Tapioca Pearls: A Beginners Guide to These Balls of Joy

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All you need to know about Tapioca Pearls

bubble tea

Thanks to TikTok,  the world has witnessed an increasing number of foods trends. Be it a homecooked meal or food from out, we absolutely love trying new food. 

One of those trends which have taken the world by storm is Tapicoca Perals or Boba tea. 

With this article, we will present you with details on Tapioca peals. We will go into the diversity of recipes it is used in and the number of ways they are served.

Tapioca pearls, as the name says, are made from tapioca and given a shape like pearls. Tapioca pearls, also called boba, are edible chewy starch balls obtained from a root crop called cassava tubers, yucca, or manioc.

Origin and Physical Appearance

tapioca pearls

Cassava is grown in Brazil, in the Caribbean, and part of South America.

The Cassava root is a long tube with dark brown skin, which is then peeled, and its white part is given the shape of the pearl. It can also be ground to make flour. 

Their natural colour is white as is the normal colour of starch. However, they are made available in many artificial colours. Usually, they are sold in already cooked and dried form; you need to boil them, which will increase their size to almost double and makes them look translucent.

Black tapioca pearls are also typical and often called black boba. Usually, brown sugar or caramel is used to give black colour to tapioca pearls. Its colour is not limited to white and black only as there are shops offering bubble tea with different shades of boba, including orange, yellow, pink, etc., and called coloured or popping boba.

How to Cook Tapioca Pearls?

Usually, black and white tapioca pearls are used in the United States & the UK, although in other countries, boba is offered in various flavours like chocolate, red beans, etc.

Basic recipe: Cooking tapioca pearls need a generous amount of water and usually followed by the 4:1 ratio. Bring a cup of water to boil, add ¼ cup of tapioca pearl into it, and give it a stair.

When the water comes to boil again, lower the flame to simmer and give them regular stair until the all-tapioca pearls turn translucent or cloudy.

Strain the hot water and rinse the cooked tapioca pearls with regular water. The tapioca pearls are ready to be used.

Bubble tea: Tapioca pearl is used in making a beverage, including cold and sweet bubble tea or boba tea. It is made with brewed tea, tapioca pearls, often black, milk, syrup, and ice cubes.

Precautions while cooking: Often, chefs suggest soaking tapioca pearls in water at room temperature. Although being starch, it might lose its shape during soaking; even the pearls tend to breaks in water; on the other hand, boiling may result in getting a lump out of these tapioca balls.

Tapioca Pearls​ in Drinks

Serving boba for drinks, i.e., tea, milk tea, etc., was started in Taiwan and gradually reached United States, Africa, and Asia. Initially, they were paired with syrups, beans and were also used in ice desserts.

Later the tea and desserts were combined to make what we have today. The base for boba drinks or tea is usually black or green, personalized with syrups of lychee, strawberry, peach, etc.

Adding milk to those teas makes them more fuller and creamy drinks. Some of the variants of boba tea include Fruit teas, Bright orange Thai tea, coffee milk tea, and taro milk tea.

Many shops offer boba in slushies and milk drinks where Slushes are prepared by blending crushed ice and tea or syrups. For milk drinks, milk is used as a base, and brown sugar syrup or honey is used as a sweetener.

Milk alternatives are also used in boba drinks, i.e., oat milk, almond, soy, etc. Lactose-free milk drinks are also offered to cater to the market for those lactose-intolerant people.

So, be it a drink or snack, tapioca pearls are served in both or a combination of both. That’s not the end of the game as boba café offers them in several ways, including hot, cold, adjusted sweet content, toppings, etc.

While travelling to several geographical places, tapioca pearls are adopted with varying recipes and served in numerous variations.

Benefits of Tapioca Pearls:

Tapioca pearls are commonly used in making bubble tea, puddings, and the form of powder as an alternative to white flour in sauces, soups, and pie for thickening consistency.

