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Boba Tapioca Pearls are an essential part of bubble tea. Learn the foolproof method to make black boba pearls at home with no weird ingredients so that you can enjoy them without fear.
What are Boba Pearls
Boba Pearls are tapioca pearls that are often added to bubble milk tea. They are made from tapioca starch and have a bouncy, chewy texture with some softness.
You can find packaged boba pearls at Asian grocery stores, however they may contain additives and preservatives. There are also reports of unhealthy chemicals in tapioca pearls used at some bubble tea shops. Therefore, I have decided to make them (as well as boba tea) at home.
The main ingredients are:
- tapioca starch/flour: make sure you buy tapioca flour from Vietnamese or Thai brands. The flour should be very fine and lightweight (like cornstarch).
- cocoa powder and dark brown sugar: these two ingredients together give the pearls a natural dark color and a subtle flavor. No need to use food coloring (or any weird stuff).
When I make them with Vietnamese dark brown sugar, they will have a black color while if I make them with Western dark brown sugar, the color will be deep brown which is still very beautiful. So just grab dark brown sugar at your regular grocery stores.
How to Make Boba Pearls
Black boba pearls are not difficult to make at home. There are 3 main steps here:
- preparing the dough,
- shaping the pearls,
- boiling the pearls.
It is also possible to make ahead and we will discuss that later in the post. I strongly recommend watching the video below and then continue to read to understand the method.
Watch the Video
Preparing the dough
First, dissolve dark brown sugar into water and bring it to a boil. To create the pearls, tapioca flour is usually mixed with boiling liquid to make a kneadable dough. When I dumped all of the starch into boiling liquid (or vice versa), I found 2 potential issues:
- The texture may get weird, wet, lumpy and doesn’t form into a dough.
- If the mixture manages to form into a dough, it is a little difficult to shape the pearls. After cooking, they taste okay though. However, they will be hard chewy the next day (after being stored in the fridge) instead of pleasantly chewy with a bit of softness.
When starch is added directly to hot liquid, it can clump very easily. On the contrary, slurry can be added directly to hot liquid and incorporate more easily than starch. So the solution I came up with is using part of the flour to form a tapioca starch slurry first, then add it to the freshly boiled liquid while stirring to form a wet mixture. After that, gradually add the remaining flour and use a wooden spoon to combine and/or use your hands to knead into a soft and smooth dough.
This foolproof method works every time. Moreover, you can cook the pearls, then refrigerate, and they still have a great texture the next day after reheating in the microwave.
Shaping the pearls
Lightly dust a clean working surface and your hands, press the dough into a flat disk and cut into strips. Roll each strip into a long log and then cut into small pieces. I like to keep each piece not too big since the smaller they are, the fewer time needed to cook them. Don’t make them too small though, or it will take a lot of time to go through all the dough.
Now comes the time-consuming part, which is rolling the dough pieces into round balls. This sounds like a task for when you have a lot of free time or when you binge-watch Netflix :). You may also want to ask your spouse or kids for a helping hand. And don’t stress yourself out about making them perfectly round.
Boiling boba pearls
This is the easiest step out of all three. Just boil the tapioca balls in plenty of water until they are fully cooked.
Mine often take less than 15 minutes to cook. The exact amount of cooking time will depend on the size of the pearls.
Cooked boba pearls will need to be soaked in a simple brown sugar syrup (or honey) to avoid sticking as well as give them more flavors. So once the pearls are cooked through, transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Then drain and soak them in the syrup. The longer you keep them in the syrup, the darker their color will become.
How to Use and Store the Pearls
If you follow my method, after putting the pearls in the syrup, you can use them right away or store them in the fridge until the next day. When you want to use them, briefly microwave them until they become soft-chewy again and add them to your bubble tea.
Highly recommend: make my brown sugar milk tea recipe and enjoy with these homemade tapioca pearls. They may also be a great addition to matcha latte. In Vietnam, young people love adding these black boba pearls to tofu pudding (tào phớ/douhua) nowadays.
How to Make Ahead
After step 2 (shaping the pearls), lightly coat them with tapioca flour, place in a Ziploc bag, and freeze them. When you need to use them, just remove from the fridge and cook in boiling water and marinate in brown sugar syrup after that.
- Brown Sugar Milk Tea
- Easy Tofu Pudding (Tào Phớ/Douhua)
- Blender Iced Matcha Latte
- Banana Tapioca Pudding (Che Chuoi)
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating (if you have tried it). New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Homemade Black Boba Pearls
Boba Tapioca Pearls are an essential part of bubble tea. Learn thefoolproof methodto make black boba pearls at home with no weird ingredients so that you can enjoy them without fear.
