Tapioca pearl preparation

Boba, or tapioca pearls, are a chewy addition to drinks and desserts thanks to their translucence and sugary sweetness. Despite how much I enjoy the "Boba Since they're simple to prepare and worth the effort when serving a large group, I like to whip some up in the kitchen after dinner on the regular.

covering the pot with a lid

How to begin

If you're working with white boba, I've written up specific instructions for preparing the tapioca pearls. While they are extremely similar, there are some subtle but potentially important brand-specific differences.

Since cooking methods and times can vary greatly between brands, it is best to follow the guidelines provided on the package of tapioca pearls you purchase.

For whatever reason, if you've been sent a bag of boba without instructions, the 30 & 30 method described below is a good place to start. It proved effective for the vast majority of the brands I tried, though some required a shorter brewing time or additional rounds.

Products from my tests

  • To make Bossen Tapioca Pearls (Large Boba), follow the 30 and 30 procedure. Some people refer to this boba as "fresh boba" because it has a shorter shelf life than other brands and can be easily crushed between your fingers.  
  • To prepare E Fa Brand Boba, see the enclosed packaging for specifics. Just as easy to whip up (in reality, it only takes five minutes) as WuFuYuan boba, I highly recommend picking this brand up if you can't find WuFuYuan. ) It's straightforward and easy to understand. Additionally, this brand has a very lengthy storage life even once opened.  
  • Use the 30/30 method with Tea Zone's Original Tapioca Pearls (Boba). Just like the Bossen tapioca pearls, the "fresh boba" from this brand is easily crushed, so exercise caution when handling. The texture is the same as traditional boba.  
  • Prepare as directed on the package using Tea Zone Instant 10 Tapioca Pearls (Boba). This boba wasn't my favorite because the consistency wasn't quite right, and it was noticeably smaller than the rest of the boba I tried. In spite of my best efforts, my boba turned out slightly hard. Due to the longer resting time, this boba took over 10 minutes to prepare instead of the 5 minutes required for the E-Fa and WuFuYuan quick styles.   
  • Using the 30 and 30 method, prepare Tea Zone Chewy Tapioca Pearls (Boba). This boba is great because it has a chewier consistency than the original Tea Zone variety, which is my personal favorite. If you prefer a more chewy boba, I think you'll enjoy this.     
  • To prepare WuFuYuan Black Boba Tapioca Pearls in five minutes, use the method outlined on the packaging. For its speed (it only takes five minutes) and its satisfying chewiness, this boba is my go-to.

If you want to use the 30 and 30 method for a brand that I haven't tried, I suggest reading on. If it becomes too soft while cooking, reduce the heat. The pearls may require additional cooking and resting cycles if their centers are still raw.

The 30/30 method of cooking

This equates to 30 minutes of prep time, 30 minutes of cooking, and 30 minutes of rest. Since there are many different kinds of boba available from different brands, the 30 & 30 method is a good place to start if you've never made boba at home before. Many varieties of white tapioca pearls can be made using this technique as well. This strategy has never let me down before.

Step 1 For every half cup of dried tapioca pearls, you will need to bring ten cups of water to a boil in a large pot. In general, one cup of cooked boba can be made from half a cup of dried boba. (Don't wash the boba in the sink before you cook it; it could make the balls fall apart.)

adding boba to boiling water

Step 2 When the water is at a full boil, drop in your dried tapioca pearls and watch for the boba to rise to the surface. It should only take 30 seconds to complete. After the boba has risen to the surface, reduce heat to medium and continue simmering. Leave the lid off and let it cook for another 30 minutes.

covering the pot with a lid

Step 3 Once the first 30 minutes have passed, remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and set it aside for another 30 minutes. Put the boba in a strainer and rinse them under cold water to get rid of any remaining starch.  

testing boba for doneness

Step 4 Check that your boba is consistently chewy by tasting a few. The 30 and 30 method is so effective that it can be used repeatedly until the desired texture is achieved, even if the center remains hard after the first attempt. Take into account that the longer boba is submerged in liquid, the softer it will become, and the possibility increases that it will dissolve altogether.

soaking boba in syrup

Step 5 If the boba are done, you can add some (optional) dark brown sugar or honey and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.

To cook quickly, use pearls from WuFuYuan or E-FA.

This speedy procedure is founded on the use of two specific boba brands: WuFuYuan and E-Fa boba. You don't need to soak the boba from these brands and you can have it ready in under five minutes. If the label doesn't specify that your boba is quick cooking, or if you're unsure, I recommend the 30-and-30 method.

bag and a small plate of uncooked boba

Brown tapioca pearls come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it's important to check the package for specific instructions before beginning. This is, however, what I've done:

Step 1 Over high heat, bring your water to a boil. Hold off on the boba for now.

