What is Boba? How to Cook it Perfectly?
*Left to right: Ceylon Black Milk Tea w/regular boba, Assam Black Milk Tea w/strawberry popping boba, Roasted Oolong Milk Tea w/matcha agar boba.
Originating from Taiwan in the 1980’s, the popularity of Boba has soared since the early days as a beverage inclusion. Nowadays, boba tea is a worldwide phenomenon, but even its most ardent fans may not know much about the chewy black balls at the core of the drink.
Boba, (aka tapioca pearls), are a staple of the growing bubble tea market. Although the exact inventor is unknown, boba became popularized in Taiwan through small local tea shops. Boba is tapioca starch, which comes from the root of the Cassava plant. Many believe “boba” is referring to the pearls themselves, but it’s actually about the way the tea is shaken with all the ingredients together, forming a foam or bubbles at the top of the cup.
Before cooking, tapioca balls are dry, powdery and crumbly, like a very dry dough. However, it is actually about 20-25% water. This also makes storing the tapioca very important because improperly sealed, tapioca’s water content will evaporate and the resulting tapioca will be hard and only partially-cooked. Uncooked tapioca appears to have white/yellowish starchy dots in the center.
Cooking and Marinating Boba
You will need:
- Tapioca Pearls (2.3mm)
- Brown Sugar
- Longan Honey
- Measure out the amount of tapioca you want to cook.
- In a pot, measure out 6 times that amount of water (If you are cooking smaller potions, please increase the water amount) 1:6
- Bring the water to a boil on stove
- Put the large tapioca into the pot and gently stir. (Make sure nothing is sticking to the pot or together)
- Boil it on high for about 25-30 minutes with lid closed (If cooking 2.5mm, please cook for 35 and steam for 35)
- Once it is done boiling, turn off the flame and let it sit with lid closed for about 25 minutes or more
- Once done, take the boba out and drain the water. Lightly rinse in warm water to wash away all the sticky residue
- Flavor with raw cane sugar and logan honey to taste, let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Use enough sugar that it creates a syrup nearly covering the boba, and avoid dryness.
Other than milk tea, boba is now also commonly used as a topping or garnish for dessert. What is your boba’s perfect match?
- Artur Bobinski