How To Cook Tapioca Pearls For Boba Tea: A 7-Step Guide

Learn how to cook tapioca pearls for boba tea so you can enjoy this refreshing drink anytime, anywhere. 

How to cook tapioca pearls for boba tea?
Tapioca pearls are small round balls about the size of marbles with dark black color when cooked

Boba tea is a delicious, sweet drink that originated in Taiwan. It has taken off in popularity in recent years and can be found all over the world. Its popularity has especially grown in the United States, where specialty shops can be found in many cities. Tapioca pearls are made from tapioca starch, which comes from the roots of the cassava plant. They’re small round balls about the size of marbles with a dark black color when cooked. 

Living in Taiwan for a year, I drank my fair share of tea both with and without boba. The first time I tried bubble tea, the tiny bobas intrigued me. The texture is something you either love or hate. They are chewy like gummy candy with a slight caramel taste. 

Upon returning home to the States, I missed bubble tea and wanted to make my own version. So, I went on a quest to replicate the bubble milk tea. If you’re like me you might have thought it was impossible to make these yourself. 

However, through some trial and error, I have discovered how to make these lovely tapioca pearls for my own boba tea at home. I’ll tell you how to cook tapioca pearls for boba tea by following these easy steps.

If you love bubble tea, you might also be interested in our guide on the best places to buy crystal boba.

How To Cook Tapioca Pearls for Boba Tea

Materials Needed

  • Bag of dried tapioca pearls (they can be found at your local Asian market or online retailers)
  • 1 large pot for boiling water
  • Water
  • A spoon for stirring
  • Colander or slotted spoon for draining
  • 1 medium-sized bowl
  • Ice water
  • Sugar syrup 

Step 1: Gather Ingredients And Materials 

Begin by gathering all your ingredients and materials together. Organize your materials, so you’re ready for each additional step as time goes by quickly once you start. 

Step 2: Start Boiling Water In A Large Pot

Start boiling water in a large pot
Use a large pot so you have enough room to boil the bubbles

Fill the pot with 3 cups of water for every cup of dried tapioca pearls. Make sure you have a pot big enough to accommodate the water and tapioca pearls without it boiling over. 

It’s best to use a large pot so you don’t have to worry about making a mess or not having enough room to boil the tapioca pearls, also called bubbles or boba.

Step 3: Add Tapioca Pearls To Boiling Water

Once your water comes to a full, rolling boil, add the dry tapioca pearls. Be careful not to burn yourself on the steam coming from the boiling water. 

Lower heat and simmer at medium heat until the tapioca pearls are soft and translucent, for about 9-10 minutes. Depending on the consistency you want, reduce or extend the boba’s cooking time.

Step 4: Stir To Avoid Sticking

Stir occasionally to prevent the tapioca pearls from sticking together or to the bottom of your pot. You should be stirring every minute or so. 

Be careful when stirring because the water will still be boiling at this stage. Once they get close to being finished, they will float on top of the water.

Step 5: Prepare The Ice Bath

While the tapioca pearls are simmering, fill a medium-sized bowl with ice water.  You can make an ice bath by filling a bowl with some water and adding the ice cubes directly to the water.

Step 6: Use A Colander To Drain The Tapioca Pearls

Use a colander to drain the tapioca pearls
Drain the water into the colander and carefully add them to the prepared ice bath

When you notice that the tapioca pearls are soft and translucent, remove them from the stove. I find the ideal time for me is in the 9-10 minute range. 

Drain the water and carefully add them to your prepared ice bath. The ice bath will help the boba stop cooking and prevent them from getting too mushy. Or, if you don’t have a colander you can use a slotted spoon to scoop them into the ice bath

Step 7: Add Sugar Syrup To The Cooked Tapioca Pearls

Once the tapioca pearls have cooled, drain them once again. Return them to your empty medium-sized bowl and add sugar syrup. Gently toss to coat until well-coated. Now they are ready to add to any of your favorite bubble teas!

If you liked this article you’ll love What Are The Best Tapioca Pearls For Boba Tea?


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.