Tapioca pearls are the small beads of jelly goodness that instantly make Boba tea recognisable. Despite the variation in taste and style that the creativity of boba tea creations has bred, these small pearls are found in every boba on earth.
So what are these Tapioca pearls? What are they made from and how many types are there?
1 – Tapioca Pearls
‘Bobas‘ are made from Tapioca starch that is derived from the starch of the Cassava root. Tapioca is then mixed with hot water and the dough separated into small balls. The dough is dried and then boiled in hot water. The balls can be left as-is or flavoured at this point, usually with white sugar syrup (clear boba balls) or brown sugar (black boba balls).
Black boba balls are ubiquitous and are the little black balls of goodness that most people imagine when they think of bubble tea.
2 – Flavoured Tapioca Pearls
The traditional boba balls can be flavoured with just about anything you can imagine. From classic flavours such as honey and green tea to more adventurous flavours like mango and strawberry, flavoured tapioca balls are a great addition to your bubble tea.
3 – Popping Boba
Moving away from the traditional boba balls infused with flavour, we find popping boba. Whereas traditional boba balls are made from Tapioca, or Cassava starch, the popping boba balls are made from Sodium Alginate. Sodium Alginate is typically found in seaweed and algae and is formed into balls by the process of spherification.
Popping boba introduces a new twist to the traditional bubble tea and the ‘pop' is a burst of flavour. When you bite into these balls a burst of flavour rushes into your mouth. With the evolution of popping boba comes ever more inventive and wild flavours, such as passionfruit, pomegranate, and pineapple. The addition of these flavours means unlimited taste opportunities for you and your boba.