Hot Blood Orange Apple Cider

I sit here thinking to myself, “Is saying ‘hot blood’ in a recipe title appealing?

I sure you, this recipe is delicious AND it is blood-free. Ha!

I love hot mulled apple cider, and it definitely makes its way into my regular sipping rotation throughout the autumn and winter. Frankly, I look forward to my local farmers’ market every Saturday in the colder weather, because I can always get a nice hot cup of it from the Samascott Orchards while perusing their items. You can smell it a block away, I swear!

Funny, because this recipe for Yoga By Candace was almost going to be glühwein, but, as a former resident of Germany, she told me she couldn’t stand it. Quite the opposite, I LOVE glühwein. Ha! So I might have to make my own recipe for this blog at some point.

Until then, please visit YBC for my latest recipe on her site, Hot Blood Orange Apple Cider. The spices, the warmth, and the slight citrus kick will win you over on any cold morning. Trust. ✌️

how to make bubble tea

How To Make Bubble Tea at Home

Kung Fu Tea. Vivi Bubble Tea. Boba Guys. These are small bubble tea chains in NYC that have stolen both my heart and my wallet.

For someone that harbored – and still harbors, to a point – issues with food textures, bubble tea has been something that’s grown on me over the past eleven-ish years. I still recall my first time having it: two of my high-school-era friends, Emilie and Colleen, were taking a quick Boston / Maine road trip after I graduated undergrad in the summer of 2006. Meeting up with another high school friend, Claire, we were taken to Boston’s Chinatown. I had never heard of bubble tea until that quick introduction inside of a multi-vendor warehouse. I don’t remember what kind I drank. I just remember my friends drinking it down, impressed by it, while I snacked on sheets of seaweed, which I wasn’t a huge fan of either. The next day, as Emilie, Colleen, and I made it to Portland, Maine, we came across another spot with bubble tea and Mahjong boards. I got another one, intrigued by how cool the concept of bubble tea was, but not really into those chewy tapioca bubbles dancing on the back of my tongue.


Colleen and Emilie at a bubble tea shop in Portland, Maine – August 2006; 2006 doesn’t seem like that long ago, but that’s another story, I suppose… *sigh*

Once I moved to NYC in 2009, it became relatively more common for me to drink bubble tea – like, two or three times a year – but over the past two years, I’ve become a fiend for it. My Upper East Side office is near a Kung Fu Tea location – my co-worker Felesea is an instantly recognizable face there – and there is a Boba Guys location near my therapist’s office; I oft choose to self-medicate with freshly-made matcha, creamy milk and tapioca pearls before spilling my guts for 45 minutes. (Ha!)

As with so many foods I come across, I think, “How can I make this?” Luckily, it’s pretty easy to get most any food product in this grand metropolitan area of ours. A quick search on Google led me to M2M, a well-known Asian convenience store. Their location near Columbia University yielded a big ol’ (read: 9 ounce) bag of dried boba, the outside of the packing excitedly claiming they’d be ready for consumption in just five minutes!

how to make bubble tea

I followed the directions on the bag to a T, and, well, I was pretty damn happy with myself. Yes, I am absolutely tooting my own horn!

how to make bubble tea

I did have to play around with ratios a bit, as I was developing a recipe for one. What I created worked well for me, though I encourage you to experiment if you want more boba in your tea, a stronger tea, a milkier tea, et al.

how to make bubble tea

Needless to say, a $4 9 ounce bag of dried boba will save you a lot of money in the long run, assuming you want to make this regularly. While I don’t see myself making this regularly, the closest good bubble tea spot to where I live in Shiny Tea on 100th and Broadway, so a cool 100-ish blocks south of my apartment. On days I don’t feel like leaving my cozy nook in Inwood but that craving hits, I know I can take matters into my own hands.

how to make bubble tea

Bubble Tea
(Serves 1; makes a roughly 16 ounce [2 cup] serving of bubble tea)


– 2 & 1/4 cups water (for boiling boba)
– 1/2 cup sugar, preferably Sugar In The Raw
– 1/4 cup black boba tapioca pearls
– 1 & 3/4 cup water (for steeping tea)
– 1-2 tea bags of choice (I used Harney & Sons SoHo Blend for these photos)
– 1 tablespoon dairy or non-dairy milk (optional; I used Malk Organics unsweetened cashew malk)
– Sweetener (optional; see note in Before We Get Started…)

Before We Get Started…

– If we can go back to our 4th grade science class and recall Archimedes’ principle, the addition of the boba will displace some of the water once added to the cup. If putting 2 cups of tea into a 2 cup glass, you bet it’ll spill over! Hence, I steeped the tea in 1 & 3/4 cups of water to allow space for the water to displace due to the addition of boba. (Too scientific? Ha!)

