Crystal boba is one of the three important types of boba pearls used in bubble tea in addition to regular boba and popping boba. Crystal jelly boba and crystal bubble boba are the other two popular names.
While I don’t have a staple bubble tea order, crystal boba is my go-to sinker when I’m not in the mood for regular boba pearls. Discover all there is to know about crystal boba: from taste, to texture, to storage tips, and how to make it. Plus we also offer several tips when making your own colored crystal boba at home.
What’s Crystal Boba
Crystal boba is a type of bubble tea topping. Also known as agar boba, agar pearl jelly, or crystal jelly, crystal boba is made from two types of jelly agent: the konjac plant (Amorphophallus konjac) or agar powder.
Crystal boba is naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly. Like boba pearls, crystal boba lends texture and flavor to milk tea. It goes well with bubble tea, flavored iced tea, frozen yogurt, and shaved ice desserts. The jelly sinker has grown in popularity in recent years. Ease of preparation, variety, and colorful appearance all contribute to its success.
It is made from Konjac plant which is native to the warm and tropical Asian regions. Konjac mannan, a glucomannan from the bulb of the konjac plant, solidifies into jelly.
The plant-based gelatine agar-agar comes from red algae, a type of seaweed. Agar is a type of seaweed that has powerful thickening and stabilizing properties. It’s useful in culinary and baking applications. The seaweed is usually boiled to form a gel then pressed and dried.
It’s commonly sold in bars, as powder, flakes, or in strands and is used as a coagulant or thickener when dissolved in liquid.
What does crystal boba taste like
Crystal jelly is semi-translucent and has a chewy gelatin-like taste. Konjac jelly or agar jelly is tasteless on its own, but usually sweetener is added. Crystal boba has a sweet taste but with a hint of a subtle yet surprising burst of citrus. Store-bought crystal boba comes pre-soaked in sweet syrup.
Fruit juice or flavored syrup creates delicious and brightly colored crystal jelly. So the flavored crystal boba may have the taste of the juicy used in the mixture.
Why making Crystal Boba
Ditch store-bought crystal boba and free your body from unwanted additives. This delicious boba topping is easy, cost-efficient, and fun to make at home.
It’s a relatively simple process, and the resulting pearls have a fresh, clean taste. You can fully customize the color and flavor according to your preference.
Most ingredients are pantry staples but you will likely need to make a store run for agar powder. You can find agar powder in Asian groceries, health food stores, or online through Amazon.
It’s also easier to source agar powder instead of the konnyaku jelly powder. Both agar and konjac are vegan while traditional gelatin is an animal by-product.
Here are the ingredients that we need to make basic crystal boba:
- Powdered sugar
- Agar Powder or konnyaku jelly powder
- Water, or you can use coconut water
How to make crystal boba at home
- round molds
- 1 Scraper
- sauce pot
- 300 ml water or coconut water
- 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp. konjac powder , or 6g agar powder
Konjac powder version
- Add water to a sauce pot. Start the fire and bring it to a boiling.
- Mix sugar and konjac powder together. Add the mixture to the water. Let it simmer for 3 minutes.
- Transfer out and pour into the molds. Use a scraper to spread the liquid to cover each of the holes. Be quick in this process.
- Let it stay for 10 minutes until firmed. Take the crystal boba out and soak in iced water.
Agar powder version
- Pour water into a pot. Don’t switch on the fire at the start. Agar agar should be added to room temperature or cold liquid to prevent clumping.
- Combine the agar agar powder and sugar.
- Next, pour it into the water and start the fire. Whisk continuously to dissolve the powders Keep simmering for five minutes. Continue whisking the mixture to prevent burning or spilling.
- The agar jelly mixture firms up quickly. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the mixture into your mold or container right away. The crystal boba should be formed within 10 minutes.
- Take the crystal boba out and soak in iced water.
- Pour the jelly mixture in a square silicone mold or baking tray. Let the liquid jelly cool.
- Leave the crystal boba mixture undisturbed at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, check if the mixture has fully set.
- Once the jelly has set, cut them into small rectangles (that will fit through a boba straw) for an easy crystal jelly. You can draw a grid pattern of about .5” per rectangle for uniformity.
- Unmold the rectangular jelly to a plate and then cut into small cubes.
How to make crystal boba (with spheres method )
If you don’t have a silicone mold available, you can set the liquid in icy water using a squeeze bottle, a dropper or a spoon.
- Before the liquid jelly completely cools, pour it into a squeeze bottle.
- In a large bowl, mix water, ice, and oil.
- Using the squeeze bottle, squeeze the jelly mixture drop by drop into the icy water. This will create crystal boba spheres. Let the spheres sit in the icy water.
- Once the crystal boba has set, they will sink to the bottom.
- Strain and wash the jelly balls.
If the jelly mixture thickens before you’ve finished making all the boba, heat up the mixture. You can do this by immersing the squeeze bottle in hot water. Or you can pour the mixture back in a saucepan, on the stove.
How to store crystal boba
Making crystal boba at home is really simple. It only takes 20 minutes to make.
If you make a batch that has leftovers, simply store it in the fridge. Follow these simple steps to successfully preserve crystal boba and extend its shelf-life.
- Prepare a sugar syrup of 2 tablespoons white sugar and ¾ cup filtered water.
- In a clean, air-tight jar, pour the sugar syrup.
- Next, pour the crystal boba. Make sure all of the boba are underneath the sugar syrup.
- Close the lid. Store in the refrigerator. Consume within two weeks.
After opening store-bought crystal boba, keep it refrigerated. It is best to consume it within 1-2 weeks of opening.
Bobas could lump. Before using, gently separate them with a scooper. To maintain this product’s freshness, it’s recommended that you refrigerate after opening.
Finally, remember that heat should be avoided. so keep it in the fridge. Avoid prolonged exposure to light.
Where to Buy Crystal Boba
If you don’t plan on making these babies at home, you can easily find commercial grade Crystal boba on Amazon. Bossen, Fanale, Tea Zone, and other brands offer both original and flavored varieties.
You won’t have to cook store-bought crystal boba. Most manufacturers pack them in syrup and are ready-to-eat. Crystal boba are also available in many boba tea shops or local dessert shops. You can pop in for a visit, grab a boba tea and crystal boba pack to-go.
Flavored and Colored Crystal Boba:
Create custom crystal boba with different colors and flavors. Simply add fruits, powdered mixes and flavoring.
Follow the recipe above but swap the coconut water for any fruit juice that you like. There are a few ways to do this – you can use fresh fruit juice puree, canned fruit juice, or a powdered mix. When using powdered mixes, mix the agar and juice powder thoroughly before adding them to the pot.
The next time you’re on a milk tea run, grab yourself a cup of bubble tea with crystal boba. Calories, taste, texture , and variety-wise, this sinker is a winner!
If you’re looking to make milk tea at home, making crystal boba is easy with our recipe and tips. We hope you will love this crystal boba journey.