Tapioca pearls are another name for Boba 波霸 and are made from tapioca which is derived from the cassava root. I spent six years in Taiwan and two of those years working for one of the biggest bubble tea shops in Taiwan where I learned how to cook authentic tapioca pearls.
A lot of people try to cook tapioca pearls only to have them become mushy and lifeless after about 30 minutes. This is mainly because the cooked boba are not properly stored after making them. For best results, you want to let your boba soak in a sweetner (sugar or honey) for about 30 minutes after cooking. Another important point is to only use your tapioca pearls for 4 hours (don’t store them overnight!).
How to Cook Tapioca Pearls
You have a couple of different options for cooking tapioca pearls. You can cook them in the traditional way with a stove and a pot or you can use a Automatic Boba Cooker but we’re going to focus on the traditional method in this article.
To cook tapioca pearls, you’ll just need a few things:
- Tapioca Pearls (Bubbles, Boba, 波霸, 珍珠)
- A pot
- Brown sugar (you can also use honey or white sugar)
Tapioca Pearl Cooking Instructions:
Cooking Time: 60 minutes Serves: 2-4
- Measure 100 grams of Tapioca Pearls *Expert Tip* Use a colander and shake them to remove any small pieces of tapioca or “tapioca dust” .
- Put 1000ml (4 1/4 cups) of water into a pot and bring it to a boil.
- Put the 100 grams of the tapioca balls into the water.
- Once the tapioca pearls begin to boil, stir them and start a timer for 25 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium and stir occasionally.
- While your tapioca pearls are boiling, it’s time to prepare your sugar syrup or honey to sweeten your boba.*One of the secrets to making really good tapioca pearls or boba is to make a sugar syrup to soak them in.
Tapioca Pearls Sugar Syrup Recipe:
Mix 25ml of hot water with 25g of brown sugar (if you don’t have any brown sugar you can use white sugar or honey).
Stir them until the sugar is dissolved and then put the syrup into a bowl.
Okay, back to your boiling boba!
- Once the timer goes off, turn off the heat and let the tapioca pearls sit for 10 minutes with the lid on.
- After 10 minutes, put the tapioca pearls into a strainer(colander) and rinse with cold water for about 2 minutes or until the tapioca balls are no longer hot.
- Let all the water drain from the strainer and put them in the bowl of sugar syrup.
Don’t eat your boba right away!
Let them sit for 15 minutes in the sugar syrup. This will give them time to absorb some of the sweet flavor and reach the best consistency.
**Notes: These cooking times are for medium sized tapioca balls. If your using smaller ones then reduce the time to 5 minutes. Increase the time for 15 minutes for larger ones.
***To increase the serving size just multiply all the ingredients by 2. e.g. 200g tapioca balls, 2 Liters of water(2000 ml), 50ml hot water, 50ml brown sugar.
How to Store Cooked Tapioca Pearls
We get a lot of questions about whether you can keep your cooked boba in the fridge over night or if you can use the same boba all day. The short answer is, NO!
Professional boba tea shops use their boba for 4 hours and will throw it out after that and they definitely do not store it over night. Making boba correctly is one of the hardest things to master as a bubble tea shop owner and it is what sets good bubble tea shops apart from the bad or mediocre ones.
**You need to use your boba within 4 hours after cooking, it not recommended to put cooked boba into a refrigerator and especially do not store it over night.**
Where to Get the Best Tapioca Pearls
There are a lot of bubble tea suppliers out there and it can be hard to choose the right one. The first thing that you want to do is make sure that their products all come from Taiwan (not China), bubble tea was invented in Taiwan and Taiwan has much better food safety practices than China.
Another option is to make your own boba with an Automatic Tapioca Pearl Maker. This machine takes dough made from tapioca starch and water and turns it into 9mm boba. With your own machine you can experiment with different flavors and colors to give your customers more variety and your store a competitive advantage.