– This will be mentioned in the directions, but the simple syrup that will develop while boiling the boba makes for a great sweetener for the bubble tea!

– Half the fun of drinking bubble tea is having the proper wide straw! Either get one from your favorite bubble tea spot, or look for them, en masse, on Amazon. (<— Not an affiliate link, just a helpful link. Ha!)


1.) Add 2 & 1/4 cups water and sugar to small saucepan and bring to a slow boil, making sure sugar is dissolved. Add black boba tapioca pearls to water and reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove top; don’t be alarmed if the boba looks huge! Remove from heat and allow boba to sit in water for an additional 5 minutes. The water should be reduced by about 1/2 cup and will be a simple syrup.

2.) While boba is cooking, bring 1 & 3/4 cup water to a boil in vessel of choice; add tea bag(s) and steep according to tea’s directions. Discard tea bags when finished steeping.

3.) Add boba to a large glass, at least 2 cups. Slowly add steeped tea. Add milk of choice and sweetener and stir to combine, if desired.

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

Chai tea is a weakness of mine, and I really like going for the good stuff. Hey, I’ll admit it: I was an ardent lover of whatever Starbucks was slinging for years. Growing up in the sticks, I would always excitedly go to Starbucks whenever I visited my family in NYC just for their amazing chai. It was such a novelty for me! Then, as I got older, I saw what real chai tea was (thanks, in part, to the dearly departed Chaiwalla in Salisbury, CT, my Yelp review circa November 2010 still shining bright); while always good in a pinch, my love for mass-produced sugar-laden chai concentrates largely fell by the wayside. Brewing chai with black tea and aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, anise, black pepper, and cardamom, is so warm and satisfying. It’s far more guiltless as the amount of ingredients can be controlled. Less sugar? Plant-based milk? More cardamom? Experiment as you please!

I also love a good cup of hot cocoa. I love how I preached steering away from aforementioned chai concentrates in the preceding paragraph, yet I’m about to drop this gem: I LOVE DUNKIN’ DONUTS HOT COCOA. Good lord, that stuff is addictive! I occasionally throw caution to the wind. I think to myself, “Is it bad to consume Silicon Dioxide and Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate every so often? Is it?” Okay…well…yeah, it’s not. Ha! Regardless, it fills a hole in my soul every now and then. However, at the end of the day, I always try to eat recognizable ingredients; I often make my own cocoa at home, where the ingredients are merely milk, cocoa, sugar, homemade vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. That I can recognize. I don’t recall where I got this recipe from, but I’ve been making it this way ever since I was in high school. It’s definitely tried and true!

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

I love putting a hit of cinnamon into my cocoa every now and then, when I remember to grab a little before drinking it. The slightly sweet spice really brings out the richness of the cocoa. Then I started conjuring all of the flavors that border on sweet and savory that complement chocolate so well: curry, coconut, pepper, salt, et al. Why couldn’t a nice chai mix work well in cocoa?

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

SOMEONE REMIND ME to repost a clearer shot of this photo one day…ha! 

I have often made my own chai mixes with individual spices and black tea, but I’m Sandra Lee-ing this recipe with some chai tea bags. Trust: It’ll make life easier. Be sure to check the ingredients! I found this Pure Leaf Chai Tea on sale at my local grocery store, and the ingredients are solid: black tea, cinnamon, ginger root, cardamom, chicory root, cloves, black pepper, and marigold petals.

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]

By the way, best mug ever right? RIGHT.

Enjoy your cocoa, friends.

Chai-Infused Hot Cocoa [Single Serving]
(Serves One, but of course!)


– 8 – 10 ounces milk, dairy or non-dairy (milk amount depends on your mug size!)
– 2 tablespoons cocoa
– 1 – 2 tablespoons sugar or sweetener of choice, to taste
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– Dash of salt
– 1 chai tea teabag (I used Pure Leaf)

Before We Get Started…

– Of course, it’s very easy to expand the proportions of ingredients to make this with multiple people! I have not tried; I’ve only developed this single serving recipe. If you have success making expanding the serving sizes of this recipe, please share in the comments!


1.) Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add milk; bring to just below boiling, then whisk in cocoa until combined. Add sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk to incorporate. Lower heat to low and add chai tea bag. Seep tea bag in milk for 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow tea bag to steep for an additional 3 – 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and pour cocoa into mug, preferably a cute one with some cheeky illustrations or phrases.

2.) Enjoy!

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NOTE: This post was not sponsored by Pure Leaf, but I’ve got to give them a shout out because their chai blend worked wonders for this recipe!