How to Boba At Home
If you don't know what boba drinks are, please go google it.
We have a few go-to favorites. They use potentially 3 different base teas, and possibly some juices, syrups, or milk (half-n-half). Plus, of course, the boba. To facilitate making drinks quickly (as fast as we can cook or reheat boba) we keep tea concentrate on-hand in 3L jugs in the fridge, plus juices, a couple bottles of Torani syrups, and the half-n-half. Drinks take very little time to prepare, and I refill the tea bottles about once per week or less.
Hard-to-find supplies can be found at Amazon, or may be available at your local asian grocery store.
Note that all of these should be made to taste. Start with the guidance below and feel free to experiment! If you want them sweeter, use more syrup. For less sweet, try more juice or tea. If you always have boba and ice left, try less ice or boba -- and if you always run out of boba first, double up before pouring the tea.
- Thai Iced Tea: start with ice + boba. Fill the cup to about 3/4 with thai tea concentrate (see below). Top up with half-n-half.
- Green Fruit Teas: start with ice + boba. Fill about 3/4 with green tea concentrate (see below). Fill half the remainder with a fruit juice, and the rest with syrup or nectar. Note that you really need both a strong juice (flavor) and a sweetener, like Torani syrup or nectar. Try black strawberry (blackberry Torani + strawberry daiquiri mix), or mango apricot (mango Torani + Looza Apricot)
- Milk Tea: start with ice + boba. Fill about 3/4 with black tea concentrate. If desired, mix in a fruit juice (strawberry milk tea), and top up with milk or half-n-half.
- Sweet Tea Boba: ice + boba + black tea concentrate, no mixer.
- Iced Coffee Boba: start with ice + boba. Fill about 3/4 with hot coffee, top up with half-n-half or milk. Alternately, fill halfway with cold brew and top up with milk to taste.
Tools required: AKA the Boba Kit (Amazon)
- A proper tea kettle (for the concentrates). Or just boil water and splash in some cold when making green and thai teas.
Ingredients: 5-minute boba; sugar or honey
Tools: a pyrex or microwave-safe bowl; strainer; spoon
Process: the 5-4-3 method.
Fill the bowl with water, leave about an inch or so -- enough that we can add boba and not slosh hot bobawater around the kitchen. If using the microwave steamer from the kit, leave the basket in place and fill to the top of the mesh. Nuke it on full blast for 5 minutes. Some microwaves have an "express" option: just press 5 and it'll run 100% power / 5 minutes.
Add about a cup of boba. If you're not sure, use a tablespoon and drop about 2 tablespoons of boba per "serving". It's not ultra scientific, I just sorta pour it in to make an underwater pile. Follow your heart. Nuke this for 4 minutes (full blast).
The boba should be floating. If it's not, be sure the water is at least hot. Give it a good swish with your spoon -- we want to be sure the bobas get mixed around a bit so they all get a chance to cook. Nuke it again for 3 minutes (full blast).
Transfer the bowl to the sink. Be careful, it might be hot -- the water is boiling (or very nearly so). Dump the entire contents into your strainer. If using the kit steamer, just lift the basket and dump out the hot bobawater. The balls will be a little puffy and soft.
Rinse the boba under cold water. We're now trying to STOP it from cooking, so give it a good rinse for like 15-20 seconds. Note that the boba will darken and shrink when rinsed, and will turn into their shiny final form. When finished, rinse out your bowl.
Transfer the now-rinsed boba back to the bowl. Cover it with sugar or honey, and stir it in. I like to pour on enough sugar that it starts to stay white over the boba -- like, keep pouring while it melts instantly, then slow down when it stays white on top. The boba will be warm and wet, the sugar (or honey) will dissolve once you stir it in. Mix it all up nicely.
That's it! The boba is now ready to serve. It can stay out for a few hours. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge. After about a day, run them through hot water or in the microwave for 30 secs (ish) to perk 'em up.
Brewing tea concentrates:
Because we mix the teas with ice, milk, and juices, they need to be pretty strong. The conc can double as "sweet tea" if cut about 25-50% with water.
Thai Tea Concentrate: make PER LITRE. If you're making 3 litres, you'll do this 3 times in a row. Add 5 tablespoons of thai tea mix and 3/4 cup sugar to a reusable coffee filter. Slowly filter 1L of water at 175F (green tea temperature). Discard the filtered tea. If necessary, repeat this cycle to fill the container. Chill.
Green Tea Concentrate: for 3L container, use 4 green tea bags + 1 cup sugar. Fill the container with hot water (175F). Steep for like 10 minutes. Remove the bags, shake, chill.
Black Tea Concentrate: for 3L container, use 4 bags of Lipton Cold Brew black tea, 2 cups sugar. Fill with cold water. Let that sit for 15-30 minutes. Remove the bags, shake, chill.
Sourcing fruit juices:
Read the labels! If you want passion fruit, be sure you're not getting pear juice with natural flavors. We don't need high-fructose corn syrup, look for actual juice content.
Kerns Nectar is good for sweetening. We like to match the nectar to the juice: mango juice goes with mango nectar, but also peach and guava are nice to mix in.
