How to Make Boba Pearls at Home -Tapioca Pearls (2023)

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Boba pearls (also known as bubble pearls, or tapioca balls ) are those super lovely chewy black balls of tapioca that you see in boba milk tea. Making boba pearls is easier than it looks – all you need are tapioca flour, water, and a few other simple ingredients. Follow this step-by-step guide to make your own boba pearls!

Caution firstly, this is a time-consuming recipe due to the long time rounding process. Make this in your leisure time for example during watching TV. To make these chewy small balls, we only need three ingredients, brown sugar or dark brown sugar, tapioca starch, and water. Sound quite easy and healthy.We are making brown sugar boba this time, once tried, you can use other color ingredients like fruit juice or mocha powder to make the boba balls colorful and appealing. But among all of the newly popular types, this one with brown sugar syrup is the most common and popular one.

How to Make Boba Pearls at Home -Tapioca Pearls (1)
Table of Contents
  • What are boba pearls?
  • What's tapioca starch
  • Why use tapioca starch for boba pearls?
  • Can I use other starch?
  • What boba pearls taste like
  • How to use boba pearls
  • Is boba pears healthy?
  • Cook’s Note
  • Ingredients
  • How long can the pearls keep
  • Coloring the boba pearls
  • Are you supposed to swallow boba or chew it?
  • Instructions
  • 🧾Recipe

What are boba pearls?

Boba pearls are made oftapioca starchcome fromcassava root(木薯). In some other cases, they are also called black pearls, tapioca pearls, or boba balls. They are the key ingredient in boba milk tea.

Boba milk tea is one of the most popular beverages now. The history of boba milk tea can be traced back to Taiwan in the 1980s when it was originally known as bubble tea. Bubble tea was created by a group of innovative Taiwanese tea shop owners who wanted to find a way to make their tea stands out from the competition. They came up with the idea of adding chewy tapioca pearls, or boba, to their tea, and the new drink quickly became a hit with customers.

Since then, bubble tea has continued to evolve, with new and creative variations being created all the time. Today, there are countless different types of boba milk tea available, from classic milk teas to fruity and flavorful blends. And there are so many ingredients that can be combined including taro balls, sago pearls, and this boba pearls.

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In Chinese, milk tea with boba pearls is called "珍珠奶茶", this shows a lovely picture of pearls in the sea. Boba pearls are super small and lovely pearls that be translucent if no coloring ingredient is added. But typically they are brown or black. In this recipe, the color of dark red boba pearls is gotten by brown sugar. Sometimes, boba pearls are also called "tapioca boba pearls" in order to separate from other milk tea ingredients made from other flour like sweet potato flour and sago.

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What's tapioca starch

Tapioca starch is a gluten-free starch that is extracted from the root of the cassava plant. It is often used as a thickening agent just like cornstarch, sweet potato starch, or potato starch. Tapioca starch is also known as tapioca flour or cassava starch. When cooked, it has a slightly sweet flavor and a chewy texture. Tapioca starch is high in carbohydrates and calories, but it is gluten-free and does not contain any other major nutrients. Tapioca starch can be found in most grocery stores, and it is often used in Asian cooking.

Why use tapioca starch for boba pearls?

Tapioca starch is the perfect boba pearl base because of its sticky texture and chewy consistency. When boba pearls are cooked, they absorb the liquid that they’re in and become soft and chewy because of the high content of resistant starch. The tapioca starch makes it easier for boba pearls to hold their shape while also giving them a unique texture.

Can I use other starch?

Yes, boba pearls can be made with other starches such as potato starch. However, tapioca starch is the most popular because it creates a softer and chewier boba pearl than other starches.

How to Make Boba Pearls at Home -Tapioca Pearls (4)

What boba pearls taste like

Tapioca starch is a very strong starch, so boba pearls can be a little bit chewier. They have no taste themself, just a very faint sweetness from the starch. Very faint and you can only get it if you chew boba pearls for a long time with a focus mode. In boba milk tea, boba pearls will absorb the flavor from the syrup and milk in boba milk tea and give this drink its unique texture.

How to use boba pearls

Boba pearls are usually served cold, but can also be served hot. They are often added to boba milk tea as a topping, but they can also be used in various desserts such as boba ice cream, boba yogurt, and even boba cake!

1.the most popular way of using boba pearls is to make a boba milk tea.

2.You can add it to a smoothie.

3.Boba can also be used as a decoration for cakes, ice cream, and desserts.

