Food & Drink

What are Boba Pearls?

Boba pearls what are they? Boba pearls also referred to as Tapioca balls is simply a starch that is extracted from cassava root. Boba pearls are translucent spheres about the size of a marble. Boba pearls can be white and translucent or even black and that depends on the particular ingredients used.

It is important to note that the history of tapioca balls can be traced back to around 1986. It is commonly believed that boba pearls originated from Tainan, Taiwan. However, you should understand that in terms of the particular shop and city that boba pearls originated from, there are conflicting stories. By around 1990s, boba pearls were already popular in East and Southeast Asia.

In North America, boba pearls became popular first in neighborhoods with mainly the Asian population before eventually finding its way into other neighborhoods nationwide.

What are boba pearls made of?

Boba pearls are usually made using cassava starch. The starch is gluten-free and it is converted into edible pearls and flour. White boba pearls are made using caramel, starch, and chamomile extract. The black version of boba pearls, which is the most popular, is made using starch, sweet potato, and brown sugar.

It is important to note that boba pearls can be made to vary in terms of texture and color, depending upon the particular ingredients used.

How to make boba pearls

It is possible for you to make boba pearls at home. Home preparation of boba pearls enables you to avoid the use and consumption of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and commercial colors.

To make boba pearls, you will need ingredients such as tapioca starch or flour and water. Those are the main ingredients. You may also decide to use black food coloring if you want.

I. Pour water into a kettle or pot

You should then boil the water of about 79ml. You should note that in our situation, you only need about 59ml of the boiling water for the dough. So, you should give it enough time for the excess boiling water to evaporate.

II. Place tapioca starch or flour into a bowl

The tapioca starch or flour of about a half a cup should be placed in a bowl that is heat-proof. Then, you are required to carefully pour in the boiling water of about 59ml into the bowl containing starch. In case you are using food color, you can mix it with a tablespoon of boiling water. The colored water must also be poured inside the bowl.
Tapioca starch can be purchased from local Asian markets or grocery store’s baking aisle.

III. Combine the ingredients

You have to combine the ingredients used by stirring the mixture. You can use a spoon, a fork, or even chopsticks to stir the mixture of boiling water and tapioca starch. That should be done until the dry powder disappears and the mixture sticks together. The resultant mixture should appear somewhat dry and chunky.

IV. Knead the mixture

The resultant mixture should be transferred to a flat surface and kneaded to make a dough that is thick and firm. Before you can knead the mixture, ensure that it is cool enough to be handled by your hands. Kneading should take about 1 minute.

Understand that if the dough is too sticky thus making handling tricky, you can always sprinkle just a little more starch over and into the dough. Also, remember that if your dough is dyed then it should be placed on parchment paper or plastic mat to avoid staining.

V. Shaping the pearls

  • You are required to place a baking sheet that is trimmed close to the work surface. Rimmed baking sheet discourages rolling off the pearls in case the sheet needs to be moved. The bowl containing the dough should be covered using a damp towel to prevent the drying out of the dough even as you roll the pearls.
  • You then place the dough on the work surface and employ the use of your palms to roll the dough into a long and evenly-sized rope. This process you should repeat until the dough is over.
  • Once you have long strips of dough, you have to cut them into pearls. To cut the boba pearls from the dough strips, you can use a bench scraper or a sharp knife. You can make the pearls round by rolling them in between your palms.
  • You can make the boba pearls to be of any size you prefer. Just note that as the pearls cook, they are able to swell a little. The diameter of most standard boba pearls before they are cooked is usually from 0.4 to 0.8 in.
  • Leave the boba pearls for about 2 hours on the baking sheet. Ensure that the pearls do not dry sticking together. Since the pearls are able to dry, this helps prevents possible from sticking together when you are boiling them.

VI. Set a saucepan or pot on the stove

The water or saucepan should be poured with water and the water boiled. Once the water is vigorously boiling, add the pearls inside and let them boil for about 15 or 20 minutes. You should cook the pearls until the consistency desired (soft or chew) is achieved. The pearls tend to be darker the more they are cooked. Once the pearls are half-cooked, you will see them floating to the top.

The pearls should be placed on the boiling water slowly to avoid the water splashing and ensure that the pearls are submerged completely.

VII. Scoop the pearls from the boiling water

You should first turn off the source of heat before using a slotted spoon for scooping the pearls. The boba pearls should be transferred to a bowl and left to cool a little. The pearls will shrink to their original size. If you want to sweeten the pearls, you should add them into sugar tea syrup and left that way for about an hour.

You should use the pearls on the same day you have boiled them since with time they become tough and stick together. Perhaps this video “how to cook boba pearl” below could help you out.

What does boba pearl taste like?

Boba pearls usually do not taste like anything. While they are chewy, they are relatively flavorless. The only time boba pearls becomes sweeter is after mixing them in simple sugar syrup. You should understand that the real flavor emanates from the drink itself and not from the pearls. In fact, the pearls are used majorly for their gummy, chewy texture and not their taste.

what does boba pearl taste like

Can boba pearl cause cancer?

Boba pearl does not cause cancer. The initial findings of a study done by German researchers alleging boba pearl caused cancer was taken out of context. Even though Boca pearls contain traces of styrene and acetophenone, this does not make them toxic or pose a health risk. In fact, the main concern of boba pearls is that they are rich in carbohydrates and this can contribute to a diet that is unhealthy.

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