Tahô is a sweet, silky treat made with creamy soft tofu, fragrant brown sugar syrup, and chewy sago pearls. You’re going to love this Filipino favourite!
Is it a drink? Is it a dessert? While this might look like some variation of boba tea, it’s actually tahô, a delectable snack from the Philippines!
If you enjoy my recipes for creamy vegan desserts like Haupia, Mango Coconut Chia Seed Pudding, and No Bake Chocolate Avocado Pudding, you’re going to love tahô too. It’s naturally vegan, creamy yet refreshing, and it even packs in a good amount of plant-based protein. (I have to admit, those sago pearls make it pretty fun too.)
What Is Tahô?
Tahô is a Filipino snack food made with soft silken tofu, arnibal, and sago pearls. It’s a well-loved comfort food—so much so that tahô peddlers can be found all over the country. It can be eaten for breakfast, for dessert, as an afternoon pick-me-up—basically, any time of day is a good time for tahô!
Different regions of the Philippines put their own spins on the classic tahô formula, and you’ll even find tahô in other Southeast Asian countries, but I’m sharing a traditional Filipino version here.
What Is Arnibal?
One of the components of tahô is arnibal, which is a sweet syrup made with sugar and water. Brown sugar and water alone make for a delicious syrup with an intense caramel flavor, but arnibal can also be enhanced with other ingredients like pandan leaves or, in the case of my tahô recipe, black tea.
You don’t have to reserve your arnibal for tahô either! It’s so good drizzled over vegan ice cream.
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Sago pearls – If you can’t find sago pearls, tapioca pearls (AKA boba) can be used instead.
- Boiling water
- Black tea bag – A plain black tea bag will give your arnibal a nice, earthy flavour. You can also use chai for some coziness, Earl Grey for a delicately fragrant syrup, or English Breakfast for a robust flavour.
- Dark brown sugar – Dark brown sugar brings notes of molasses to the arnibal.
- Vanilla extract
- Silken tofu – Use the shelf-stable silken variety, which has the smoothest, creamiest texture.
- Unsweetened coconut milk – Unsweetened soy milk works too.
Are Sago and Tapioca Pearls the Same?
No, sago pearls are different from tapioca pearls, although you can use tapioca pearls in this recipe if you can’t find sago.
Tapioca pearls are made from tapioca or cassava starch, while sago comes from sago palm trees. The starches are processed similarly to create pearls, but sago pearls are smaller than tapioca and they have a different texture when cooked. (Plus, since they’re smaller, they cook faster.)
Sago has a more chewy texture, while tapioca is more gummy. You may also notice that sago has an almost nutty flavour to it, while tapioca pearls don’t taste like much at all.
How to Make Tahô
Making tahô is easy! In fact, once you have arnibal on hand, you can make tahô anytime you like by simply boiling the sago pearls and preparing the tofu.
Boil the sago. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the sago pearls and cook them according to package instructions. Let the sago rest for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse.
Brew the tea. Add boiling water to a large mug. Place the tea bag inside, then cover the mug and let the tea steep for 15 minutes. Discard the tea bag.
Make the arnibal. Combine the dark brown sugar, tea, and vanilla extract in a small pot set over low heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 11-14 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has thickened. Remove from heat.
Heat the tofu. Place the tofu in a microwave-safe container and microwave it for 2-4 minutes, or until it’s warmed through.
Assemble it. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices and place them in a serving glass or bowl. Spoon the sago pearls on top, then pour in 4 to 6 tablespoons of arnibal syrup, followed by the coconut milk.
Tips for Success
This is a fairly versatile recipe, which means it’s hard to mess it up! Here are a few quick tips to help your tahô come together easy-peasy.
- Don’t stop stirring. Sugar burns quickly, so be sure to stir constantly when you’re making the arnibal. Don’t walk away from the stovetop!
- Use a non-stick pot. This will help prevent burning, and also make cleanup a lot easier.
- Use a silicone spatula. Stirring with a silicone spatula will help you keep the syrup from burning on the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Prep ahead. Make the tea, syrup, and sago in advance. Refrigerate them in separate containers and when you’re ready to make the tahô, simply heat the syrup and tea in the microwave before assembling.
Feel free to put your own unique twist on this tahô recipe, or try one of these variations:
- Add more milk. If you’re not a fan of super sweet snacks, reduce the amount of arnibal syrup and add more coconut milk. Not only will this give you tahô that’s less sweet, it will also be creamier.
- Enjoy it cold. Tahô is usually served warm, but try it at room temperature or even chilled. It’s just as good and you can skip the step of heating the tofu.
- Skip the tea. If you’re anxious to dig in, you can skip the tea and just use water instead. It’ll still be delicious thanks to the brown sugar and vanilla.
- Add another layer of flavour. Use Korean strawberry milk or banana milk instead of coconut milk.
How to Store
Store leftover tahô in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be reheated by microwaving it for 1-3 minutes (depending on the amount you’re reheating) or by stirring and heating it over low heat on the stovetop. You can also eat it chilled.
Note that, while you can store leftovers, tahô is best eaten immediately after preparing, so I don’t recommend making it in advance unless you store the components separately.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Unfortunately, tahô is not a recipe that keeps well in the freezer. Enjoy it right away!
Enjoy friends! If you make this taho recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
- water, for boiling
- ¾ cup sago pearls, uncooked
- ½ cup + ⅛ cup boiling water, for the tea
- 1 black tea bag
- ¾ cups dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12.13 ounces silken tofu
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
- Boil the sago. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the sago and cook it according to package instructions. Let the sago rest for 20 minutes. Strain and rinse the pearls. Set them aside.
- Brew the tea. Add the water to a large mug. Place the tea bag inside. Cover the mug and let the tea steep for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bag.
- Make the arnibal syrup. Add the dark brown sugar, tea, and vanilla extract to a small pot over low heat. Stir constantly and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 11-14 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup has thickened. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.
- Heat the tofu. Place the tofu in a microwave-safe container and microwave it for 2-4 minutes.
- Assemble it. Cut the tofu into 1/2" slices. It doesn't really matter what size they are. Scoop them into a serving glass or bowl. Add sago pearls on top to taste. Pour in 4-6 tablespoons of arnibal syrup to taste. Top with coconut milk to taste.
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