Is boba pears healthy?

There are lots of discussions about where milk tea is healthy and you may also wonder whether boba pears are healthy too. Boba is made from tapioca, which is a resistant starch. resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that is not fully broken down by the body, so it has less of an impact on blood sugar levels, but it is quite hard to digest. Another risk is the coloring ingredient used by the factory. So in general, I don't think it is very healthy food.

(Video) Have you ever had bubble tea in which there are real pearls? #Shorts | Ms Yeah

But one advantage of making boba pearls at home is we are much safer with the ingredients used.

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Cook’s Note

About the starch

1.Tapioca starch is the most commonly used option for chewy boba pearls. In Chinese, it is called "木薯淀粉".You can get it from amazon. Currently, I have never tried other types.

2.Making part of the tapioca starch gelatinization is the best way of holding all the flour together and forming a dough for further steps.I get several failure reports for this one, mainly caused by the over-gelatinization or lack of gelatinization.

If the starch is added directly to the boiling water or cold water, then we get a thing named non-Newtonian fluid and can't form a dough. So we add part of the starch for the gelatinization.However, if the starch is overheated or cooked, the pearls can't hold the round shape and chewy texture after cooking.Becomes quite soft and shapeless. So please follow the steps exactly. I highly suggestwatching the video and reading the recipe before starting since we don't get too much time for thinking during the process.


Our boba pearls are made of tapioca starch, brown sugar (as a coloring), and water. Then we will coat them with brown sugar syrup to avoid stickiness.

Tapioca starch- is a gluten-free starch made from cassava root. Tapioca starch contains a large amount of resistant starch (抗性淀粉), making it the perfect ingredient for boba pearls.

Brown sugar- mainly for coloring purposes.

Water- should be cooked until boiling.

Brown sugar syrup-- to sweeten the pearls

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How long can the pearls keep

The cooked pearls should be used within hours. If you want to use it next time, freeze them after the shaping.

Coloring the boba pearls

Some of the recipes may call for food coloring for example black food coloring to make the boba pearls completely black. I believe that's not so necessary. Brown sugar can give it a lovely deep brown color. But if you want to make the boba pearls more creative, there are always other options. You can use natural colors to make boba pearls in different colors. Or you can completely dismiss color ingredients and make them crystal and transparent.


Purple boba pearls with blueberry juice

Orange boba pearls with mango/papaya juice

Green boba pearls with matcha powder

These boba drinks will not only look great but also taste delicious. Once this recipe succeeded, try to make them more interesting.

Are you supposed to swallow boba or chew it?

Boba pearls are meant to be chewed and not swallowed. While boba is safe to consume, it is not good for your digestive system as it is difficult to digest. Chewing boba releases more of its flavor in the drink while also making it easier to digest.


In a small pot, slightly warm the water and dissolve brown sugar (or dark brown sugar). Let the liquid boil completely over the slowest fire. Adding a cover can help to avoid too much water loss. Add ½ of the tapioca starch in and mix well (count: 6-7 seconds). Remove from heat for the electric stove or turn off the fire, then add the remaining tapioca starch and continue mixing until gathered. Be quick during this process.

(Video) Leya & I Ate Boba Popping Pearls!

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Place the remaining flour on an operation board. Transfer the smooth paste and knead it into a dough with the help of a scraper blade. At first, it might be slightly sticky. Slightly dust the board during the kneading process until it becomes smooth, not sticky anymore but still soft.

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Divide the dough into four parts and then shape one portion into a thin and long log. Cut into small cubes.

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Round each small square into small balls (be patient and do not require perfect roundness). You can simply skip this process and save yourself lots of time if you get no requirement for the shape. Longer shaping will make the balls more stable after being boiled.

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On a large plate, spread some flour and coat each ball with enough flour to avoid sticking to each other. Then shift the extra starch off. You can now package them in air-tight bags and freeze them for later use.

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How to cook the boba pearls

Bring a large pot of water (at least 6 times the volume of the pearls) and cook the pears for 20 to 30 minutes. Then transfer the balls into cold water (they shrink to their original size immediately).

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Drain and mix with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar syrup or honey to avoid sticky together.

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How to make a brown sugar boba drink| in a small pot, melt 1 slice of brown sugar slab and 1cup of brown sugar with 100ml water in a small pot. Simmer until melted. Set aside to cool down.