Apart from the varieties of form, tapioca pearls are served in; they are packed with many health benefits mentioned below.

bubble tea with fruit


Tapioca pearls fall into the carbohydrate’s family of food groups. People with low carb or no card diet may have some restrictions over them due to its effect on their blood sugar level.

However, being high in calories is excellent for people, especially children, for gaining weight. The consumption of a bowl of tapioca pearl reduces the risk of uncontrollable cholesterol and fats.

It is worth mentioning here that Tapioca pearl has a negligible amount of protein, fibre, and fats.


Our body doesn’t tend to recover the calcium we lose daily through skin, sweating, and urination. Tapioca pearls are a great source of dietary supplement for calcium which essential for the health of bones as well as teeth, helps in blood clotting, assists in the expansion and contraction of muscles and blood vessels.


Tapioca is low in sodium or salt, which people used by sprinkling over their food which causes high blood pressure and other heart-related problems.


Tapioca provides iron which is essential for the production of haemoglobin. Deficiency of iron may cause anaemia resulting in fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain, especially in childbearing women.


Naturally Gluten-free

Tapioca doesn’t have gluten, grain, or nuts. Many people avoid and look for gluten-free recipes, usually for baking.

Easy on the stomach

Tapioca pearl is easy to digest than other flour made from nuts or grains.

Some aspects to Be Taken Care of While Consuming Tapioca

No matter how tempting tapioca drinks or desserts look, it is essential to understand how it is obtained and why it is necessary only to consume properly processed boba.

Many, if not all, drinks and desserts have sugar and harmful content that affects your health in undesirable ways. Tapioca pearls are also accompanied by such facts that make them not consumable for everyone.

Tapioca is sold after being processed. One should buy it from a reliable place that ensures that it is processed properly to avoid any health hazard. The root of cassava contains a compound called Linamarin, which is naturally toxic.

Linamarin is converted into hydrogen cyanide by our body if consumed and causes cyanide poisoning or even death. Cyanide poisoning is a paralytic disease which is also known as Konzo.

So be careful in deciding where to buy tapioca pearls as unprocessed or not adequately processed cassava root results in adverse effects on health. Being packed with carbs, it is not recommended or used by diabetic people.

The root of cassava contains a compound called Linamarin, which is naturally toxic. Linamarin is converted into hydrogen cyanide by our body if consumed and results in cyanide poisoning.

Although consumption of tapioca pearl hasn’t reported allergic issues, it is suggested to be taken care of as your body may confuse cassava compounds as latex allergens. Latex allergens are an allergic reaction called Latex fruit syndrome.

bubble tea brown sugar

FAQs on Tapioca Pearls

What are tapioca pearls made of?

They are made from tapioca, the starch extracted from the cassava root.

Can tapioca pearls kill you?

Properly processed tapioca pearls don’t kill you. However, unprocessed tapioca pearls contain Linamarin, which is a toxic component.

Are tapioca pearls safe?

Commercially available processed tapioca pearls are safe for consumption.

Why is bubble tea unhealthy?

Bubble tea often contains added sugar that is why it is unhealthy.

What are the benefits of eating tapioca?

Tapioca is starch and benefits from gaining weight. It contains calcium that is necessary for our bones and teeth, iron in tapioca help in the production of haemoglobin, keeps us from getting amenia, etc. Tapioca is gluten-free, which is preferred in healthy baking etc.

Is it OK to drink bubble tea every day?

Bubble tea usually contains a high sugar content which should be consumed in moderation. Everyday consumption is not advisable.

Bottom Line

Tapioca pearl is used and consumed as a staple food in many parts of the world. It is used in desserts, drinks, puddings, and teas with different recipes and variations. It is widely known and used as a thickening agent in desserts, including pudding and pies. It is preferred as a gluten-free ingredient in baking.

Tapioca pearl is not for the consumption of diabetic people. It is made from the cassava root, which contains a toxic component. It is advisable to buy tapioca pearls from a reliable place to ensure that they are appropriately processed to make them save for consumption.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!