I love bubble tea and usually get a craving for it every couple of weeks. I’ve always wanted to make bubble tea at home but knowing that I live only 10 minutes from a bubble tea place, means I would rather walk 10 minutes than boil pearls for 1 hour.
The dark tapioca pearls found in bubble tea can often be sweetened with a brown sugar syrup. I shared my version down below. For the pearls, you can buy the large tapioca at Asian supermarkets but they are not always the same. I’ve tried two different types that T&T sold. One was dark brown and in a sealed bag. The other was white-ish in colour and more ball shaped.
Traditionally, tapioca pearls can be boiled on the stove. Instructions can be normally found on the back of the package. The instructions typically tell you to boil the tapioca pearls for 15 minutes or longer. Make sure the water is boiling before pouring in your pearls. This prevents the pearls from just melting in the water and disappearing. I made that mistake the first time making it.
The first time making the pearls didn’t turn out as I expected. I used the white pearl ones. The pearls wouldn’t cook fully even after about 45 minutes of boiling on the stove. I eventually gave up and ate them as is. A little powdery on the inside but it wasn’t bad.
Doing some googling on how to improve the pearls, I discovered that you could make pearls in an Instapot and it would only take 3 minutes! I was excited and wanted to try it out. This time I tried the darker pearls in an airtight bag. I followed the instructions and dumped the pearls into the Instant, along with some water and set the timer for 3 minutes. When I opened the pot after it was done, I found it was a complete blob.
I decided not to give up and try again. This time I used a different type of pearl. It was the white pearls. I realized that one of my mistakes was putting the uncooked tapioca pearls into cold water. Doing this will make the pearly disintegrate and turn into a starchy soup. Instead, boil a pot of water and then dump the uncooked pearls into it. This will seal the pearl and make it stay as pearls.
I pressed the time for three minutes and patiently waited. It beeped and I opened the instapot to find the pearls didn’t cook. There was still a small ball of white inside the pearl. I decided to cook it for longer and ended up cooking the pearls for 30 minutes. This was not what I expected and took just as long as the stove.
After trying it many many time, I finally think I perfected the instapot tapioca pearl technique!
Step 1: On the stove top (or directly in the instapot), boil a pot of water. Use the minimum amount of water for your instapot. Once the water is at a full boil, pour in your pearls.
Step 2: Let your pearls cook for a couple of seconds. Pour the hot liquid and pearls into the instapot.
Step 3: Set the instapot for 3 minutes. Let the instapot do its thing.
Step 4: Once the instapot is done, release the pressure.
Step 5: Drain the pearls and soak them in your sugar water mixture.
Step 6: Let the pearls cool down (about 20-30 minutes). Enjoy with your favourite bubble tea flavour! (My partner really likes chocolate milk but we have recently tried Aloe drink and it was also a hit.)
To make the sugar water mixture. Place 1 cup of water into a pot. Add 1 cup of raw sugar or turbinado sugar. Turbinado sugar has a nice cane sugar taste and has natural molasses. Boil the sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the boiled pearls and let it sit.
Note: the bubble tea pearls don’t last overnight so it is best to have them once they are cooled. Enjoy your homemade pearls!!