Making your own tapioca pearls should not consume so much time and energy as it is easy to prepare. In this post, you will learn how to produce boba balls or tapioca pearls from scratch.
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Milk tea businesses have been growing these past few years. A lot of variations are already introduced to the public and it is even more fun with the addition of tapioca boba pearls, commonly known as tapioca pearls into the drink. They are know as Bubble tea or boba tea.
There are lots of recipes created on how to recreate your own milk tea, along with how to have your homemade boba pearls/tapioca pearls. The recipe provided below is very easy to follow and should yield the best possible tapioca pearls for your milk tea.
Make Tapioca Boba Balls
Let’s have some fun and learn how to make tapioca pearls by following the steps provided. First, get these recommended ingredients:
For a batch of brown sugar boba pearls:
50g of dark brown sugar or ¼ cup
60g of water or ¼ cup
100g of tapioca starch (sifted)
For a batch of black tapioca pearls:
50g of dark brown sugar or ¼ cup
60g of water or ¼ cup
95g of tapioca starch (sifted)
5g of dark cocoa powder
Black food coloring (optional)
For Matcha boba pearls or butterfly pea pearls:
50g of white sugar or ¼ cup
60g of water or ¼ cup
5g of culinary grade matcha powder or butterfly pea powder
95g of tapioca starch (sifted)
For a batch of brown sugar syrup:
240g of water or 1 cup
150g of dark brown sugar of ¾ cup
Muscovado sugar (optional)
White sugar (for a clear syrup)
Steps to make tapioca starch dough for boba pearls:
- In a small saucepan, place the brown sugar and water and heat over medium heat. Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar. Bring the water and sugar mixture to a boil.
- Add food coloring for your dough if you intend to use it once the mixture boils. Just add a few drops into the boiling water.
- As the water starts to boil, add the cocoa powder (if you’re making black or colored boba pearls) and tapioca starch together. Use matcha powder or butterfly pea powder if you’re making those types of boba pearls.
- Once the water starts to get a rolling boil or has reached the proper boiling point, remove the pan from the heat.
- Add about 3 – 4 tbsp of the tapioca starch into the water and whisk quickly well to completely dissolve the starch in the water. For black boba pearls, you can add tapioca starch + cocoa mix.
- Put back the pan with the mixture to the stove and heat over medium low heat while whisking quickly and constantly. Remove it from the heat if the dough is heating too quickly and put it back while whisking the dough to regulate the heat.
- Once the mixture starts to thicken and form a gelatinous mass within 2 – 3 minutes, this means you have your starter dough.
- Add the rest of the tapioca starch to this dough and fold it in to mix it as well as you can.
- On a clean and smooth work surface, roll out your dough. Note: You might notice some dry spots of tapioca starch and you may have a few lumps as well. Don’t worry as that is normal. Once you knead the dough, they will disappear. Just make sure to scrape as much of the dough from the saucepan as possible.
- When handling the dough, be careful as it might be too hot. Knead your dough while it’s hot until you get a nice and smooth texture on the dough. It should be soft while warm, and a little tacky. Since the dough will harden as it cools down and becomes hard to knead, knead it quickly as you can. To keep it smooth, soft, and tacky while warm, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and set aside until it comes to room temperature.
- To start cutting your tapioca dough, dust your work surface very lightly. Roll out the tapioca dough until it’s about ¼ inch thick.
- Start cutting 1 cm strips in one direction, then cut 1 cm strips in the perpendicular direction to produce small squares. You can also create the grid pattern by using a cooling wire rack. This will help in guiding you to cut the dough.
- Using a plastic wrap, cover the cut square dough in a bowl. Make sure to add some tapioca starch to a bowl and set aside.
- Start rolling the small dough squares into balls one at a time. You should keep the rest of the squares covered in plastic wrap to avoid getting a dry dough due to air exposure.
- Get the bowl with tapioca starch and place each ball into the bowl. Coat the rolled balls by moving it around the tapioca starch. Repeat this process with all the square pieces of dough.
- Dip a finger in a little cold water if the squared dough feels dry and doesn’t form into a smooth ball or if cracks develop. This will moisten the piece of dough and will make it easier to roll it up again.
- Once all dough squares have been rolled into balls and coated in tapioca starch, place them on a quarter sheet pan or half sheet pan.
- If you want to store them for a long time, let the rolled balls dry for 4 hours. Use your palm to lightly roll the balls on the surface of the half sheet pan at one hour intervals. After 4 hours, you should have tapioca pearls that are firm. They will remain nice and round.
- Use an airtight container to store your fresh boba pearls. You can also vacuum seal them and freeze for later use.
How to Cook Boba Pearls?
The next thing you will need to do on your homemade boba pearls is to cook them. Here are the simple steps that you can follow:
- Get the right amount of tapioca pearls that you will need to be cooked. 1 cup of pearls should be enough for about 6 drinks. You can also lessen the amount of tapioca pearls depending on your needs.
