Kitchn Love Letters

This Frozen Costco Find Transforms My Kitchen into a Boba Tea Shop

published Apr 16, 2022
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Credit: Heather McClees

In my freshman year of college, a friend took me to Chicago’s Chinatown, where she insisted on showing me the ways of boba. I’d never had boba tea before, and back then (I am an elder millennial, so I am ancient), it was relatively new in the States. As soon as I took my first cold, milky, almond-laced sip, I was enthralled. Each black tapioca pearl was chewy and dense, having soaked up all the flavors of tea. I chased them around with my giant straw and slurped up the last drop. 

Since then, boba has come to represent, for me, a small moment of peace with friends and family, slurping and talking through mouthfuls of chewy pearls. When I go home to visit my grandparents, my cousin takes me to a new boba shop he’s found and treats me to a cup of my choice. It’s the only thing we have in common, this half-hour boba outing, and it’s become meaningful in more ways than one.

Credit: Thao Thai

Boba Bam Instant Boba Pack, $10.99 for 34.5 ounces

I now live in a suburb with no convenient boba shops in sight, so I’ve tried to recreate the magic in my own home. I’ve bought kits and I’ve made the tapioca pearls from scratch. Unfortunately, most homemade boba takes 20 to 30 minutes, and my laziness often gets in the way of my satisfaction. But then my mom began sending me YouTube (rave) reviews about the Boba Bam Instant Boba Pack at Costco. Of course, I drove straight to my favorite local warehouse to pick up a pack from the freezer section and try it for myself.

Sold in packs of 12, and at roughly $11 dollars, it comes to a little less than a dollar a cup — a steal, considering most boba teas run you closer to $4 or $5 per drink. The packs even come with wide boba straws for that ultimate tea shop experience (however, I bought these metal, reusable ones a few months ago and like them better). 

Credit: Thao Thai

The preparation is simple: You cut the top of the boba pouch, which includes the syrup and the boba pearls, and microwave it for 60 seconds. I recommend standing the pouch up in a tall microwave-safe glass, to catch any spills and to reduce the number of dishes you use (you can also use the stovetop method if you prefer). Then, pour the contents of the pouch into your glass and combine with a cup of your milk of choice and a healthy heaping of ice. Stir and sip.

The resulting drink is full of brown sugar flavor, and the texture of the boba is pretty similar to what I’d get at a tea shop, although a little less firm. The syrup is very sweet, so I actually like to brew a few ounces of super-strong tea to dilute the mix along with the milk. This way, I can also impart some other flavors, including Earl Grey, almond, or mango. I’ve also taken to microwaving the packs for 45 seconds, instead of a full 60, to retain the texture of the boba a bit better. When I need a little afternoon treat, I reach for one of these packs — along with some Costco stroopwafels — and I’m immediately able to take that short, peaceful moment. With only myself.

Do you have a favorite Costco frozen find? Tell us in the comments below.