Keyword: Boba pearls, Brown sugar boba pearls, Brown sugar bubble tea, Bubble Tea, Gluten free
Prep Time: 3hours
Cook Time: 50minutes
Drying time (optional): 4hours
Total Time: 3hours50minutes
Author: Dini @ The Flavor Bender
Learn how to make homemade boba pearls (tapioca pearls). Easy recipe and better than store-bought, and makes the best brown sugar bubble tea or any kind of bubble tea! EASY - This is an easy recipe. However, shaping the boba pearls can be time consuming. One batch makes about 1 cup of uncooked boba pearls. Each batch is enough for 6 drinks.
5gculinary grade matcha powderor butterfly pea powder
Brown sugar syrup for (1 batch)
150gdark brown sugar¾ cup - I like to use a combination of dark brown sugar and muscavado sugar.
Substitute with white sugar for a clear sugar syrup.
Cold milksubstitute with a plant based milk to keep it vegan
Making boba pearls
Tapioca starch dough
Place the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Bring the water and sugar mixture to a boil. If you want to use food color to color the dough, add a few drops to the water at this stage.
While the water is coming to a boil, mix the cocoa powder (or matcha powder or butterfly pea powder if you're making those versions) and tapioca starch together if you’re making black or colored boba pearls.
As soon as the liquid comes to a proper boil, remove the pan from the heat.
Add roughly 3 - 4 tbsp of the tapioca starch (or tapioca starch + cocoa mix for black boba pearls), into the water. Whisk well (but quickly), to completely dissolve the starch in the water.
Return the mixture back to the stove, and heat over medium low heat while whisking quickly and constantly. If the dough is heating too quickly, you can momentarily remove it from the heat to whisk the dough to temper the heat.
The mixture will start to thicken and form a gelatinous mass within 2 - 3 minutes. This is your starter dough.
Add the rest of the tapioca starch to this, and fold it in to mix it as well as possible.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, smooth work surface. It is normal to have some dry spots of tapioca starch, and you may have a few lumps as well. These will disappear when you knead the dough. Scrape as much of the dough from the saucepan as possible.
The dough will be hot, so be careful when handling the dough. Knead the dough while it’s hot until you get a nice, smooth dough, that is still soft while warm, and a little tacky. Knead quickly, as the dough will harden as it cools down and become hard to knead.
The dough will be smooth, soft, and tacky while warm.
Optional - Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, and set aside until it comes to room temperature.You can still work with the dough while it's warm as well.
Dust your work surface very lighty, and roll out the tapioca dough until it’s about ¼ inch thick.
Cut 1 cm strips in one direction first. Then, cut 1 cm strips in the perpendicular direction. This will create small squares (see pictures in the post). You can also use a cooling wire rack to create the grid pattern, to use as a guide to cut the dough.
Cover the cut up squares in plastic wrap. Also, add some tapioca starch to a bowl and set aside.
Start rolling the small dough squares into balls, a little at a time (keep the rest of the squares covered in plastic wrap, as the dough can dry out quickly if exposed). Place each ball in the bowl with tapioca starch, and move it around to coat the ball.
Repeat with all the square pieces of dough. This is the time consuming step of the recipe.
If a piece of dough feels dry and doesn’t form into a smooth ball (and develops cracks), you can dip a finger in a little cold water and use it to moisten the piece of dough. This will make it easier to roll it up again.
When all the dough squares have been rolled into little balls and are coated in tapioca starch, place them on a quarter sheet pan (or half sheet pan).
Let them dry for 4 hours (if you want to store them for a long time). Then, at one hour intervals, use your palm to lightly roll the balls on the surface of the half sheet pan. After 4 hours, the pearls should be firm, and they will remain nice and round.
Store them in air-tight containers, or vacuum seal them and freeze for later.
Cooking the boba pearls
Measure out how much of the boba pearls that you will be cooking. Each batch will make about 1 cup of pearls, which should be enough for about 6 drinks. You can make as much or as little of the boba pearls as you like.
For every cup of boba pearls you're cooking, bring at least 4 cups of water to a boil (i.e. at least 4 times the volume of the boba pearls). I like to use about 5 - 6 cups. A covered pot will come to a boil faster as well.
When the water has come to a boil, remove the lid and add the boba pearls. Immediately start stirring to prevent the pearls from sticking to each other.
After the boba pearls float to the surface, let them cook for about 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are mostly translucent at the edges. Remove the pot from the heat. Cover the pot, and let the boba pearls sit for about 15 - 25 more minutes, until completely translucent or almost translucent.The cooking time will vary depending on how big and how dry the tapioca pearls are.
The cooking liquid might be thick at this stage, and this is natural.
Remove the tapioca pearls with a slotted spoon, and transfer them into a bowl with cold water.
Let them sit in the cold water for a few minutes to rest. At this point, they may also return to their original size.
Making the brown sugar syrup
In a clean saucepan, add the brown sugar/s and water.
Cook over medium heat while stirring with a spatula to dissolve the sugar, and then bring it to a boil.
Boil the mixture until it reaches the desired thickness / consistency.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the tapioca pearls from the cold water and transfer them into the saucepan.
Bring the sugar syrup back to a boil. Cook the syrup a little longer to thicken it. About 2 - 3 minutes. Cooking them further in the syrup will also turn the boba pearls completely translucent (if they weren't before). Then remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer to a glass jar.
The boba pearls are best used while warm (since they harden as they cool down).
Making brown sugar bubble tea
Place 2 - 4 tbsp of boba pearls WITH the brown sugar syrup, in a glass.
Using a spoon, drag the brown sugar syrup along the inside wall of the glass to create streaks. This is optional, but does make the drink look visually better.
Add a few cubes of ice, and top with milk.
Serve immediately with a boba straw. Stir well before drinking.
If the dough is crumbly, then too much tapioca was added. Just add a little water (a few drops at a time to make it softer).If the tapioca pearls crack when you roll them, moisten your hands with just the smallest amount of water and roll the pearls in your palms. This will make them smooth again.If the dough is too soft, the resulting boba pearls may not retain a good shape when you cook them. The dough needs to have the correct texture of being firm, but not cracked.It's important to adjust the starch / water levels in the dough to get the correct consistency. If you boil the water at the beginning for too long, you may end up with a drier dough (with not enough water). It will be easier to roll the boba pearls smoothly, IF the dough is warm as well. Adjust the cooking times to the size of the boba pearls, and consistency of the dough.