Learn how to make boba pearls with this simple tutorial with natural ingredients at home. 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.
What are boba pearls?
Boba pearls are made of tapioca starch come from cassava root (木薯). They are the key ingredient in boba milk tea, which has obtained great popularity across the world now. 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.
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 brown sugar. We usually soak boba pearls in syrup to get a sweet taste.
How to use Boba Pearls
- the most popular way of using boba pearls is to make a boba milk tea.
- You can add it to a smoothie.
- Boba can also be used as a decoration for cakes, ice cream, and desserts.
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
About the starch
- 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.
- 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 cooked. Becomes quite soft and shapeless. So please follow the steps exactly. I highly suggest watching the video and reading the recipe before starting since we don't get too much time for thinking during the process.
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.
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.
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.
Divide the dough into four parts and then shape one portion into a thin and long log. Cut into small cubes.
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.
In 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 in air-tight bags and freeze for later use.
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 cold water (they shrink to their original size immediately).
Drain and mix with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar syrup or honey to avoid sticky together.
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.
How to assemble a brown sugar boba drink| drizzle some brown sugar syrup in the serving cup, 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
For boba pearls
- 1 cup around 135g tapioca starch , + 2 tbsp. more for adjusting and coating
- 6 tbsp. water 90ml
- 60 g brown sugar
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.
- 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!