If you were to search in Google with the query “what is tapioca” you’ll get the exact definition of what tapioca is.
The definition from your Google search states— a starchy substance in the form of hard white grains, obtained from cassava and used in cooking for puddings and other dishes.
Let’s take it a step further and answer this question, what is tapioca, in terms of bubble tea and why it’s so important in any kind of boba beverage.
Like Google mentioned, tapioca pearls within boba is a starchy and chewy substance (absolutely delicious) extracted from a cassava root or otherwise known as Manihot Esculenta. Coming from the plantae kingdom, the cassava root is the third largest source of carbohydrates that is commonly grown around the equator or tropics.
If you’re interested, the first two largest sources of carbohydrates grown around this type of region is rice and maze.
The cassava root is generally brown and has a long narrow shape to it, almost like an oddly shaped banana. The texture of the cassava root on the outside is rough to the touch but the white and sometimes yellowish inside or flesh of the root is quite smooth but firm.
Though lacking in sources of nutrients like protein, fats and other nutrients, the cassava root is highly rich in starch. The richness in starch allows us boba lovers to enjoy those little black pearls in the bottom (or top) or our favorite bubble teas.
Fun fact, our favorite bubble tea is generally the classic black milk tea or hong kong milk tea and a good matcha milk tea. (We tend to like it more on the bitter side, although sweeter matcha milk teas are just as refreshing).
What does cassava root taste like?
Cassava root before it’s extracted to make boba pearls or tapioca balls, is typically either sweet or bitter. (Talk about a gamble for satisfying your taste buds).
Also, if you are someone looking to buy cassava root and create some boba pearls from scratch, you might want to be sure that you are NOT obtaining a species of cassava root that can be harmful.
Some cassava root tend to have more cyanide notes to it than others and without proper preparation, cyanide intoxication may be unknowingly experienced. The density of the cyanide in a cassava root may determine short term or long term effects to one’s self.
Just be careful and properly prepare your cassava root to make bubbles or boba pearls!
What are boba pearls made with?
Like we mentioned before, boba pearls are made with the extracted starch from cassava root.
Typically you can simply get store bought boba pearls in your local supermarket and all you’d have to really do is boil them until the right consistency and texture you desire. Some people or boba shops boil their boba too much or too little and this leaves the boba to crumble in undesirable pieces in your mouth.
How to Make Boba Pearls at Home
It’s simple. Go out to your local supermarket and find some boba pearls. If you can’t find small packages of boba pearls from your local supermarket, you may have to take a visit to that asian supermarket across the street. (You can probably buy some boba along the way too).
What’s next when you have your package of boba pearls ready to go?
Be sure to boil your store bought boba pearls with enough time so that the pearls are both soft and have a great chewy texture to it. (If you need to chew your boba more than 15 times, it might be too chewy).
Boiling a store bought boba for about 10-15 minutes is good enough but you should also let it sit for the same time it is boiled before serving. You can ensure a great texture for boba pearls by following the instructions on the back of boba packages too.
It shouldn’t be that complicated, don’t overthink it!
Adding the Brown Sugar or Caramel Taste
When creating the delicious taste for boba you can typically prepare any simple syrup you’d like and incorporate it during the cooking process but there’s a better way.
Instead of a simple syrup, make your boba pearls more delicious with brown sugar or caramel. Brown sugar or caramel in your bubble tea will add a hint or note of depth in flavor than reguarly cooked boba pearls. All you’ll need is a saucepan big enough for your cooked boba.
To start, add milk and brown sugar together bringing it to a boil and then slowly simmer until you have a consistency you like. You can even add some sweetened condensed milk to this too. (Talk about sweetness!)
Once you have the consistency you’d like, begin to mix your cooled boba in and stir often. Completely cover all boba pearls in the brown sugar bath and once you believe you’re done, it’s ready to serve once cooled.
Grab your base for milk tea and pour those lovely boba pearls you cooked for a refreshing bubble tea.
Talk about creating the best boba at home for yourself, friends or family. (Usually it’s for ourselves though, we can’t help it). If you enjoyed reading this article, be sure to comment what you learned from this below. We’d love to hear what you boba connoisseurs have to say.
And remember, talk about boba, duh!