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How to assemble a brown sugar boba drink| drizzle some brown sugar syrup in the serving cup, and rotate the cup so the syrup can form marbles on the cup wall. Place boba pearls in. Pour in milk. Shake or stir before enjoying.

How to Make Boba Pearls at Home -Tapioca Pearls (15)
How to Make Boba Pearls at Home -Tapioca Pearls (16)


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How to Make Boba Pearls at Home

Homemade boba pearls

5 from 16 votes

(Video) Homemade Fruit Caviar PEARLS | Perfect Fake Caviar Recipe

Watch Video Print Recipe

Prep Time 1 d 40 mins

Cook Time 30 mins

Total Time 1 hr 10 mins

Course Howto

Cuisine Chinese

Servings 6

Calories 393 kcal


For boba pearls

(Video) Homemade pearls powder #shorts #pearl #powder

Brown sugar syrup

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 brown sugar slab , around 70g (can be replaced by brown sugar too)
  • 100 ml water ⅓ cup + 1.5 tbsp.


Make boba pearls

  • In a small pot, slightly heat the water and dissolve brown sugar over slowest fire (to avoid too much water lost). Make sure the sugar is dissolved. Heat the liquid to a boiling and then use slowest fire. Now, add ½ of the tapioca starch in and mix quickly (Count 6 to 7seconds). Turn off the fire or remove from fire and add the remaining ½ of the tapioca starch. Mix until gathered. Quick during the process.

  • Place the remaining flour on an operation board. Transfer the smooth paste in and knead into a dough with the help of a scraper blade. At first, it might be slightly sticky. Continue kneading until smooth. Be quick during the process. The dough becomes hard to control when cool down completely.

  • Divide the dough into 4 portions. Remember to cover the other three with plastic bag. Then shape one portion into a long log (around 1.5 cm in diameter), cut the log into small cubes.

  • Round each small squares to small balls (be patient and do not require prefect roundness).

  • In a large plate, spread some flour and coat each ball with enough flour to avoid sticking to each other. After finish all of the pearls, shift the extra flour off. You can now package in air-tight bags and freeze for later use.

Sugar Syrup

  • In a small pot, melt 2 slices of brown sugar slab and 1cup brown sugar with 100ml water in a small pot. Heat until there are large bubbles. Or you can simply use brown sugar syrup.

How to cook the boba pearls

  • Bring a large pot of water (at least 6 times of the volume of the pearls) and cook the pears for 20 to 30 minutes. Then transfer the balls into a cold water (they shrink to original size immediately). Wash under running water. Drain and mix with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar syrup or honey (or sugar) to avoid sticky together.

  • Now, make your creations and make lovely boba drinks!



Recipe firstly published in 2019 and updated with video in 2020.

(Video) Pearl Knotting Tutorial | Beginner's Tutorial


Calories: 393kcalCarbohydrates: 75gProtein: 8gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 120mgPotassium: 384mgSugar: 58gVitamin A: 395IUCalcium: 314mgIron: 0.6mg

Tried this recipe?Mention @ChinaSichuanFood


How do you make bubble pearls? ›

How to prepare Tapioca Pearls for Bubble Tea
  1. Step 1: Boil Water. ...
  2. Step 2: Pour tapioca into boiling water. ...
  3. Step 3: Stir lightly. ...
  4. Step 4: Let the tapioca float to the top. ...
  5. Step 5: Cook for 15 minutes on high heat with cover on. ...
  6. Step 6: Steep the cooked tapioca for 15 minutes. ...
  7. Step 7: Drain the water from the cooked tapioca.

How to make boba without tapioca pearls? ›

Theoretically, you can substitute tapioca flour with cornstarch, potato starch, or sweet potato starch. You can also substitute brown sugar water with any type of sweet drink you like. For example, I used freshly blended strawberry juice in this strawberry boba recipe.

How to make boba at home with tapioca pearls? ›

Fill a small-medium saucepan with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of dried tapioca pearls to the boiling water. At medium heat, wait until the tapioca floats to the surface of the water (2-3 minutes), then cover and cook at a low simmer for 2-3 minutes for a total cooking time of 2-6 minutes.

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 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's the difference between Boba pearls and tapioca pearls? ›

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.

Can u use plain flour to make boba? ›

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.

Can you make tapioca pearls with regular flour? ›

You need to use tapioca starch/flour. These are the same thing, but you definitely cannot substitute cornstarch for tapioca starch. The boba will not form properly. Heat it up: when heating up your water and dark brown sugar, make sure the liquid gets heated enough so that the tapioca starch can dissolve.

