If you do not know about the deliciousness that is Roohafza, then my friend, you are in for a treat!
This is a well known drink in south asian culture. Mostly Pakistan and India. And very popular in the summer time or during Ramadan when we like to drink some when we break our fast. Honestly we have been drinking it for so long, the fast feels incomplete without some Roohafza at iftar (when we break our fast).
What is Roohafza?
Roohafza is essentially a concentrated sugar syrup that is infused with rose and other spices. It has a distinctly bright pinkish red colour and smells just like sweet roses.
Traditionally we will mix the syrup into water or milk to make a refreshing drink. It is also used to flavour falooda, which is a drink and dessert in one. Similar to bubble tea, falooda is a combination of soaked chia seed, noodles mixed into Roohafza and milk. Sometimes topped with ice cream and whipped cream. But that is a post for another day! (I actually made a version of this called dalgona falooda on my IG feed from last year!)
But I digress. We are making Roohafza Bubble Tea.
Where can I buy Roohafza?
Every self respecting south asian grocer carries Roohafza. Sometimes it can be sold out, but it comes back fairly quickly. It is normally kept with the other drink mixes or syrups. And beware of copycats that look similar from different brands. The flavour is just not the same. It has to be the original Roohafza brand (Hamdard is the parent company) to get that true Roohafza taste.
What is the ‘Bubble’ in Bubble Tea?
So yes technically we are not making tea. It is just Roohafza with boba. But calling it Roohafza with boba just doesn’t have the same ring to it!
Bubble tea originated in Korea and gets its name actually from the way they prepare the drink. It is supposed to be shaken (not stirred) causing little air bubbles to appear in the drink. That is the true ‘bubble’ in bubble tea.
But in North America many of us refer to the boba or tapioca pearls, little dark brown chewy balls at the bottom of the drink as the ‘bubbles’.
The boba portion of bubble tea is made from tapioca pearls – little balls made of tapioca flour, that are boiled until they become soft and chewy. Almost like a gummy bear. And then mixed with some honey or sugar, before being added to your drink. They feel like a wet gummy bear when you drink/chew it. It is actually quite delicious! (Although I know quite a few people do not enjoy the combo of drinking and chewing at the same time, so It might be one of those, you either love it or hate it kind of things).
I attempted to make my own here. But I can also very easily find these boba or tapioca pearls at my local asian grocer so I just opt for that most of the time. They have a whole aisle full of boba options of all different sizes. I prefer the large tapioca pearls. You can even get tapioca pearls without the traditional brown caramel colouring added. These make an almost translucent boba in your drink. It actually looks really cool.
But the traditional boba we get at the bubble tea shops is the brown one, so that is what I have used here. I’m including a photo of the package of tapioca peals that I normally buy, but you don’t need to get these exact ones. As long as they are large tapioca pearls, you will be fine. Just follow the package directions for cooking time, as they can vary quite a bit.
Where can I buy tapioca pearls or boba for bubble tea?
I find them at my local asian grocer, like Nations. There is normally a rather large selection of types of boba. Different colours and sizes. Most cook in the same way.
I prefer the large or jumbo tapioca and will either go for the white or brown ones like I used in this recipe.
How to cook tapioca pearls or boba for bubble tea?
Some tapioca pearls can be cooked in 5 minutes, others can take over 30 minutes to soften. Either is fine for this recipe. Just go with what works for you.
Generally though, to cook tapioca pearls or boba you need a good 40-50 minutes. First you need to add the tapioca pearls to lots of boiling water, making sure there is lots of water for them to absorb (like when you are cooking pasta). I estimate about a 1/4 cup per person of boba to about 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, giving it the occasional stir so they don’t stick together.
Once the boba start to feel soft and squishy, turn off the heat. Cover and let them steam for an additional 15-20 minutes. Then drain, rinse with cold water and mix in some brown sugar, or honey to add a touch of sweetness. I actually skip this step as I find the drink is sweet enough.
That’s it. Add to your drink and enjoy.
Ive gone through the step by step process in the video on youtube here:
How long do cooked tapioca pearls last?
Honestly, not long.
The cooked tapioca pearls are best eaten as soon as it is finished cooking, or within a few hours. And they do not do well after being refrigerated. They just turn into a hard mass. Not very enjoyable at all. So try to only cook what you will eat right away and keep them at room temperature.
So, while the drink can be made ahead of time, the boba needs to be made fresh for best results.
What can I use to substitute Roohafza?
Honestly, you can’t.
Roohafza is its own distinct flavour. I made my own rose water refresher for a healthier spin on this, for when you want to skip the sugar. But it really is nothing compared to the sugary sweet syrup that is Roohafza.
And yes there are other brands of rose flavoured syrup out there. But none of them have the same flavour as Roohafza. Trust me. There simply is no substitute. And yes, I am totally aware I might be brain washed (taste washed?) into liking this particular brand of rose syrup.
But what can I say, the tongue wants what it wants! 😉
Let me know if you give this a go!
Roohafza Bubble Tea (caffeine free)
- 2 cups milk of choice (I prefer oat milk)
- 4 tbsp Roohafza syrup (adjust to taste)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup large tapioca pearls
- 1 tsp brown sugar or honey (optional)
- whipped cream for topping (optional)
- dried rose petals for topping (optional)
- In a jug, mix the chia seeds (if using), milk and Roohafza syrup together till combined. Adjust amount of syrup to your taste. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the chia seeds to hydrate.
- Meanwhile, cook the boba (tapioca pearls) according to your package directions (if your package doesnt come with directions, see recipe note below). Making sure to bring your water to a boil first before adding the tapioca pearls. The cooking time can vary from 10 minutes to 40 minutes depending on the type of boba you are using.
- When the boba is cooked, drain and rinse in fresh water so they don't stick together. Add a touch of honey if you like to sweeten the boba. Cooked boba must be kept are room temperature, and consumed within a few hours of making it, otherwise they will turn hard and are not fun to eat.
- When ready to serve, drizzle a bit of Roohafza syrup around the serving glass. Scoop equal amount of boba into two glasses. Give the milk a stir, and pour over the boba. Top with whipped cream, and a sprinkle of rose petals, if using. Don't forget the big straw for the boba! Enjoy!
- Cooked boba
- Falooda noodles
- Roohafza milk
- Vanilla ice cream (optional)
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Dried rose petals (optional)