I was making boba milk tea one day and realized that I have always bought boba pearls (tapioca pearls) and never thought of making them myself. I found out that boba pearls only consist of three simple ingredients, tapioca starch, water, and brown sugar. Thankfully we had all the ingredients at home, and I was able to make them. After I tried making boba pearls from scratch I found out that it was surprisingly simple and very tasty.
Although the original recipe uses Chinese black sugar, I used dark brown sugar the first time I made them and it turned out great. The steps are simple but forming the boba pearls take a while, so make sure you have some time to spare.
1. First, let’s gather all the ingredients.
2. In a pot on medium heat, add 1/4 cup of water.
3. Add in 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar or Chinese black sugar. Use either sugar that is easily accessible to you.
4. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
5. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to the lowest setting.
6. Add the 2 tbsp of tapioca starch.
7. Stir until the tapioca starch mixture is smooth. Then turn the heat back up to medium.
8. Vigorously stir the mixture until it becomes a gooey paste. Then turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove.
9. Pour the gooey paste into a bowl to stop it from cooking.
10. Add 3/4 cup of tapioca starch.
11. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is cool enough to handle.
12. Occasionally stop stirring and check to see if the dough is cool enough to handle.
13. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, knead the clumps together by pushing and folding the pieces.
14. If you have a stand mixture or bread maker to knead the dough, feel free to use it. But since it was a small batch of dough I used my hands to knead the dough.
15. Once the dough forms into a ball, cut it in half. Then wrap one of the halves with plastic wrap. Wrapping the half you’re not working will prevent the dough from drying out.
16. Then sprinkle your work surface with some tapioca starch. Roll out the dough into ½ inch logs, which is about the thickness of a pencil.
17. As you roll out the dough it will get longer so you can cut them into manageable lengths.
18. Then cut the logs into pea-size pieces and form them into balls, by gently rolling the pieces between your hands.
19. Place the tapioca balls into a bowl with the remaining tapioca starch. Don’t make the tapioca balls bigger than the size of a pea, because they will expand when cooked. You can make them bigger, but it won’t go through a boba straw.
20. Then dust off the extra tapioca starch from the tapioca pearls.
21. You can choose to cook the boba pearls or freeze them. If you are not immediately cooking the boba pearls, store it in an airtight bag in the freezer.