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How to make Black Tapioca Pearls for Bubble Tea (Milk Tea)

Learn how to make black tapioca pearls (boba pearls) from scratch with this simple tutorial. It is so easy and fun to make and much better than using the dried one.

Tapioca Pearls by Foxy Folksy

In my last post, I shared my easy, simple version of how to make Bubble Tea using all natural and basic ingredients. I also mentioned that I made my own black tapioca pearls.

The reason for this is because after we came back from our Taipei trip, Armin seems to be craving for Bubble Tea. And since I was getting fed up waiting in long queues at milk tea stands whenever we see one, I decided that it is time to make my own Bubble tea at home.

The problem is, I cannot find black tapioca pearls and believe me we’ve searched everywhere! Maybe they are available in the big city (Manila) but not anywhere near where we live. I found the usual dried sago and even the colorful ones but no black tapioca pearls. We even went as far as asking the tea shops where they get theirs and was told it is delivered to them together with the other supplies and that is all we can get out of them.

I was left with but two choices; to use the regular dried sago or to learn how to make tapioca pearls and I, being me, chose the latter.

I have a pack of the small dried tapioca pearls in my pantry so I looked up what the ingredients are. I was surprised to see that it only needs one. Tapioca flour! Now, that sounds promising, at least. I was not able to find tapioca flour though but saw some tapioca starch, which is mostly the same thing.

This post from Instructables on how to make tapioca pearls help me get started. Very good tutorial there and it works perfectly for making regular white/transparent tapioca pearls. But how do I make them black?

Leslie did mention cooking the pearls in colored water and letting them sit in it after cooking. I tried it and it did somehow turn my pearls to a  blackish hue but only on the surface and the core remained white. My goal is to have them as black as the ones you get in the milk tea shops. This means a little more experiments are needed.

I tried adding the color to the water to make the tapioca dough. It was tricky because the water should be really hot, like just-boiled hot, when you add it to the tapioca flour or starch so you have to work fast or else you will get a weird texture that is wet but powdery at the same time (doesn’t make sense, I know, but believe me, it is possible) and will never form into a dough.

So for those who have patiently waited for this tutorial, here are the steps involved in making homemade black tapioca pearls.

How to make Tapioca Pearls by Foxy Folksy

1. Place tapioca flour or starch in a bowl.

2. Place black food color in a separate bowl and add a tablespoon of hot water to the food color.

3. Add the rest of the water directly to the tapioca flour and pour the colored water to the bowl as well.

How to make Tapioca Pearls by Foxy Folksy

4. Mix tapioca flour and water with a fork until they start to stick together.

5. Transfer to a flat surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.

How to make Tapioca Pearls by Foxy Folksy

6. Divide the dough into 2 and roll each forming thin sticks. Cut them into small pieces. Try to make them as even in size as possible and should be small enough to pass through your straw.

7. Roll each piece in between your palms to make them round.

8. Bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil in a small pot or saucepan.

9. Add the tapioca pearls to the boiling water and let it cook for 15 minutes or longer until the desired consistency (soft or chewy) is achieved. They will also become darker as they cook.

10. Remove from heat and let it rest for a few minutes. They will shrink back to the original size and will turn black at this point.

11. Transfer tapioca pearls into a sugar syrup or a bowl with a little water to prevent them from sticking together.

It was really a lot of fun doing these homemade tapioca pearls, like playing with clay or play-doh so I think this will be a good and fun kiddie project.

I also find that they are much better than the dried ones. They cook faster, for one and I like the chewy texture that is exactly like the one they use in bubble teas we had in Taipei.

How to make Tapioca Pearls by Foxy Folksy

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Homemade Boba Pearls by Foxy Folky
5 from 8 votes

How to make Black Tapioca Pearls (Boba) from scratch.

Learn how to make black tapioca pearls (boba pearls) from scratch with this simple tutorial. It is so easy and fun to make and much better than using the dried one.
Print Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: tapioca pearls
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 79kcal
Author: Bebs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons freshly boiled water
  • black food color

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place tapioca flour or starch in a bowl. Place black food color in a separate bowl and add a tablespoon of hot water to the food color. Add the rest of the water directly to the tapioca flour and pour the colored water to the bowl as well.
  • Mix tapioca flour and water with a fork until they start to stick together. Transfer to a flat surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth.
  • Divide the dough into 2 and roll each forming thin sticks. Cut them into small pieces. Try to make them as even in size as possible and should be small enough to pass through your straw. Roll each piece in between your palms to turn them into small balls. 
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil in a small pot or saucepan. Add the tapioca pearls to the boiling water and let it cook for 15 minutes or longer until the desired consistency (soft or chewy) is achieved. They will also become darker as they cook.
  • Remove from heat and let it rest for a few minutes. They will shrink back to the original size and will turn black at this point. 
  • Transfer tapioca pearls into a sugar syrup or a bowl with a little water to prevent them from sticking together.