Step 2 You should add your boba to the boiling water carefully (they may splatter a little) and wait until they float. When it comes to boba, I go for the medium-brown ones that WuFuYuan offers.

Step 3 Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pot, and let the boba continue cooking for two or three minutes after it floats to the surface. The pearls only take a few minutes to cook, so I keep an eye on them the whole time.  

Step 4 Check the doneness of the boba by tasting one ball; once satisfied, transfer the boba to a new container. The ideal chewiness is somewhere between al dente and chewy. The boba should be taken out of the pot just before it becomes mushy and spoils. Keep in mind that the boba will continue to cook slightly even after you take them out of the water.  

Step 5 Using the remaining water and brown sugar, I like to make a simple syrup sauce to soak my boba in for a bit to give it a little more flavor. Put this sauce in the boba container and let it sit for about ten minutes. You can prevent your boba from sticking to each other and drying out by soaking it in water before using it in your drink or dessert.

Step 6 The resulting boba should be chewy and sweet. The boba has been sweetened, so you can enjoy it in drinks and desserts.

These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Exactly what are tapioca pearls

Although other starches, such as rice flour, have been used in the past, today tapioca starch and hot water are typically used to create these pearls, which are then rolled into balls.

The Southeast Asian region is the birthplace of tapioca pearls, which are used in desserts and beverages like milk tea and Thai tea.

Sizes and hues of boba are readily available. Tapioca pearls can be purchased from many different online stores and Asian markets like 99 Ranch Market. Several types of boba are listed below:

  • To make white tapioca pearls, only tapioca starch and water are used. This results in a mild flavor. After cooking, the pearls lose some of their whiteness and take on a delicate translucence, revealing a chewy opaque core.  
  • Black tapioca pearls are a variety of boba that resembles white tapioca pearls but has a darker, more opaque color due to the addition of ingredients like brown sugar.  
  • In the same way that white tapioca pearls resemble round spheres, rainbow tapioca pearls resemble a spectrum of colors. They can be cooked until opaque, and if you like, you can soak them in sweet syrup or honey for added flavor.

Tips for Keeping Tapioca Pearls Fresh

The best way to preserve dry, unused tapioca pearls is to store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They keep for a few months in my fridge.

Cooked pearls become gummier the longer they sit out because of the tapioca starch.  

What is the proper way to consume tapioca pearls?

The tapioca pearl is a versatile ingredient in Asian desserts. Traditional desserts like chè chui feature them prominently, but they can also be used in milk tea drinks like hot almond milk tea, taro milk tea, or Thai tea.

Do tapioca pearls need to be soaked?

To enhance the flavor and sweetness of cooked tapioca pearls, I recommend soaking them in sugar syrup or honey, as directed on the package.  

Is it possible to make bubble tea with white tapioca pearls?

White tapioca pearls can be used instead (they just need to be prepared differently), but for added sweetness, I recommend soaking them in sugar syrup or honey after cooking. But besides that, white tapioca pearls have a rather bland taste.

The question of why my tapioca pearls melted remains unanswered.

When left in a liquid for too long, pearls begin to dissolve. The time to serve and enjoy pearls is now.  

Ingredients used to create tapioca pearls

The tapioca flour and water used to make boba gives the spheres a chewy, rubbery texture.

The origin of the name Boba

Tapioca pearls, or "boba," are a popular ingredient in Asian milk teas. The tapioca pearls were first introduced to the public in Hong Kong, where they quickly earned the nickname "boba" due to their resemblance to large pearls.

What sets boba tea apart from bubble tea?

Bubble tea, also known as boba, is the same thing. While "boba" can mean both tapioca pearls and the milk tea they're typically served in, "bubble tea" is really just another name for the same thing.

Tapioca Pearls Pinterest Image
testing boba for doneness
  • Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.
  • When the water comes to a full rolling boil, add the tapioca pearls and let them rise to the surface. To keep the boba from burning, reduce the heat to medium once it has begun to float.
  • Put the lid back on and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. It's important to stir the pearls occasionally to keep them from sticking.
  • As soon as the first 30 minutes are up, take the pot off the heat, cover it, and let it sit for another 30 minutes.
  • To stop the cooking process and remove the starchy coating, strain the boba and rinse it under cold running water.
  • Check the doneness of the tapioca pearls by tasting them. They need to be tender and chewy, but not brittle. Don't assume something is raw because the middles look opaque. It is important to check the doneness of the food by tasting it to make sure that it has been cooked through.
  • Repeat steps 2–6 with fresh water if the pearls are still undercooked or have hard centers.
  • After the boba have finished cooking, sprinkle with sugar or honey and let sit for 10 minutes.
Calories: 182.5 kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.7 g | Protein: 0.1 g | Fat: 0.1 g | Sodium: 59.6 mg | Fiber: 0.3 g | Sugar: 13.3 g | Calcium: 43.1 mg | Iron: 0.6 mg
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