Tapioca pearls are the chewy, gelatinous balls of tapioca found in bubble tea, also called boba. Boba originated in Taiwan and has recently become popular in the U.S. Tapioca pearls come in various colours and flavours.
What is Boba?
Boba, or bubble tea, was first invented in the 1980s at a tea stand in Taiwan. Its popularity soon spread to other Asian countries, Canada and it eventually arrived on the east coast of the U.S. Within time it also became popular on the west coast.
What Are Tapioca Pearls?
The pearls are made from tapioca, as in the same tapioca that is used in puddings. Tapioca is a starch that comes from the root of the cassava plant, a versatile South American root vegetable.
Clear Tapioca Pearls
Clear or translucent tapioca pearls are made from tapioca starch, which comes from the cassava plant, and caramel.
Black Tapioca Pearls
Black tapioca pearls are basically the same as the clear ones, except for the addition of brown sugar. The brown sugar gives the pearls their dark colour.
Despite its name, bubble tea isn't always made of tea. It can be made of a combination of liquid ingredients, such as milk, fruit juice, coffee or tea, plus the tapioca pearls. The four components of boba are liquid, sweetener, flavour and texture (the pearls).