Food & Drinks

What Are the Black Balls in Boba Drinks? (Bubble Tea)

What Are The Black Balls In The Boba Drink?

Boba drink, or bubble tea, has risen to fame in recent years, and the exotic looks and abundance of flavors add to its charms. But that’s not all. The option of having it suited to your desires is the best thing about this tea, meaning you can have a flavor unique to your taste.

But what sets this drink apart from the rest is the presence of boba, which are the black balls in the tea, and these are edible and can be black or in other colors.

However, the most popular and common choice is the black color, which gives it a mesmerizing look with its light texture and sweet flavor.

Therefore, have you ever wondered what the black balls in the boba drink are? If yes, then you have come to the right place.

Black balls in the Boba drink are known as Tapioca pearls or boba, from where its name originates. These are flavorless balls and need external flavoring to add to their texture. The texture of these pearls can go from firm to chewy based on their preparation, and cassava root is involved in making these black pearls.

Here, we will explain all you need to know about these pearly blacks, from their making to their varieties. That’s why; stay tuned for more.

Tapioca Pearls – All You Need To Know

Tapioca Pearls - All You Need To Know

The origin of tapioca pearls lies in Taiwan, and it started from a small stand around the early 1980s. Also, good news for our vegan friends, who are strict about their vegan diet, these pearls are vegan-friendly.

The secret of making these tapioca pearls lies in the starch (or tapioca starch) obtained from the cassava root, and the surprising fact is that naturally, these pearls are white or translucent. The black color comes from food coloring or brown sugar, which is added to make these tapioca balls sweet.

All these things may seem to complicate the procedure for preparing these pearls, but it is relatively simple to prepare them at home. All you need is the right ingredients and follow the steps mentioned ahead.

How To Make Tapioca Pearls

How To Make Tapioca Pearls

For a one-cup serving of bubble tea, the following are the ingredients you need to prepare tapioca pearls:

  • Three to four tablespoons of tapioca starch (approx. 50 grams)
  • One to two tablespoons of brown sugar (roughly 25 grams)
  • Three tablespoons of water (1.5 ounces)


  1. Start the process by taking a pot and pouring an ounce of water in it with one tablespoon of brown sugar.
  2. Heat the mixture, and ensure that it is well mixed before adding tapioca starch.
  3. Tone down the heat, add half of the tapioca starch at the start, then the rest after small intervals.
  4. Stir the mixture until you see a sticky dough forming, and let it rest for a while.
  5. Knead the mixture to a consistent form (of your desired size, generic size of tapioca pearls range between 1mm-8mm). Cut the dough with a knife and roll these into a ball shape.
  6. To prevent these pearls from agglomerating, sprinkle tapioca starch powder on them.
  7. And no, you are not done. You still have to cook these pearls. Bring a cup of water to boiling in a separate pot, add the prepared pearls, and cook at high heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Reduce the heat, and continue cooking at low heat till these pearls rise to the top.
  9. On the other end, prepare brown sugar syrup. Cool the boba pearls and cook them by immersing them in the brown sugar syrup.
  10. On a low flame, cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes, and you are done. You have your homemade tapioca pearls ready from scratch.
Editor’s Note

To make a larger serving of tapioca pearls, increase the number of ingredients proportionally to the serving size.

Store-Bought and Homemade Tapioca

Store-Bought And Homemade Tapioca

Instead of going through the trouble of preparing these tapioca pearls, you have the option of getting these pearls from your local tea shop. However, the problem of not knowing the ingredients persists.

Contrarily you have the option of preparing these pearls however you want. You can use different flavorings or syrups and even tinker with the starch to make different varieties of boba pearls. Also, you can adjust the consistency of these pearls based on their final cooking time.

But they require practice to get the consistency to your taste and take time to make.

Varieties of Boba Pearls

Varieties Of Boba Pearls

There are several hundred, if not thousands, varieties of boba pearls, and this categorization is based on the size of these pearls, flavorings, types of ingredients used to make them, etc. But the two most popular types are;

Tapioca Pearls

Tapioca pearls are the most common variety of boba pearls. These can be smaller or bigger in size, transparent, black, in other colorful forms, or flavored.

In most tea shops worldwide, tapioca pearls are the most used form for a bubble tea.

Popping Boba

Popping boba has gained popularity because of its blast of flavors as you eat these boba balls. The texture of popping boba is usually jelly-like, with the inside packing the taste, most commonly fruity flavors. As the ball pops, it lets out the flavor, which gives it its name.

Storing Tapioca Pearls

Storing Tapioca Pearls

At room temperature, you can expect your cooked pearls to last between 3-4 hours before losing their texture. Also, you can freeze them to make these boba balls last longer, e.g., in the freezer, but it isn’t without a catch, i.e., flavorings and texture is lost.

On the other hand, uncooked tapioca pearls can last as long as three months. You have to consider the storing conditions if you want to achieve such a long-lasting shelf-life, e.g., store away from sunlight, in a dry, cool place, and in an airtight container.


Lastly, now you know all there is to know about the black balls in the boba drink. These pearls are made from tapioca starch and can be black, transparent, or in other colors.

The texture of tapioca pearls can go from jelly-like to crunchy, and their size ranges between one to eight millimeters. Also, they are flavorless but can have different flavorings based on additives, which again emphasizes the customizability of boba tea.

You can make these pearls from simple ingredients at home and store them for up to three months (uncooked), or get them from your local bubble tea shop to relish them with your coffee, milk, or tea.