Can you use any flour for boba? ›

Regular boba is made using tapioca starch, which comes from the cassava root plant. Tapioca starch looks like a white powder, which gets mixed with boiling brown sugar to make tapioca flour. From there, the flour is kneaded, cut up into slices, rolled into balls, and boiled until it becomes... boba!

Can you use regular tapioca pearls for bubble tea? ›

Can you use white tapioca pearls for bubble tea? Yes, you can use white tapioca pearls (it has different cooking instructions), but I would soak them in sugar syrup or honey after cooking so they taste sweet. Otherwise, white tapioca pearls are fairly unflavored.

How long do homemade Boba pearls last? ›

Cooked pearls will last 4 hours at room temperature. Refrigerated pearls can last up to 3 days. However, these will not retain their original texture. While it is possible to freeze boba, we don't recommend freezing as the boba won't be soft and chewy.

How long to soak tapioca pearls? ›

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.

How long do you leave boba in boiling water? ›

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.

What is the 30 30 method boba? ›

Tapioca Pearl 30/30 Method

Bring a pot of water to a rumbling boil on high heat. Stir water while slowly adding in tapioca, stir until all the boba have risen. After 30 minutes, turn off heat, cover with lid and let rest another 30 minutes. Strain boba and wash under cold running water to remove excess starch.

How long should you let boba boil? ›

Give it a stir and pour the boba pearls in. They should float to the surface within the first 30-45 seconds. 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.

What is chewy boba made of? ›

Black Tapioca Pearls, also known as boba, originated in Taiwan and are made of the starch derived from cassava root. Unlike typical boba, Tea Zone Chewy Tapioca Pearls are chewy on the inside and the outside.

What is the outside of popping pearls made of? ›

The ingredients for Popping Boba consist of water, sugar, fruit juice, calcium lactate, seaweed extract, malic acid, potassium sorbate, coloring, and fruit flavorings. The main ingredient is the seaweed extract, which is considered to be the outer shell of the Popping Boba.

What is bubble tea pearls made of? ›

The bubbles in bubble tea are made from tapioca flour, which is a starch. Unlike wheat flour, which contains starches, protein and fiber, tapioca flour contains only starch. And the secret to making bubbles lies in the way starch particles interact with water.

Why are boba pearls so expensive? ›

“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.

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.

What flavor is black boba? ›

The black coloring is created by added brown sugar or caramel coloring. In other words, black boba is simply tapioca with added coloring that makes it sweeter. The first taste of black boba can be a surprise. The texture is chewy and bouncy, with an almost licorice flavor to it.

Why is my tapioca dough like Oobleck? ›

Therefore, when we add all the tapioca starch to the water all at once, or when the water is not hot enough, some starch particles won't get a chance to be dissolved, they will be floating around in the water, in this way we will get an oobleck boba dough.

Can I use tapioca flour instead of tapioca starch for boba? ›

Both tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

Is boba made with tapioca starch or flour? ›

Making boba pearls. As noted above, these are made with tapioca starch. You can buy this at any Asian store, but it's also available at Bob's Red Mill (sometimes as tapioca flour). Tapioca starch is very similar to cornstarch or cornflour, and as such, it doesn't form a dough when mixed with liquids.

Can I use all purpose flour instead of tapioca starch? ›

All-purpose flour can replace tapioca flour in a 1:1 ratio in most recipes, though the texture may differ depending on what you're using it for. Tapioca flour creates a bright, glossy finish when used as a thickener for gravies, soups, and sauces.

How do you make tapioca flour from scratch? ›

To make tapioca flour from pearls, simply drop the pearls into a food processor (or, even better, a grain mill like with making superfine rice flour) and grind to a fine powder.

Are tapioca pearls the same as tapioca flour? ›

Tapioca flour comes from the root of the cassava plant. It basically the same thing as tapioca pearls, like you would use for pudding, but tapioca flour has been ground into a a flour. Tapioca flour/starch adds structure to gluten free baking.

How to make bubble tea step by step? ›

You can make bubble tea in 5 simple steps!
  1. Make your simple syrup by combining equal parts water and sugar.
  2. Boil the tapioca pearls following the instructions on the package.
  3. Brew your tea to the desired consistency.
  4. Add your syrup, ice, milk and tea into a glass.
  5. Add the boba, and enjoy!
Dec 17, 2022

How long 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 do you need to soak tapioca pearls? ›

First, it is important to soak small pearl tapioca before attempting to make pudding with it, or the texture will be off. Some people soak overnight, but we found that 30 minutes or so worked with small tapioca, resulting in a lively textured tapioca with wonderful creamy, custard bridging the beads.

