Boba Tang Yuan - The Hip New Way to Round Out the Lunar New Year

February  3, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Olivia Chen
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 3 to 4 people
Author Notes

The last day of the Lunar New Year is known as Yuan Xiao Jie or the Lantern Festival 元宵節. In addition to celebrating with handmade lanterns it is traditional to consume chewy rice balls called Yuan Xiao 元宵 commonly known as Tang Yuan 汤圆 (there is a difference between them!) whose spherical shape represents wholeness and brings good relationships and luck for the year to come.

Traditional custom dictates small unfilled red and white Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan, made by rolling the dough (another reference to ‘roundness of the moon’), or large white spheres stuffed occasionally stuffed with adzuki or sesame, to be enjoyed in sweet soup as a way to ‘round out’ the last day of the Lunar New Year’s 15-day celebration. The word ‘Yuan’ means round and signifies wholeness, especially in relationships.

Tang Yuan have experienced a renaissance as the newer generation experiments with contemporary flavors - including Milk Tea! Since at least 2020 Boba Yuan Xiao have been popping up on blogs, vlogs, and in grocers throughout the motherland. In recent years, creative cooks and businesses have filled these treats with everything from gooey matcha to Skippy peanut butter.

Here’s a Twrl Milk Tea version that you can enjoy right at home! There’s two easy ways to make this - either purchase pre-made Tang Yuan and Boba (usually in the freezer section of an Asian supermarket), or if you’re a bit more ambitious make your own Milk Tea Tang Yuan, stuffed with Boba or plain, and top with piping hot Milk Tea to round out our contemporary take on the traditional Tang Yuan.

My grandmother’s secret to cooking the perfect tang yuan for the right combination of chewiness without breaking the tang yuan skin is to wait until your pot of water is boiling and then place the Tang Yuan inside. When the water re-boils, add ½ a cup of water. The magical moment when the Tang Yuan rises to the surface of the pot, that’s when you know it’s time. Pop open a can of milk tea and add some Boba and Tang Yuan. With each delicious bite, the perfect combo of Boba + Milk Tea + Tang Yuan, your New Year is looking more and more prosperous.

Happy New Year! 新年快樂 Xin Nian Kuai Le! —Olivia Chen

What You'll Need
  • Boba Milk Tea Tang Yuan
  • 3 to 6 Tangyuan*
  • 1 can of Twrl Original Black Milk Tea
  • 1 spoonful of ready to eat boba
  • *Twrl Milk Tea Tang Yuan
  • 1 can of Twrl Original Black Milk Tea
  • 2 to 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp all purpose flour
  • Ready to eat Boba (Optional)
  • 1 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  1. Boba Milk Tea Tang Yuan
  2. Boil a pot of boiling water. Once boiled, place 6 to 10 tang yuan in.
  3. When the water reboils, add ½ a cup of water. The magical moment when the tang yuan rises to the surface of the pot, that’s when you know it’s time to scoop the tang yuan out into a bowl. 2-3 tang yuan per bowl.
  4. Pop open a can of Twrl Milk Tea in the bowl with tang yuan. Add some ready made boba and you are ready for the new year!
  1. *Twrl Milk Tea Tang Yuan
  2. Combine the dry ingredients of 1 tsp flour and 2 tbsp cornstarch in a medium bowl.
  3. Blend the dry ingredients with egg yolks together. Note: for Vegan option, try agar with a bit of tapioca as a substitute.
  4. Pour a can of Twrl Milk Tea into the mixture and continue to mix until a custard is formed.
  5. Heat this custard in a pot over the stove and continue stirring until it thickens.
  6. Let custard cool, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until firm to scoop out 1 tablespoon small balls. If you have some boba, combine with custard and form the milk tea + boba filling.
  7. Place 1 cup of sweet rice flour in a medium size bowl.
  8. Slowly pour ½ of cup of boiling water over the dough using a spatula to mix together.
  9. Continue until the mixture is incorporated. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth. Portion the dough into small balls of about 8 to 10. Cover dough to prevent dryness.
  10. Roll out each ball into circular round pancake.
  11. Take the milk tea custard balls and place in the center of the dough and wrap around the custard, making sure it is enclosed. Repeat until done.

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11 Reviews

[email protected] February 3, 2022
Omg Twrl milk tea w/tang yuan is genius!
Olivia C. February 4, 2022
Thank you! Love to hear how you like it. HNY!
amwang February 3, 2022
Wow, this new twist on traditional tang yuan is the best! Don't hesitate to try it out!
Olivia C. February 4, 2022
Thank you for the kindest words. HNY!
JJennOfficial February 3, 2022
Omg, this recipe is amazing. One of my favorite sweets growing up. I tried this recipe right away and it hits the spot :) thank you so much for sharing!
Olivia C. February 4, 2022
So glad you liked this!
papayas February 3, 2022
Yum, must try this!! Never thought of pairing tang yuan with milk tea, it sounds AMAZING!!
Olivia C. February 3, 2022
Thank you so much! Hope it brings you and your family much prosperity, joy and good health.
papayas February 4, 2022
Where can I purchase Twrl Milk Tea? Is it only in stores or online?
Olivia C. February 4, 2022
If you are in the SF Bay Area, you can find Twrl Milk Tea in supermarkets. Online you find them on their website or on Amazon. HTH.

Olivia C. February 4, 2022
Sorry, this is the right link.