweetness with a hint of tea flavor. The addition of tapioca pearls adds a slightly chewy texture to the panna cotta. Overall, milk tea panna cotta is a delicious twist on the traditional recipe, and it is sure to be a hit with anyone who enjoys the flavor of milk tea.

Which tea do we need for this recipe?

Milk tea is a type of tea that is typically made with black tea and milk, and it has a rich, creamy flavor. I’m using English breakfast but this recipe also works beautifully with any other variation of black tea like earl gray in addition to oolong, jasmine, or hojicha.

What is tapioca?

Tapioca pearls (boba, tapioca bubbles) are primarily made from brown sugar and tapioca starch. It has a very chewy texture and is typically used as a topping in milk tea beverages. I’m using store-bought tapioca pearls for my recipe. These may be found in the pantry section of your local Chinese grocery store.

How do you cook tapioca pearls?

Pre-packaged tapioca will usually come with directions so follow the instructions on the package as the cooking methods may vary. In general, you want to fill a pot half way with water and set it over the stove on medium-high heat. When the water comes to a boil, carefully add in the dried tapioca pearls. Reduce the heat down to low and continuously stir to prevent sticking, up to 8 mins. When the tapioca feels softened, strain well. Mix the cooked pearls with black or dark brown sugar and serve immediately.

a 45 degree angle shot of 3 cups of black tapioca pearl filled glasses flanked with a milk bottle, ceramic sugar container, a silver spoon, and white napkin on a marble table
an overhead shot of 3 cups of black tapioca pearl filled glasses flanked with a milk bottle and white napkin on a marble table
a 45 degree angle shot of 3 cups of black tapioca pearl filled glasses flanked with a milk bottle, ceramic sugar container, a silver spoon, and white napkin on a marble table

Milk Tea Pudding

Ultra silky milk tea scented panna cotta covered in subtly-sweet and satisfyingly chewy tapioca pearls glazed in a brown sugar syrup.
Prep Time 20 mins
Chilling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 3

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 4 sachets English breakfast tea any other variation of black tea, oolong, jasmine, hojicha, or earl gray
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 sheets silver leaf gelatin bloomed, drained (or 1 envelope powdered gelatin)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls
  • 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup brown sugar mixed
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Instructions
 

  • Panna Cotta | Add the gelatin sheets in a tall bowl of cold water and soak for 10 minutes.
    While the gelatin is soaking, set a pot over low heat on the stove and add the skim milk. Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and add the tea bags to steep for 5 minutes. Discard the spent tea bags without squeezing out the excess tea to prevent a bitter mixture.
    Turn the stove back to low heat and add the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract to the pot. Squeeze the liquid out of the bloomed gelatin with your hands and add it to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and mix until uniform.
    Ladle the mixture into three ramekins or silicone muffin pans, if you plan on inverting the Panna Cotta. Allow the Panna Cotta to cool at room temperature first. Then tightly seal them with saran wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Brown Sugar Tapioca | Fill a pot halfway with water and set it over medium-high heat on the stove. When the water comes to a boil, carefully add the dried tapioca pearls. Reduce the heat to low and stir continuously to prevent sticking for up to 8 minutes, or until the tapioca feels softened.
    Strain the cooked pearls well, then mix them with black or dark brown sugar.
  • Assemble | Assemble the dish by unwrapping the panna cotta and spooning on the warm tapioca pearls right before serving. Eat immediately.
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