Are white and black tapioca pearls the same? ›

As mentioned previously – white, Tapioca pearls are made from either starch, caramel or chamomile extract. However, the more popular Tapioca pearls, which are black are made from starch, sweet potato and/or brown sugar.

What kind of tapioca is used for boba? ›

Pearl tapioca is by far the most common preferred form used to create boba pearls and tapioca pudding, as well as other dessert items. Due to the dehydration process, the flakes or pearls will need to be soaked or boiled before being consumed.

Can I eat 2 day old boba? ›

Providing your bubble tea has been refrigerated overnight then yes - you can drink bubble tea the next day. However keep in mind that your bubble tea should be consumed within 24 hours of being refrigerated and if it contains dairy, may not keep as well.

Can you eat raw tapioca pearls? ›

Tapioca is poisonous when raw, but perfectly safe to eat and very nutritious when fully cooked or processed. Most tapioca starch currently on the market is safely made in factories and presents no risk of poisoning.

Why do boba pearls get 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.

What happens if you don't Soak tapioca? ›

Your pudding texture just won't turn out right if you don't soak the tapioca pearls first. Recipes often say to soak for 12 hours, but you can cut that down to 30 minutes and still achieve the creamy, custard-like texture that makes tapioca pudding so delicious. Soaking is easy!

How do you tell if your tapioca pearls are done? ›

Remove the lid and stir often so that the pearls don't stick to one another. The balls are ready when they're completely translucent with a small white dot in the middle. A finished tapioca pearl should be slightly chewy with a bit of resistance and not at all mushy.

What are bubble cup pearls made of? ›

The bubbles in bubble tea are made from tapioca flour, which is a starch. Unlike wheat flour, which contains starches, protein and fiber, tapioca flour contains only starch. And the secret to making bubbles lies in the way starch particles interact with water.

What is boba made out of? ›

What is Boba Made From? Boba is made from tapioca starch, also known as cassava starch, which is why they're often also labeled as "tapioca pearls." They're small spheres that are often simmered in a brown sugar syrup to give them a sweet taste and dark black color.

Are bubble tea 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.

How long does bubble pearls last? ›

After cooking the tapioca pearls, put them in a container and coat with sugar or sugar syrup. This should be kept at room temperature or a bit warmer, but do not put in the refrigerator or freezer. The cooked tapioca pearls should be consumed within 8-10 hours.

Can you make your own boba? ›

Cooking Boba

Boil 8 cups of water and add the dry tapioca pearls. Allow this to cook on for 6-8 minutes on medium-high heat. Turn to low heat and allow this to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the tapioca pearls from the boiling water once these begin to float to the surface.

What is bubble tea vs boba? ›

TLDR: Boba tea and bubble tea both refer to the same thing - a milk tea or fruit tea drink. Boba can also refer to tapioca pearls a.k.a boba balls (the squishy topping often found in a bubble tea).

Why is it called boba? ›

The tea became known as boba because the term is slang for breasts in Chinese (a reference the spherical shape of the tapioca balls).

Does boba use real milk? ›

It depends—although traditional bubble tea is made with cow's milk, and is therefore not dairy-free, bubble tea can be customised to be made with non-dairy milk and other vegan alternatives. You can also get flavoured fruit bubble tea, which doesn't contain milk at all.

What is the unhealthiest bubble tea? ›

A comparison showing the sugar level in seven types of bubble tea orders revealed that the unhealthiest option was brown sugar milk tea with pearls as it contained 18.5 teaspoons of sugar. Winter melon tea comes in at a close second with 16 teaspoons of sugar.

Is it OK to drink bubble tea everyday? ›

Livestrong explains that the beverage is not only unhealthy but also lacks proper nutrients. Even the healthiest version of it carries 150 calories for one serving. Because of this, the healthy living website recommends having the beverage occasionally.

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.

Can I freeze boba 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. Besides, you can extend the lifespan of boba tapioca pearls by freezing.

Does cooked boba go bad? ›

Similar to any food substance, both uncooked and cooked boba pearls can go bad due to their starchy composition; with cooked boba pearls spoiling faster because of their high sugar content.


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