How to Make Popping Boba at Home

by Editor

If you are looking for an unusual but quite interesting beverage like popping boba, then this one’s for you! In the 1980s, the boba culture started in Taiwan. 

During this time, milk tea shops were already famous in Taiwan due to the fact that East Asian countries treat drinking tea as a common norm. At the same time, tapioca balls and shaved iced is their go-to dessert. Someone thought to innovate these three ingredients into one which led to the creation of Bubble/Boba Milk Tea.

What is Boba?

Boba, also known as Bubble Tea (can also be called Pearl Milk tea or Boba Milk tea) is a delectable beverage that was made in Taiwan. It can be prepared by combining a tea base with milk, fruit, and fruit juices, and putting in the “bubbles” – delightful tapioca pearls which rest at the bottommost part of the drink (also the trademark of this whole drink).

These unique beverages can be both offered in hot and cold situations depending on your preference. It is usually served in a clear translucent cup with a wide straw. Take note, this wide straw has a purpose! Remember the tapioca balls (also known as pearls or boba itself)? When you sip it, it will pop out of your mouth. You can chew it or straight up swallow it down,

However, there is quite a confusion regarding what boba is – is it the drink itself or is it referring to a tapioca pearl?

The boba/bubble tea and the boba/tapioca pearl are both called boba. For the sake of technicalities allow me to describe both of them to avoid confusion throughout this article.

Boba literally means tapioca pearl which is a Chinese slang term for breasts (due to the round shape of the tapioca pearls). While bubble tea refers to a foamy cold drink that is created with the use of sweetened milk, iced tea and different kinds of flavorings and is typically added with boba or pearl. And because it spread extensively across Asia, Europe, and other western cultures it became confusing as they started to inconsistently call it by different names.

What are the Different kinds of Boba?

popping boba recipe

Speaking of boba pearls, there are different kinds of boba that you can put on bubble tea.

Clear boba

Clear boba is the usual pearls made from tapioca starch which is extracted from cassava roots –  a naturally gluten-free tuber crop that is considered as a primary food in several countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. The starch is compacted into balls to produce tapioca pearls. Their clear colors can make traditional bubble tea fun and colorful.

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Black Boba

Black Boba is the most popular choice of sinker to put when buying bubble tea. It is a dark-colored pearls that is produced using the same procedures with clear boba incorporated with brown sugar or caramel to set out their dark color.

Mini Boba

From the word mini, is half the size of the regular pearls. Plenty of people opt for mini bobas due to the fact that it is small and much easier to chew or swallow than the regular ones. These are also much faster to cook due to their size.

Flavored Boba

Flavored Boba offers countless flavors that are integrated in normal pearls.This kind of tapioca pearls are covered or cooked in with different kinds of flavored syrup – orange, lychee, pomegranate, etc.

Popping Boba

Popping Boba is a very innovative idea integrated in the foundation of flavored boba. It is loaded up with fruit juice and when you try to crunch it with your teeth, it will burst into your mouth letting the sweet juice out. It also has different flavors such as pineapple, mango, passion fruit, strawberry etc.

Most of the jelly like desserts that are chewy are produced using cassava root flour however, when it is created and cooked into a round ball-like shape it is called boba pearls. You can just easily purchase boba pearls in the market as they are typically sold and just being boiled in the water to have a soft texture.

The average shelf life for a cooked boba is around 36 hours and after this, it will slowly begin to become hard starting from the middle of the pearl. If you bought a boba pearl in a store, it will last much longer as they have techniques and methods to sustain the shape and shelf life.

Popping Boba Recipe

Before we start spilling the tea on how to make a popping boba at home, I wanted to let you know that there is a science behind these fun sinkers. The cooking technique we will use in making popping boba is called “molecular gastronomy” – a motion that integrates science and advanced methods in the production, modification, and creative presentation of food. It is a study of food science that pursues the range over the ingredient’s physical and chemical changes that happen in cooking. 

how to make popping boba at home

Going back with the recipe, popping boba is a lot easier to make than a regular boba. 

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Yield:2 cups                                                                            Preparation time:30 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes                                                            Additional Time Needed: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes

Here are the ingredients needed to make popping boba pearls


  • 1 cup of Vegetable Oil 
  • 1 cup of Gatorade
  • ½ teaspoon of Agar Powder

Things you will need:

  • Dropper
  • Glass Bowl/ Glass container
  • Saucepan
  • Heat resistant Bowl
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Mesh Strainer


  1. Put 1 cup of vegetable oil into a glass (it can be a glass food container or a glass bowl) and leave it for 40 minutes in the freezer
  2. Pour 1 cup of gatorade and ½ teaspoon of agar powder in a medium saucepan.
  3. Mix and blend the agar powder and gatorade on the top of the medium high heat and continue stirring it as it boils.
  4. Get a heat resistant bowl and pour the agar powder and gatorade mixture in it and let it cooldown for 20 minutes.
  5. Get the vegetable oil out of the freezer.
  6. Get a dropper and fill it in with the agar powder and gatorade mixture.
  7. Pinch it on the vegetable oil and watch how it will sink and transform into a ball shape.
  8. Move the beads to a bowl of cold water using a slotted spoon to wash it out.
  9. Get a mesh strainer and drain the beads
  10. Eat or serve it with your favourite dessert or drink.

So how does it really work? 

Popping boba undergoes a process called Spherification. It is a culinary science that utilizes calcium chloride (present in the Gatorade as electrolyte) and sodium agitates/agar powder to form a soft sphere from the liquid which looks and feels like a roe. It is led by the modernist creative team with the supervision of chefs Ferran Adria and Albert Adria at El Bulli and was recorded in the 1950s by Unilever.

At the present time, Boba milk teas are usually sold for around $3-$5. Of course, it still depends on the bases and toppings you will choose. Typically, additional toppings might cause an additional 0.50 cents however it still depends on where you will purchase it. Famous Boba shops that focus on organic and fresh ingredients might have a bit higher price since quality ingredients are what you’re paying for.

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The usual tea bases are black and green tea which can be put in combination with a wide variety of flavored syrups such as lychee, apple, and strawberry. Another iconic evolution that has been innovated to these drinks is adding milk to them which made the beverage creamier and much more heavenly. It is called the ‘classic boba milk tea’.

Another base variation that most people love is a Taro Milk Tea which was produced by using the tropical taro roots. Fruit teas are also on the list of the people’s favorites which can be combined with fruit slices. We also have Matcha, Oolong, Thai, and Coffee bases boba tea that they can choose from.

With these wide arrays of options, customizing your own boba can be both fun and exciting as it allows you to adjust your drink depending on the level of ice to be put on the sweetness, and their temperature options (hot and cold).

Another thing to be customized on your boba drink is the sinkers! It just usually has boba or tapioca pearls in the beginning but because some people are really into the innovation of certain foods, they have decided to add and experiment with other sinkers. 

You can choose to incorporate the tapioca pearls, nata, pudding, grass jelly, aloe vera, taro balls, and red bean.

As for the toppings, they have also incorporated whipped cream, cream cheese, cheesecake, tiramisu crema, and rock salt crema into the beverage.

At present, boba is still in the trend. It is a bit pricey if you’re going to buy a cup every single time which is why a lot of instant boba’s can now be purchased in a store like Walmart. It might taste different than the usual boba that we like but it is worth a shot. You can also try making it at home with the recipe above.

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