4.67 from 3 votes
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Course: Dessert and Snack, Drinks
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
US Customary – Grams
For the Dough
- 4 oz tapioca starch (plus more for dusting)
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 6 1/2 tablespoons water, divided
- 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
For the Brown Sugar Syrup
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
In a bowl, add tapioca starch and cocoa powder. Mix to combine.
Scoop out 3 tablespoons from the flour mixture and add them to a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of water, then stir until smooth to create a starch slurry.
Add 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar and 3 1/2 tablespoons of water to a small saucepan. Place it over medium heat and bring to a boil, then immediately lower to low heat. Add the tapioca starch slurry while constantly stirring for 10-20 seconds until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the stove immediately.
Gradually add the remaining flour into the wet cooked flour mixture (2-3 tablespoons each time) and use a wooden spoon to incorporate. Once the wet flour mixture is fully coated with the raw flour, you can use your hand to knead into a soft, smooth, slightly sticky and bouncy dough.
Lightly dust a clean surface. Press the dough into a flat disk and lightly dust both sides with tapioca flour. Cut into strips.
Roll each strip into a thin log and then cut into small pieces. Then roll each piece into tapioca pearls. Cover the portion of dough that hasn't been used to avoid drying it out.
You may want to lightly dust the pearls to avoid them from sticking to each other. At this point you can freeze them or cook them right away.
Bring a pot with plenty of water to a boil and then add the boba pearls. Maintain a rolling simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes or until they are fully cooked. Boiling time will depend on the size of the pearls. Mine are slightly smaller than green peas.
While cooking the pearls, add dark brown sugar and water for the syrup to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Then transfer to a container to cool down.(Video) Tapioca Pearls & Bubble Tea [Recipe]
Once the pearls are fully cooked, transfer them to a bowl with cold water. Then drain and add them to the brown sugar syrup. You can use them now or store in the fridge up to 2 days. Remove from the fridge and microwave briefly until they are bouncy and chewy again.
Please make sure you use tapioca starch from Vietnamese or Thai brands. The flour is very fine and lightweight, like cornstarch.
I strongly recommend watching the video in the post to see how to combine the flour and make the dough.
The amount of pearls from this recipe can be used for 6-8 glasses of milk tea. Use plenty of water to boil the pearls and use a large pot. If your pot is small, you may want to cook them in 2 batches.
When using the frozen pearls, boil them right away and add more cooking time. All remaining steps are the same.
1 tablespoon of packed dark brown sugar is about 12-13 grams.
Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
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How do you make 5 minute boba pearls? ›
Pre-boil water on a stovetop. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of tapioca pearls to the boiling water and give the water a gentle stir to stop the pearls from sticking to each other. Boil until the tapioca pearls float to the top. Turn the heat to medium low and stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes.How to cook boba pearls at home? ›
- Step 1: Boil Water. ...
- Step 2: Pour tapioca into boiling water. ...
- Step 3: Stir lightly. ...
- Step 4: Let the tapioca float to the top. ...
- Step 5: Cook for 15 minutes on high heat with cover on. ...
- Step 6: Steep the cooked tapioca for 15 minutes. ...
- Step 7: Drain the water from the cooked tapioca.
- Make your simple syrup by combining equal parts water and sugar.
- Boil the tapioca pearls following the instructions on the package.
- Brew your tea to the desired consistency.
- Add your syrup, ice, milk and tea into a glass.
- Add the boba, and enjoy!
Make sure you use pure tapioca flour/starch. You can't substitute this with corn starch or potato starch as the texture won't be the same.How long does homemade boba take? ›
Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water. Cook the boba: Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12 to 15 minutes.How is Boba Pearl made? ›
To make the pearls, boiling water is added to the starch and kneaded to form a dough-like texture. The dough is then rolled and cut into small pearl shapes and added into a boiling mixture of brown sugar and water to create the end product.Why isn t my boba floating? ›
If they don't float you may have a bad batch or you may not have allowed the water to boil all the way before adding the boba. Allow the boba to cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the pot from the heat and place a lid on top. Allow the boba to cook covered for an additional 2-3 minutes.How do you make a simple bubble mixture? ›
Measure 6 cups of water into one container, then pour 1 cup of dish soap into the water and slowly stir it until the soap is mixed in. Try not to let foam or bubbles form while you stir. Measure 1 tablespoon of glycerin or 1/4 cup of corn syrup and add it to the container. Stir the solution until it is mixed together.Is it cheaper to make your own bubble tea? ›
It is often cheaper to make your own bubble tea from scratch. However, both tapioca pearls and boba drink might be time-consuming to make. A bubble tea kit is a good choice to save money and get the same tea shop quality.Does Starbucks have boba? ›
Yes! The company recently launched Starbucks boba coffee popping pearls in the United States. The treats are reminiscent of tapioca balls, and they're filled with Brazilian coffee.