A local chef's store / restaurant supply will probably have Torani syrups and smoothie / daiquiri mix, which are great bases for flavored teas.
Publix carries imported Looza fruit juices; Apricot, Mango, and Peach are our favorites (in that order).
Your Favorite Asian Grocery may carry cans or bottles of nectars and concentrates also. Experiment!
An application: New project: Permanent, programmable Christmas (holiday) lights
Remove the cover to expose the "guts". There are two buttons near the USB jack labeled "SETUP" and "RESET". Press and hold SETUP for about 3 seconds; the LED by the buttons will start blinking blue.
On your phone: turn on airplane mode, enable WiFi, and look for a network like "Photon-######" (mix of numbers and letters, unique for each permalite). Connect to that network. Open your phone browser and navigate to http://192.168.0.1
Select the correct WiFi network, enter the password, and save.
Press (and release) the RESET button. The device will reboot and should show a pattern on the small LED starting with blinking green, then ending with a "breathing" Cyan / light blue. The main LED display will begin after a few seconds.
New idea: permanent christmas lights. I read about this on a company "makers" mailing list, no credit to the author (it's been some time, lazy, etc). The idea is simple: use programmable LED strips, mount them (permanently) outdoors, and update them for the seasons.
The LED strips are the easiest part. Amazon sells them in 5m reels (like this), and they can be daisy-chained for arbitrarily-long strips. The LEDs are spaced out, depending on what you want. For side-of-house application, the least-dense option might work well -- 30 LEDs/m, or ~150 LEDs in a 5m segment. That costs like $20 ish. By math they probably consume about 10A per 5m (60mA per LED * 150 LEDs -> 9A, plus various loss along the way. Each strip can have it's own injected power... The linked ones include a waterproof enclosure. One could also feed them into (say) translucent PEX tubing and skip the silicone jacket.
For an MCU platform, I like the Particle Photon (or its kin). Easy stack over wifi (no USB cable) and the "cloud" interface is nice. With minimal programming I can have a web interface to change features like speed, brightness, pattern, etc.
The physical device will be straightforward: a plastic box, maybe 1-2 buttons, a terminal for the 10A power input, and a plug / dongle to tie into the first LED strip. Probably a CdS sensor (light sensor) to adjust brightness, turn off at dawn, etc.
I prototyped the first setup on a breadboard. The LED strips use 5A power which I can pull directly for the MCU, and the MCU drives 3.3v signal which also works great for the LEDs. FastLED library, of course. A simple button (PULLUP + ground) for "change the pattern" (short press) or "change the speed" (long press). CdS is a 10k resistor + the sensor itself, NBD. I made a generic protoboard and they're on order from OSHPark, who are thankfully still open during CORONAPOCALYPSE.
The generic protoboard will do just fine for such a simple project. It has a terminal input for any power level (5-30v), and onboard solder points tied directly. Solder up the 5v pigtail and use the terminal for power supply input. All data pins are broken out in two positions; use D0 for the pigtail data line. Button is easy (mount to a case, one leg to a data pin, one to a GND pin). CdS is almost-as-easy: 10k resistor in the middle line between GND and an analog pin, CdS between 3v3 and the same analog pin on an outside row. Expose that to the side of the case for light entry.
The two components are a medium-sized cap (like 2-10 uF) and an LP2950 regulator.
TODO: get the boards, design + print an enclosure.
Animations are really the easiest part of all this. Once the hardware is done one could update the animations via WiFi... For the time being I've really got one class of animation: seasonal colors, moving slowly. When I'm sitting right in front of it I can't tell it's moving, but if I look up every 2-5 minutes it will have completely changed. That's driving in a simple function which uses a seasonal pallet of 4 colors: red-white-blue-white for independence day, green-red-green-red for xmas, orange-black-orange-black for tgiving/halloween, etc. I like these because they're both dynamic and subtle.
Also considering "chasers" or some active animation, but I don't want them to be too annoying to my neighbors, most of whom I like.
I've spent sort a lot of time figuring out how to print and polish metals. Just because it's neat. There was a LOT of trial and error, and very little actual material I could find reliably, so I hope this log helps any others (or future me) reproduce the results.
This is a quick overview for how to print metal filaments in a "normal" 3D printer: Colorfab (Brassfil, Bronzefil, Copperfil), Proto-Pasta (composite SS, Iron, and Copper), and Virtual Foundry (Filamet in bronze, copper, cluminum) sell filaments with at least 50% metal content. Other "metal" filament with less content can be printed like normal PLA (or whatever base plastic) and is therefore less challenging.
Now that you've successfully printed with "metal" filament, and possibly sintered a solid metal part, you want to make it look nice. These steps are generally chronological, but you can always go out-of-order or do a step again. If you do plan to sinter, I highly recommend a pass of trimming & shaping before the sinter, then further cleanup after.
Solid bronze can be finished and polished to a bright luster, not unlike jewelry. It's a very hard, beautiful metal with some cool properties. It cleans up similar to metal-filled plastics, but there are a few steps specific to solid metals.
tl;dr: pickle, brush, shape, tumble, maybe brush again, polish, buff, wax.
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