tapioca pearls ingredients
25 September, 2021 | Bon Tea Cafe Updated 2021

Tapioca Pearls Ingredients: How To Make The Best Boba

For many years now, tapioca pearls have become one of the top favorites in shaved ice desserts, sweet dessert soups, and of course, bubble tea in Asia. And it even includes the Asian communities across the west. But did you know you can use tapioca pearls ingredients to make the best boba at home? 

You can cook some store-bought tapioca pearls in a few minutes. But the dried ones will take a longer time. And usually, these packaged tapioca pearls come with few to no instructions on how to prepare them. 

This guide will show you how to use tapioca pearls ingredients and how to make them correctly. We'll also include helpful tips you need to know in making your boba more delicious. 

Tapioca Pearls Ingredients: What Are They? 

Tapioca pearls, also known as tapioca balls or boba, are small spheres made from tapioca starch. Usually, these small chewy balls are black and are used for bubble tea. Even though the boba has a gelatinous texture, no gelatin is found in the creation process. 

So the tapioca pearls are typically vegan friendly. So naturally, these tapioca pearls are white and translucent. But since brown sugar and black food coloring is usually used in the process, it becomes the black color we see often. 

Black tapioca pearls were created solely for aesthetic purposes to differentiate between the color of milk tea

What Is Tapioca Starch? 

Tapioca starch is a gluten-free flour gotten from the cassava root plant. It's a native South American plant that arrived in Taiwan between 1895 and 1945 when the country was under Japanese rule. 

Tapioca starch is primarily known for making chewy and thick textures in dishes. 

Is Tapioca Starch The Same As Sago? 

Sago also comes in a chewy ball used in Asian desserts. But it's often smaller in size and made from different tropical palm stems. As a result, Sago is widely used across various Asian cuisines. 

Where Did Tapioca Pearls Come From? 

Black tapioca pearls were created as a cheaper version of Sago. Milk tea with tapioca pearls was first made in Taiwan in the 1980s. 

Tapioca Pearls Ingredients: What Does It Taste Like? 

tapioca pearls ingredients

Tapioca pearls have very little taste when you cook them alone. However, you can steep the tapioca balls in caramel syrup or make the brown sugar taste sweeter. Milk tea was a familiar beverage in the tea-drinking culture of East Asians. 

But people using tapioca pearls in deserts was already a widespread practice. The combination of both became famous when it was first introduced as a refreshing summer beverage and snack. 

Even though there's much dispute on the inventor of bubble tea, two stores in Taiwan stand on top, claiming they invented the drink. Unfortunately, none won the patent lawsuit, which allowed numerous vendors to make their version worldwide. 

What Is The Texture Of The Tapioca Pearls? 

The texture of tapioca pearls feels like that of gummy bears and jelly. In Taiwan, the texture is known as Q or QQ, which is quite challenging to translate. But it attempts to describe how soft the boba feels in your mouth, yet bouncy and resilient at the same time. 

Other dishes referred to as Q include mochi, fish balls, tangyuan, and taro balls

Tapioca Pearls Ingredients: Fresh Or Store-Bought? 

The main benefit of making tapioca pearls yourself is that you know what ingredients are inside them. Also, you can customize the pearls by making unique flavors like matcha pearls or mango boba. 

The downside is the time required to make the tapioca pearls. Sometimes, it's challenging to get the right consistency when you try it for the first few times. 

However, with the store-bought tapioca pearls, you can get a degree of texture and taste. These textures resemble those at various boba tea shops

Are Tapioca Pearls Ingredients Healthy? 

Tapioca pearls are full of starchy carbohydrates. This means the boba calories are dense, and they can be difficult to digest. As a result, Boba pearls contain small nutritional benefits. But it's generally safe when you consume them in moderation. 

Some manufacturers use thickeners, coloring, and preservatives to extend the shelf life and its appearance. But, unfortunately, these ingredients can cause gastrointestinal problems, especially when you consume them in larger quantities. 

Should You Use Food Coloring? 

When it comes to the tapioca pearls ingredients, most recipes recommend using black food coloring. And that's because it's the traditional method of tapioca pearls. Now, there's no problem if you want to use food coloring. 

However, for the recipe in the next section, we'll use brown sugar to replace the food coloring. That's because it's the best way to get a sweeter flavor and color simultaneously. 

How To Make Tapioca Pearls At Home

tapioca pearls ingredients

In this section, we'll show you how to make your tapioca pearls at home with just three ingredients. The best part is that you can customize the texture size and flavor. Let's begin. 


  • 100grams tapioca starch 
  • 50grams brown sugar 
  • 60ml water 


Preparing The Tapioca Starch 

  1. Boil the water and add brown sugar 
  2. When it's mixed well and bubbling, turn off the heat. Then add 40g of tapioca starch and carefully mix well. 
  3. As you mix, and the mixture is still hot, add the rest of the starch and mix again. Allow the starch mixture to cool a bit before moving to the next step. 
  4. Knead the dough on a flat surface. Remember to sprinkle some of the flour and roll the dough to about 1-1.5cm thick. 
  5. Cut the dough into 1.5cm by 1.5cm squares.
  6. Roll these squares in your hand into small ball shapes. Then, add some dry tapioca starch so that the balls don't stick together. 

Cooking The Tapioca Pearls 

  1. Boil eight cups of water and add the dry tapioca balls. Cook for 6-8 minutes on medium to high heat. 
  2. Turn down the heat and allow the tapioca pearls to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the boba pearls when you see them floating on the surface. 
  3. Boil 60ml of water and 80g of brown sugar in another saucepan for five minutes. It will turn to syrup. 
  4. Immediately add the black boba to an ice bath for one minute. 
  5. Put the tapioca pearls into the brown sugar syrup and put it on low heat. Allow the mixture to steep for at least 6-8 minutes or until the syrup thickens to your preferred consistency. Remember to stir occasionally. 
  6. You can add the mixture to your hot drinks. But if it's cold, allow the mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes. 


You need to be quick to add the second batch of flour. If not, it'll become dough. It's helpful to wear gloves while mixing the recipe because it can be hot. Also, keep an eye out for the brown sugar consistency.

We recommend that you add the boba into the syrup when the syrup is a bit runny and the consistency is thick. Different tapioca starch or brands can give you different consistencies. 

If it's not becoming a dough, add the starch in one tablespoon increment and mix well. If it's too dry, add more water, one tablespoon increment, and mix well. 

Final Thoughts 

Now that you know how to make boba using tapioca pearls ingredients, nothing stops you from creating your version. First, however, remember that the cooked boba pearls last four hours at room temperature. Refrigerated tapioca pearls, on the other hand, can last for three days. But you'll not get the original texture. So even though you can freeze boba, we suggest you do that because it won't be soft and chewy. Alternatively, you can order bubble tea online, and we'll gladly send it to you at your utmost convenience.