- Put some water on a cooking pot with a lid and bring it to a boil. A cup of tapioca pearls will need at least 4 cups of water.
- Once the water starts to boil, remove the lid and add the tapioca pearls. Stir it right away to avoid the tapioca pearls from sticking to each other.
- Cook tapioca pearls for about 30 – 40 minutes once they start to float to the surface. Stir them occasionally until they are mostly translucent at the edges.
- Remove the pot from the heat and don’t remove its lid. let the tapioca pearls sit for about 15 – 25 more minutes. The cooking time may vary depending on how dry the tapioca pearls/boba pearls are. They should be completely translucent or almost translucent.
- You might notice that the liquid starts to get sticky. That is normal at this point.
- Prepare a bowl with cold water. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tapioca pearls and transfer them into a bowl with cold water.
- Let the cooked tapioca pearls sit in the cold water for a few minutes to rest. The cooked pearls will also return to their original size, but they should already have that chewy texture of tapioca balls.
How to Make Brown Sugar Syrup?
Brown sugar syrup is essential to make your own bubble tea or milk tea with tapioca pearls. You should be able to make your own by following these steps:
- Get a clean saucepan and add the brown sugars and water.
- Over medium heat, cook the mixture while stirring with a spatula to dissolve the sugar and bring it to a boil.
- Keep on boiling until the mixture reaches the desired thickness or consistency.
- Remove the tapioca pearls from the cold water using a slotted spoon and transfer them into the saucepan with the brown sugar syrup.
- Cook the syrup a little longer to thicken it and bring it to another boil about 2 – 3 minutes. If the tapioca pearls were not completely translucent, you will notice that they will become completely clear as you cook them further.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the cooked tapioca pearls to a glass jar.
How to Make Brown Sugar Bubble Tea?
Since it is best to use the cooked tapioca pearls while they are warm as they harden as they cool down, why not make your own brown sugar bubble tea right away. Here are the steps:
- In a glass, place about 2-4 tbsp of tapioca pearls with brown sugar syrup.
- Spread the brown sugar syrup along the inside wall of the glass using a spoon to create streaks. This is to make the appearance nicer but it is optional to do.
- Add a few cubes of ice into the glass and top with milk. Stir well before drinking and serve immediately with a boba straw.
Can We Use Commercial Tapioca Balls?
You might wonder if it is good to use those tapioca balls that you can buy at supermarkets or at a bubble tea shop instead of homemade tapioca pearls. Obviously, yes that is actually recommended for those people who are always busy.
If you are one of those who want to have instant bubble tea at home and don’t have time making tapioca pearls, you can buy them at your local store or online. Some of the best recommendations for ready to use tapioca pearls are Tea Zone Chewy Tapioca Boba and Mayde Bursting Popping Boba Pearls.
Feel free to check them by clicking on the links provided.
Tapioca pearls or tapioca balls are small, edible orbs that are slightly smaller than marbles. They are popular in Southeast Asian cuisine as they are usually used for different desserts and drinks, such as boba milk tea, in this region.
They are made from cassava starch of cassava roots. This gives tapioca pearls their chewy and translucent characteristic. The cassava starch also has neutral flavors, that’s why it is perfect to be paired with sugar to sweeten it.
They have been used in bubble teas, and the black tapioca pearls are the popular variety being used, though there are other color options such as the brown sugar boba. Tapioca pearls are cooked using tapioca starch and water.
Nothing beats fresh tapioca pearls as they are faster and have better texture. But what will you do if you have excessive tapioca pearls in your kitchen?
If you have uncooked or raw tapioca pearls left, you can easily keep them for future use. Use an airtight container to store the excess uncooked tapioca pearls. But there are things that you have to remember before storing them.
You must completely dry the raw tapioca pearls before storing them. Just place the tapioca pearls on a plate and just leave them on the kitchen counter for a day or two to dry up completely. Then you can already transfer the dried tapioca pearls to your storage jar.
In case there are extra cooked tapioca pearls that can’t be used, place them on a container with a lid and add sugar syrup or water to cover. You can refrigerate these tapioca pearls for up to 3 days. You can also place the cooked tapioca pearls in a Ziplock bag or vacuum container and freeze them for longer storage. When you’re ready to use your stored tapioca pearls, simply add them to boiling water and reheat for 5 minutes.
You might be asking if you can use corn starch for your homemade tapioca pearls as they might have the same appearance as the starch made from a cassava root. But it is not recommended as they don’t produce the same texture, nor the cassava or tapioca flour, glutinous rice flour or regular flour.
You also need to check the brand of tapioca starch as they may provide different texture and fineness. When making tapioca pearls, you should have boiling hot water, not just hot water. The boiling hot water will cook the part it touches and will turn it into a transparent slime texture in seconds that is useful while you fold in the rest of the starch to make the dough.