Boba pearls are the key ingredients for making a proper milk tea. These chewy tapioca pearls are now readily available both online and from Asian shops. However, making them at home will give you tons of opportunities to experiment with flavours and colours. For the basic recipe, you'll need only 2 key ingredients and you're ready to go. For this super tasty hojicha boba pearls recipe, you'll need one more – hojicha tea powder.
What are the boba pearls?
Boba pearls are large tapioca pearls used as a topping for milk tea. They are not the same as small tapioca pearls. Although they are both made from tapioca starch, small pearls are usually used for desserts, and big boba pearls are used for boba tea. Small pearls are unsweetened and usually contain only tapioca starch. Big boba pearls contain additional ingredients and are available in many flavours. When making boba pearls for boba tea at home, you'll need only 2 basic ingredients.
What is hojicha?
Hojicha is a type of roasted Japanese green tea. Unlike other green teas, hojicha is brown and has a distinctive roasted flavour. It's an amazing tea type for making iced teas or milky drinks and it's as tasty when you make it the traditional way. Hojicha powder is not as popular as matcha tea powder, but it's as versatile. You can use it for making lattes, pudding, add into cookies, or for making boba pearls. Hojicha powder is actually slightly easier to use than matcha powder. It won't clump as much and you'll need much less powder to achieve strong flavour and colour.
Hojicha Boba Pearls Recipe Ingredients
Hojicha tea powder: using hojicha tea powder will give a much nicer colour and flavour than using brewed hojicha tea. However, if you can find hojicha tea powder, you can replace it with strongly brewed hojicha tea instead. Just replace the water content with brewed tea. You'll also need to add a bit more tapioca starch or reduce the amount of liquid ingredient.
Tapioca starch: tapioca starch is readily available from different shops and is very affordable, too. One package of 250 grams of tapioca starch will yield approximately 10-15 servings of boba pearls.
Sugar: Use either a regular white granulated sugar or light or dark brown sugar – depending on which flavour you're aiming for. Brown sugar will add a caramel/toffee note that goes really well with hojicha tea powder. However, regular white sugar will work great too.
This hojicha boba pearls recipe yields 3-4 servings. Although making boba pearls will allow you to use different flavor and colors, it will be time consuming. Therefore, starting will less and making 3-4 servings is usually better than making lots of boba pearls at once – especially if you never made them before.
Steps for making Hojicha Boba Pearls
Sift the tea powder and starch: start by sifting the tapioca starch and hojicha tea powder into a clean bowl. While it's not mandatory to sift starch, it's always a good idea to do it to remove any lumps. Sifting tea powders is a must, regardless of if you are preparing drinks or baking with them. Mix sifted starch and tea powder well.
Melt sugar in water: add water and sugar into a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat, while continuously stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn the heat on medium-high, until you see small bubbles forming.
Add tapioca starch with tea powder: Turn the heat off and start adding tapioca starch with tea powder while continuously stirring. Once the dough forms, transfer it onto a clean working surface. Knead it until you get a smooth dough that's neither too sticky nor too dry. You may add more starch or more water if needed.
Make tapioca pearls: Take a small chunk of dough and start making small pearls using your hands. Keep the rest of the dough in the saucepan that's still warm, covered. While there are many methods to make pearls of the same size, the best way is to take a piece of dough and roll it between your fingers. That's because the dough will dry out fast. Place them on a baking sheet. Once you're done, dust them with tapioca starch and let them dry.
How to cook tapioca pearls?
Cooking process for homemade tapioca pearls is the same as the cooking process for store-bought tapioca pearls, except it will take longer. Add about a litre of water into a clean saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then add tapioca pearls. Once they rise to the surface, continue cooking on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave them in the saucepan covered for another 10-15 minutes. Strain them and mix with a homemade simple syrup or sugar – otherwise they will dry out. Tapioca pearls are best cooked right before serving, although you can keep syrup coated cooked pearls in the fridge for a couple of days. Never store uncoated cooked pearls – they will stick to each other and lose chewiness.
Homemade Hojicha Boba Pearls
- 70 grams of tapioca starch
- 30 grams of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of hojicha powder
- 50 ml of water
- Sift tapioca starch and hojicha tea powder into a clean bowl. Mix well.
- Add water and sugar into a small saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves andsmall bubbles start forming. Turn off the heat.
- Start adding flour and tea mixture while continuously stirring with thespoon or a wooden spatula until dough forms.
- Transform the dough onto a clean working surface and knead it until you geta fine texture, neither too sticky nor too dry.
- Take a very small piece of dough and make a pearl using your fingers. Theyshould be about 6-7mm in diameter. If you are making larger pearls, they willbe too big for boba straw. Place pearls on a baking paper. Repeat until you useup all the dough.
- Dust tapioca pearls with tapioca starch and let them dry for a couple ofhours or cook them immediately.