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Fresh Tapioca Pearls
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4.85 from 73 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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: tapioca
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 79kcal
Author: Bebs


  • 9 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid black food color


  • Place tapioca flour or starch in a bowl. Place black food color in a small bowl and add a tablespoon of boiling water to the food color. Add the rest of the boiling water directly to the tapioca flour and immediately pour the colored water to the bowl of starch as well.
  • Give it a few seconds for the slimy paste to form. Fold in tapioca starch 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.



  • The amount of black food color may vary depending on the brand you are using. 
  • 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 starch to boiling water.
  • Different brands of tapioca starch has varying texture and fineness so they may have varying results. I have some people commented that they are having difficulty using the Bob's Red Mill and I had a success using the same but adding a teaspoon of xanthan gum. This recipe was tested using Polar Bear brand.
  • Using room temperature water will not work! It has to be boiling hot, directly from the pot/kettle of boiling water would be best. Once the hot water is added to the tapioca starch, it will cook the part it touches that will turn into transparent slime in seconds. This will act as a paste while you fold in the rest of the starch to make the dough.
  • If you get a oobleck, it means the water was not boiling hot.
  • The ratio of starch to water is 3:1. This generally works and I have tried it in 3 different brands and had success but I had to adjust the ratio in one of them.
  • If the dough is too crumbly and won't form, then water was not enough. Like I said it could be that the starch you got absorbs more liquid than others. Do this instead: Initially use only 2:1 ratio to make the dough, it might be too soft and sticky then just add a bit more of tapioca starch until you get a play-dough consistency.


Calories: 79kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Sugar: 0g | Iron: 0.3mg