Can we make boba without tapioca? ›
Surprisingly, I found out that you can actually use cornstarch, as a good replacement for tapioca flour, to easily make boba at home. Only 3 ingredients are needed for this recipe: cornstarch, strawberry ice cream, and strawberry syrup.How to make boba without tapioca pearls? ›
- Using a stove or electric kettle, boil the water.
- In a cup, place the black tea bags and pour the hot water over it. ...
- Gently press all the liquid out of the tea bags and remove them from the cup. ...
- In a small bowl, pour ¼ cup of heavy cream plus 1 teaspoon of the black tea and whip it until frothed.
Tapioca pearls, also called boba, boba pearls, are made mostly from starch. The nature of starch makes the pearls chewy and fun, but at the same time very sensitive to humidity and temperature.What is the chewy thing in boba? ›
What are Tapioca Pearls? Tapioca pearls (boba) are small chewy balls made from tapioca starch. Typically, these spheres are black in colour and are used for bubble tea.Is homemade boba good for you? ›
Nutrition: Are tapioca pearls bad for you? Overall, boba tapioca pearls are delicious and fun to eat, though they're not a rich source of nutrients. In ⅓ cup boba pearls, there are around 100 calories, 25g of carbs, 2g of fiber, and that's pretty much it.How long will boba stay soft? ›
How To Store Cooked Tapioca Pearls? The process to store the cooked boba tapioca pearls is quite simple. They can be left at room temperature for 4 hours or placed in simple sugar syrup and after that be refrigerated for 72 hours.How many hours can boba last? ›
The cooked tapioca pearls should be consumed within 8-10 hours. After cooking, how many days it will last? After preparing the tapioca pearls, it is highly recommended to use them the same day (within 8-10 hours). Do not store in the refrigerator or in a cold area.Can I make boba with white sugar? ›
Brown sugar – you can also use white sugar to keep the dough white (for clear boba pearls).Are boba pearls healthy? ›
Unfortunately, boba itself provides very few health benefits, though its calories and carbohydrates can provide you with a boost in energy. In most cases, boba tea contains high levels of sugar, which is linked to long-term health conditions like diabetes and obesity.Why is my boba tasteless? ›
While the brown sugar in black boba gives a hint of extra sweetness, clear boba is straight starch from the cassava root. Clear boba is relatively tasteless on its own, which is why it's used in most milk-based bubble teas.
Is boba chewy or does it pop? ›
Ever wondered what's the difference between Tapioca Pearls & Popping Boba? Here's the answer; Derived from the cassava tree, when cooked, tapioca turns into a sweet, chewy pearl with a similar texture to gummy bears. Popping Boba is filled with fruit juice and when bitten into, 'pops' in your mouth.Is popping boba good for you? ›
Mayde Bursting Popping Boba Pearls
Not only are the flavors delicious, but also utterly healthy as they are made with real fruit juice with no artificial flavorings. What adds to their health benefits is that they are entirely fat-free! They have about 26 calories per 30g serving which isn't much in our opinion.
How to Cook Tapioca Pearls: Instructions. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a deep pot, and add the tapioca. Bring it to a boil again, cover, and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.Is bubble mixture just soap? ›
The wall of a bubble is actually made of three layers; An inner and outer layer made of soap or detergent and a layer of water in between. It's like a water sandwich with soap as the bread. Water evaporating from the bubble film makes the bubble film so thin that the bubble pops.How do you make bubble foam? ›
Here's how to make bubble foam:
Mix 2 parts water to 1 part bubble bath. I wanted to make rainbow bubble foam so I went with 1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup bubble bath for each of my small batches. For color, I added a little food coloring then whip it with a hand mixer on med-high for one minute.
But if you love drinking bubble tea, you are actually addicted to its sugar. Did you know? Sugar is as addictive as cocaine! However, it is widely used as a 'legal drug' worldwide, as it causes addiction in the brain.How often is it OK to drink bubble tea? ›
But there are a few reasons to enjoy this sweetened beverage in moderation. Drinking too much of it may increase your chances of developing diet-related diseases and leave you constipated. "One to two cups a day should be fine, but you shouldn't consume anything in excess," advised Dr. Kushnir.Why are boba prices so high? ›
“It's probably overpriced because the demand for it is high so the people are willing to pay more for it.” Furthermore, many boba stores range their drinks somewhere between $4 and $6 for each drink, charging extra for the addition of toppings such as boba or jelly and an increase in the size of the drink.Can you get boba at Mcdonald's? ›
After introducing bubble tea to its menu last summer, the fast food giant is back at it again, this time bringing two new bubble tea flavours – a malty, chocolate Ovaltine flavour and an aromatic matcha flavour – for you to take on the hot months ahead!Is boba at Sonic? ›
Sonic and Dunkin' Both Launch Popping Boba Drinks This Summer - Eater.