VIDEO

RECIPE NOTES

  • The amount of black food color may vary depending on the brand you are using. I used liquid food color and used about 1/4 teaspoons.
  • I find that using a glass bowl or metal bowl is better especially when using food color.
  • If making a larger batch, just follow the 3:1 ratio of tapioca flour to hot water.
Nutrition Facts
How to make Black Tapioca Pearls (Boba) from scratch.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 79
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 20g 7%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g 0%
Iron 1.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe? Tell us how it went. Tag us at @foxyfolksy or leave a comment and rating below.
Learn how to make black tapioca pearls (boba pearls) from scratch with this simple tutorial. It is so easy and fun to make and much better than using the dried one. | www.foxyfolksy.com #homemade #boba #bobapearls #milktea #tapiocapearls #taiwanese
More Tapioca Pearls/Sago Pearls Recipes

Bebs

Bebs here! I love to cook and try new things and DIY projects! And although I think of myself as a homebody, I like seeing other places from time to time.
If you are looking for a recipe and it ain't here, make a request and I will try my best to make it for you!

This Post Has 34 Comments

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  1. It’s a hit. Love the texture. I substitute the colouring with black tea and the result turn out nice. Thanks for the recipe.


  2. Not sure if I posted the comment right, but I am planning on using the recipe, but substituting the tapioca flour for cornstarch and using spirulina powder as a green, healthy coloring agent for a matcha boba tea. Will this work, and how much spirulina powder should I use, and should I add more water to the powder so the pearls don’t dry out?


  3. Hello! I am planning on making this, but I am thinking of using cornstarch instead of tapioca flour and spirulina powder for a green coloring agent. Would cornstarch work for this, as I don’t have tapioca flour, and would spirulina powder work instead of the black food coloring, and how much should I use? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Conner, I am sorry to say that cornstarch will not work. It has to be tapioca flour/starch because of the very glutinous texture that is needed to form the Boba pearls.


  4. Made these yesterday and had the same problem as user Ginny but in the end they turned out fantastic! I made them blue too which was lots of fun. I’d love to make more and store them, but how should I dry the pearls out?


  5. I just made my first batch today. The dough was difficult. I guess I didn’t let the water get to a boil. I warmed it up, but no boil. I had to add some water. Too much! Added some more tapioca flour. Workable. I managed to successfully get it right. I have them sitting in brown sugar syrup to soak in the flavor. Thank you for the recipe. I plan to make all the time! I love boba milk tea! 🙂

    1. Hi Katrin, I tried letting them dry at room and put the balls in a jar. The cooking time is longer though for dried tapioca balls. But if to be used the next days, just refrigerate cooked tapioca pearls and reheat in boiling water when ready to use.

    1. Hi Brandon, it will have to be a lot of brown sugar to get it really dark, and even then it will not be black but brown. Which is totally fine of course, if you are into really sweet tapioca pearls or just use lesser sugar and settle for a light brown pearls.

    1. Hi JJ, I haven’t tried using a mixer myself for this so I can not answer for certain. As long as the water is boiling hot as you add it maybe it should work. But the problem I see in making this in a large batch is that the dough might start to dry out while you are forming the pearls and become crumbly and difficult to form. I would recommend up to 15-18 tablespoons of tapioca flour at a time.

  6. Hey, I’m from Hong Kong, and I am a huge bubble tea fan. I just wanted to suggest some improvements for your bona, because my mom used to work in the food industry and she sold boba tea as a specialty beverage on her food truck. Did you know that the boba contain brown sugar for colouring and flavor? They already have a bit of sugar in them, but you need to boil them or ‘braise’ them in a sugar syrup. I will definitely try making boba sometime though

    1. Hi Leeanne, yes, I have people suggesting the same that you can already boil them in sugar syrup. My mom does it the same way when cooking dried sago pearls. But the tapioca pearls we had in Taipei were not sweet at all though. I am pretty sure your mom’s boba tea tastes fantastic! I miss visiting HK and I love your food there…should make plans to visit again soon! Thanks for your wonderful advice and have a great day!

  7. Hi, I stumbled across your page today & I’m very interested in making my own tapioca pearls.
    Just a quick question – can these tapioca pearls be kept? If so, how long can I store it?

    1. You can dry them after forming them into pearls and store in an airtight container or jar like the store bought tapioca pearls. They should keep for a long time.


  8. Hi there, I have your page bookmarked in my iPad and while watching KMJS today (April 14, 2019), I saw a feature about this recipe and recognized you and your husband. Excellent segment on the show and I will try this recipe before the summer heat here in Ontario.

    1. Hi Angela, thanks for the nice comment…yes, we were asked to do a demo on how to make tapioca pearls for their milk tea segment. You should really try it, so easy and fun to make…

    1. Hi Yoan, no they are not. Although derived from the same source which is the cassava root, the process of producing them and the composition are different. Cassava flour is made from the whole root while tapioca flour or starch is only from the starch of the root. But I haven”t tried using cassava flour to make tapioca pearls so I cannot say if it will work or not.

  9. Hi, thanks for the recipe as I’ve been searching for a recipe to make tapioca pearls!

    Just a question – can I add sugar into the boiling water while cooking the balls to ensure that they get the sweetness?

  10. Bebs, I will surely be making this,since we don’t have Boba here. When I saw this post, I got so excited of the prospect of making my own. Bubble Tea.

    1. hello bebs
      do you have link of the colored black food you bought for this amazing boba recipe?
      is the same as black sugar syrup you buy at chinese market?

      1. I got my liquid black food color from our local supermarket in the baking section. If not try the baking supplies shops, I am pretty sure they will have it.

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