Homemade Tapioca Pearls

July 7, 2010

I like bubble milk tea or a.k.a pearl milk tea, especially those black-chewy-bubbles. Haha. I have no idea what the are made of but I know for sure they are not sago pearls. I searched online and I came across tapioca pearls! Yeah, so they are made from tapioca. I couldn’t find ready made product in the market here. Thus, I bought a packet of tapioca flour which cost merely RM0.90, and tried to make my own ‘bubbles’.

Tapioca flour is very sensitive to water. Make sure you mix BOILING water bit-by-bit into the flour and mix it until it forms a dough. Too much of water will make the dough collapse and you won’t be able to roll it nor form it into the desire shapes.

I tried mixing some brown colouring to half of the dough. It turns out pretty nice. The texture is as chewy as the ‘bubbles’ I like! This is just an experiment and I am going to make more next time to mix into my favourite drink.

Homemade Tapioca Pearls


  • Tapioca flour
  • Boiling water
  • Food colouring (optional)


  1. Gradually mix boiling water into the flour until it forms a dough.
  2. Roll into desire shapes (here, I rolled into small balls to resemble pearls).
  3. In a saucepan, boil water. Put all the pearls into the boiling water. Boil until they float on the surface of the water.
  4. Drain and soak pearls in cool water (room temperature water is fine).
  5. Serve with your favourite dessert or bubble milk tea.

40 Responses to “Homemade Tapioca Pearls”

  1. Oh, WOW, I cannot believe that you made your own bubbles! That’s fantastic.

  2. lisz_ireth Says:

    hey there!
    i’ve been trying to look for stores to buy the ready-made pearls, and i ended up at your blog šŸ™‚
    i’m a ‘die hard fan’ of bubble tea and wanted to try doing it at home..
    thanx for sharing the great and simple recipe! can’t wait to try this!

    • hooisanlai Says:

      Yes, I like bubble tea too. Just FYI, this recipe works best when it is fresh. I tried to keep it in the fridge and it turned mushy and weird. Lol. Anyway, happy trying!

  3. Tand00ri^Salmon Says:

    hi. I just tried out your recipe today. It seems that i find out a few things I hope you can clarify with me

    1) adding boiling water to tapioca flour causes them to be fragmented and mushy. Thus I use cold water. It ended up working. but I can’t manage to shape it correctly, the texture of the dough is something that I’ve never seen before, it’s solid but after leaving it , it mellows down. Are you sure you add hot water into the flour? if that’s so , how much did you add?

    2) because the shape couldn’t be maintained, I directly throw the rolled pearl into the boiling water, it works except for the fact that most of my pearls ended up flat.

    Do you have any solution to those?

    • hooisanlai Says:

      Hi there. Actually I had the same problem too. The texture of the dough is solid in the beginning but if you leave it, it collapsed. I tried my best to shape them into balls but it was tough. Sorry, I don’t have an accurate measurement of water I used as it was a trial and error for me. This is my first attempt and I will try it again next time to see how to improve it. Thanks for your comment and if you have found out the right way to do it, do let me know! šŸ™‚

  4. Jason Says:

    What ratio of water to tapioca do you use? 1:2,1:3?

    • hooisanlai Says:

      Hi Jason. There’s no accurate proportion of water I used. I suggest that you add it slowly until a desired dough consistency.

  5. emma Says:

    So i just made these and I had some of the problems mentioned above. I added a little teensy bit of regular flour which helped keep the shape, but I might try powdered sugar on my second attempt

  6. Britney Says:

    Thank you so much! Needed tapioca pearls for my kids Halloween Party and couldn’t find them anywhere.

  7. iqah_1811 Says:

    where can get tapioca flour??

  8. Thanks for this recipe. I have always wanted to find a different use for tapioca. Here in Hawaii it is used in a custard or a thickener for pie fillings. I have many new ideas to do with tapioca pearls.

  9. chengy Says:

    I have never been a fan of bubble tea nor bubble pearls but recently I’ve got a job to write about it and am doing some research on it. The first time I ate the pearls reminded me of my late grandaunt’s bubur cha cha. She would put colourful tapioca jelly into the dessert. It was made the same way as what you have done but I don’t remember her having the problem you’ve had. Perhaps put less water? Alternatively, check out bubur cha cha recipes?

    • hooisanlai Says:

      Thanks chengy for the idea. Yeah, I shall try it again with less water and will check out bubur cha cha recipes šŸ™‚

  10. Lauryn Says:

    you are so awesome! was so hard to find the recipe for this!
    i love bubble tea but I thought it was too ‘chemically’ and fake, and wanted to make them using healthier ingredients..

  11. Judy Soloski Says:

    Do you mean you had to roll and shape each individual pearl? Yikes! If not, how did you get the shape?

  12. rinoa Says:

    where to buy tapioca flour? I only manage to find tapioca starch. Is it the same?

  13. hoo kam Says:

    i think you gotta add simple syrup to make it not sticky

  14. MaxMar Says:

    Hi, I would like to know if you can store these tapioca balls, how long will they last before they become mushy and unedible.

  15. jay Says:

    where do I find the tapioca flour in malaysia??
    and is tapioca flour the same as tapioca starch??

  16. jay Says:

    I bought a pack of tapioca flour from a grocery store in KL and I followed ur steps but when I put it to boil, they all went flat and melted… I have lost hope..
    what shld I do??

  17. Tiarra Says:

    How do you make a flavored boba? Do you use flavored flour? Or can u insert flavor? Also I have seen people use hot flavored gelatin, then put it into an eye dropper, then drop use the eye dropper and drip the mixture into cold water, do you think that would work?

    • Charlotte Says:

      I believe this would work.. This isn’t usually a way to make the pearls though. This is more of a flavoured caviar (as seen on a lot of foody programmes where people want to jazz up their desserts) but I’m sure it would taste good all the same..

  18. Charlotte Says:

    Firstly, well done on this! I love the idea of making my own.

    Just for anyone else that looks at this, as I have today.. The brown colour in the tapioca pearls usually comes from brown sugar added to the mixture, rather than a food colouring.

    And with regards to keeping them in the fridge. You shouldn’t keep them for longer than 4 hours as they will turn mushy and inedible.

  19. Hankie Says:

    Wow! Do you think it would be possible to add flavouring? If so, what would work best, fruit juice or artificial flavour? Thanks ^_^ x

  20. Melissa Says:

    We stored cooked tapioca balls in the fridge for days in simple syrup (1 cup sugar to 1 cup water boiler for 3 minutes and cooled). We could only find the small sized balls for pudding, but it was perfect for all of our trial and error exercises. Now we will try to make them from scratch. By the way, the commercial black colored ones are made with caramel color, not brown sugar. Caramel color has been linked to ugly health issues.

  21. Sandra S-P Says:

    Hi, I am so happy I have found your blog. I was looking for more recipes of bubble tea. I know tapioca bubbles are sold in Asian markets. Sometimes the even have them in colours. But do you think that, if I cook the white pearls and I had a few drops of real colouring (cake colouring for professionals not the supermaket cheap one) they will turn out good? Have you tried? I am heading to the Asian market tomorrow and buy the pearls! Thank you so much for the recipes and advice! Happy girls here! ā¤

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