How to make tapioca pearls (bubble tea) at home

Very popular in various Asian cuisines, such as Taiwanese, tapioca pearls are useful for various preparations. Famous, mainly, for its use in the viral bubble tea or boba tea, making them at home is possible.

But first, we must talk about tapioca, an input that perhaps many in the West do not know. It is a starch that is extracted from the cassava roots, a very common tuber in South America that is also found in Africa and Asia.

tapioca pearls

With this element the aforementioned pearls are made, which offer a gelatinous texture and have a size that ranges from five millimeters to one centimeter. For many years they have been well appreciated in the cuisines of India, Taiwan, China and other nearby nations.

In such East Asian countries, the use of starch to make gelatinous preparations has been common for centuries. With the arrival of cassava to these lands thanks to the colonizers, tapioca gained ground as a cheaper and easier option to obtain than others such as sago pearls. The latter, obtained from various types of palm trees.

Tapioca pearls gained popularity in the world and on social networks thanks to bubble tea or boba tea. A sweet drink that is very loved among Taiwanese people and that little by little was making a space in Europe and America. In general terms, since the recipe can vary, it is made with a tea as a base, milk, fruits and starch spheres.

Beyond its popularity in the above mixture, pearls are an ingredient that can be appropriate in many recipes. This mainly in desserts, since its flavor is sweet due to the inputs that its preparation requires. On the other hand, given the variety of colors it can have, from black to translucent, they are a perfect element to decorate.

Related Recipe: How to make Meringue Milk

How to make tapioca pearls?


  • ½ cup tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour)
  • ¼ cup of water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 8¼ cups water to cook them
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar for cooking

how to make tapioca pearls


  • Add the water to a pot and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and continue boiling until the sugar has completely dissolved in the liquid.
  • Remove from the heat, add a little less than half of the tapioca flour and mix well. Then add the rest of the tapioca and stir again. Try to do this as quickly as possible, as it helps the dough form better.
  • Test the consistency of the dough. If it still lacks texture, add more starch, one tablespoon at a time. If it is very hard, do the same but with water.
  • Once you have the dough, let it rest for a while until it is cool enough to touch. Then sprinkle a little tapioca flour on a clean surface, knead the dough and roll it out until it is about 1.5 centimeters thick.
  • Take a sharp knife and cut the dough into 1.5-centimeter by 1.5-centimeter squares, rolling each square between the palms of your hands to form a ball. Pass them through a little flour again to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Proceed to cook the tapioca pearls. To do this, add the dried balls to a pot and cover with 8 cups of water, reserving ¼ cup for later. Cook over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, then reduce heat to low and leave for 5-10 minutes more. Depending on the time, the firmness of the pearls will vary.
  • While waiting for them to prepare, add sugar and the rest of the water to another pot and bring to a boil, cooking for about 5 minutes to make a syrup.
  • Constantly check both pans, and when the tapioca balls start rising to the water surface, remove them and put them in an ice bath for one minute.
  • When the sugar syrup is ready, it should be a little thick but still liquid. Once it has the right consistency, reduce the heat to low, remove the pearls out of the ice bath and add the sugar syrup to the pot, leaving them to cook for 6-8 minutes.
  • When the pearls are ready, remove them from the mixture. Use hot for any dessert or keep in the fridge in an airtight container.