Does Dunkin Donuts sell boba? ›
Yes, Dunkin' actually offers boba now! You can get it iced or hot, and with milk or without. The boba comes in different flavors too, like green tea, strawberry, or mango.Are boba balls edible? ›
Tapioca pearls, also known as tapioca balls, are edible translucent spheres produced from tapioca, a starch made from the cassava root. They originated as a cheaper alternative to sago in Southeast Asian cuisine. When used as an ingredient in bubble tea, they are most commonly referred to as pearls or boba.Is it good to swallow boba? ›
Do You Chew Or Swallow Boba? You should always chew your boba pearls when drinking your bubble tea. Chewing your boba pearls is the best way to help your body digest them and unlock the delicious flavors of the boba pearls. Swallowing too many boba pearls whole may cause an upset stomach.Can boba be made without milk? ›
Boba teas can also be made without any milk, dairy or otherwise. Some vegans prefer to order their boba with fruit, tea, and boba pearls, commonly known as fruit bubble tea. Most tea shops will offer these kinds of options for vegan customers.What is boba without boba called? ›
In most shops, many patrons are also free to choose what toppings they want to add to their drink. So, customers do not necessarily need to add tapioca pearls to their drink for it to be called bubble tea vs boba! For example, popular toppings include crystal jelly, fresh fruits, grass jelly and more.Is boba made out of cornstarch? ›
Can I make tapioca pearls with cornstarch? It is really important to use tapioca starch when making boba or tapioca pearls because you need the sticky and chewy nature of tapioca starch in your dough. Cornstarch does not have the same properties to give you this same texture.What can I use instead of tapioca? ›
- Cornstarch. Cornstarch makes a great replacement for tapioca flour and is easily accessible. ...
- Cassava flour. ...
- Potato starch. ...
- All-purpose flour. ...
- Arrowroot. ...
- Rice flour.
Boba pearls are made of tapioca starch that comes from the cassava root, so compassionate customers can rest easy knowing that gelatin is not used in the making of these tiny balls of deliciousness.Can you get boba without tea? ›
While the classic version of brown sugar milk doesn't have any tea, many shops include it, and you can do so at home by mixing your favorite homemade milk tea with the syrup. Brown sugar milk tea is very sweet and delicious and has become extremely popular all over the world.How are boba jellies made? ›
Contrary to popular belief these are not made out of gelatin. They are actually made from coconut meat, or konjar, a vegetable by product. They have been around for a long time within many Asian desserts and snacks.
How do you make instant boba? ›
To prepare the instant boba pack you heat it then combine it in a glass with one cup of milk and one cup of ice, stir it up and then use the special straw that comes in the box!How to quick cook tapioca balls? ›
To cook the quick-cook black tapioca pearls bring a pan of water to the boil - use 10 cups of water for every 1 cup of tapioca pearls. Add the pearls slowly and stir gently. Wait until they rise to the surface. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes until soft, stirring regularly.Can you make pearls in the microwave? ›
Tapioca pearls or boba are the most-loved topping in bubble tea. It is soft and chewy. It comes in packs of 75g which is perfect for 1 serving. Ready in just 30 seconds, and all you need is a microwave.How are boba balls made? ›
To make the pearls, boiling water is added to the starch and kneaded to form a dough-like texture. The dough is then rolled and cut into small pearl shapes and added into a boiling mixture of brown sugar and water to create the end product.How do boba shops keep boba soft? ›
Sugar Coating: Stir in honey, sugar, or fructose to the drained cooked pearls to form a coating around them. The coating can protect them better from becoming too soft or hard when they mix in with drinks.How are popping boba pearls made? ›
Popping boba are made using a spherification process that includes a reaction of sodium alginate and calcium chloride or calcium lactate. This process results in fruit juice filled “bubbles” that burst when pressure is applied to them.What is 2 minute tapioca? ›
Description. Instant tapioca is a product that's made from a root vegetable called cassava. It's ground into fine granules that dissolve easily when added to pie filling or crockpot gravies, and is prized for its thickening abilities.How many minutes does it take to cook tapioca pearls? ›
How to Cook Tapioca Pearls: Instructions. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a deep pot, and add the tapioca. Bring it to a boil again, cover, and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.Why are my boba pearls hard? ›
Sometimes if the tapioca pearls get too cold or come into direct contact with the ice before other liquid has been added, they can start to harden. Adding the ice last should help keep the boba soft and chewy. It's common to see boba tea served both with and without ice.Do you rinse boba after boiling? ›
Strain the boba and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking and remove the starchy outer layer. Taste-test the tapioca pearls and test if they're fully cooked through. They should be soft and chewy, but not crumble when you eat it.
How long soak boba pearls? ›
Directions. Place the tapioca in a large bowl with a quart of cold water. Cover and allow the tapioca to soak for at least 12 hours. When ready to use, use a fine mesh strainer to drain off the water and set the soaked pearls aside.