When drinking your bubble tea, you feel like you’re taking a journey through a magical land of flavor. The milky tea-based liquid is so good in taste. But the most interesting part is the chewy boba pearls. They are perfectly shaped and chew, totally different from our common food. Then you might have lots of questions: what is boba made out of and how boba is made? Is it artificial? Is it gluten-free? Should be chewed or swallowed? Let’s find out one by one.

Note: Boba can refer to the boba pearls used in the bubble tea or sometimes as a boba tea. Thus we will go through both of the two groups. 

Firstly let me explain there are so many side ingredients for bubble milk tea. So boba pearls have three groups one. 

  • Traditional boba pearls-made from tapioca starch
  • Crystal boba pearls-made from agar 
  •  popping boba pearls- made with fruit puree, water, sodium alginate and calcium lactate

What are boba pearls made out of 

Regular tapioca boba pearls are made out of natural starch named tapioca starch, created in the 1980s. They are chewy, round balls in the popular bubble teas.

It only needs three or four ingredients as follows:  

  • Tapioca starch
  • Hot boiling water
  • Sweetener
  • Colorings- fruit with color, other food colorings or powders including black food color, ube powder, mocha powder and so much more. 

Tapioca starch

It is a white, powdery substance that is extracted from the roots of the cassava root. Tapioca starch is a strong starch because it has a high level of amylose, which is composed of long chains of glucose molecules that are linked together in a linear fashion. So it is believed to be the ideal ingredient for boba pearls. You can use tapioca balls in milk tea and tea treats, ice cream bar, mochi or even smoothies.  

Ingredients for white boba pearls


Usually, the dough of the tapioca starch calls for a sweetener to add it a basic sweet flavor. But most of the flavors are quite faint and hard to notice.  

  • White sugar, brown sugar, and honey are commonly used sweeteners. Fruit-based boba peals get a naturally sweet taste from the fruit puree.
  • Another add-on for tapioca boba pearls is a coloring agent either fruit, vegetable powders, or artificial food colorings. For example, mango boba pearls are made from mango puree while matcha boba pearls are made with matcha powder.

So basically the ingredients for boba pearls are safe and the chewy texture comes from the amylose in tapioca flour.

Check out our other colored boba pears: strawberry bobapassion fruit bobadragon fruit boba, and brown sugar boba.  

How is boba made

The process of making boba pearls is actually super simple. It involves the following process.

  • Heat the water and dissolve the sugar is used. Then mix tapioca starch with hot boiling water until it forms a dough-like consistency. Knead until smooth. The dough is ready.
  • Then the dough is divided and rolled into long, further cut into small pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a small ball around 6mm to 8mm in diameter. Dust with some extra tapioca starch from the sticky. That’s the entire process.
  • Boba pearls need to be strained or soaked in water after cooking. Some of the boba pearls can be further simmered with sugar like brown sugar boba.  
type of boba pearls

Check our colorful recipes to make homemade boba pearls:White, mango, strawberry, and brown sugar boba pearls.

What is crystal boba pearl made out of

Agar boba pearls, also known as jelly boba pearls or crystal boba pearls, are made from a combination of agar-agar, a type of seaweed, fruit juice, and sweetener. Crystal boba pearl has a lovely transparent and soft texture, differing from the chewy texture of the classic boba pearls.  

To make the crystal boba pearls, agar either strips or powders are mixed in hot fruit juice until dissolved. Then the mixture is poured into molds to create small, round pearls. To fasten the firm process, those pearls are often chilled. But it can hold the shape at room temperature. Crystal boba pearls are also available in a variety of flavors, such as strawberry, mango, and lychee.

 Ingredients for crystal boba pearls include:

  • fruit juice
  • water
  • sweetener
  • agar agar

What is popping boba made out of 

Also known as popping pearls, bursting boba, bursting bubbles, juice balls, or popping bubbles, popping boba is an exciting bubble tea topping that, literally, bursts in your mouth! They are liquid-filled bubbles of fruit-flavored juices. When chewing, they pop in your mouth when consumed and your mouth is left with fruity deliciousness.

The main ingredient is the seaweed extract, which is considered to be the outer shell of the popping boba with a fruit base inside.

Ingredients for popping boba include: 

  • Fruit puree, optional
  • Water
  • sodium alginate: used in the water fruit puree mixture
  • calcium lactate: mixed in water for the shaping
Ingredients of popping boba

What is boba milk tea made out of 

Boba milk tea is a beverage with milk, optionally tea, and boba pearls.  Originating from Taiwan, it has obtained big popularity now.  Let’s find out the components one by one.

Basic Ingredients 

  • Tea: tea add extra flavor to the drink.  All common tea types including black tea, Assame, green tea, oolong tea, and fruit-flavored tea can be used in boba milk tea. 
  • Dairy or substitute: milk, half-half, cream. Substitutions including almond milk and coconut milk might be used. 
  • Sweetener: Sugar, honey, and different types of syrup are the common sweetener for boba milk tea. 
  • Boba pearls: chewier boba pearls are the essential ingredient for boba tea.  Common options included tapioca pearls, crystal boba, and popping boba.  

Add ons 

  1. Ice: Many bubble teas are served chilled, so ice is a common component in summer. 
  2. Fruit Flavorings:  fruit juices and purees can improve both the color and the taste of the boba tea. 
  3. Additional toppings: such as fruit jellies, and pudding might also be added.
  4. Some extra ingredients like taro, coffee, and mocha can also be used to create unique texture and flavor. 


I hope you have a basic idea about boba no matter referring to the balls or the drink.  

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