How to Make Brown Sugar Boba (Tapioca Pearls)

You may have seen our Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bars video and know that we tried many times making the perfect boba for the ice cream only to find that tapioca freezes rock hard. Well, if you’re NOT freezing these bobas and are using it for drinks then these are arguably one of the best pearls I’ve ever had. They are soft, chewy, translucent and the flavour works so well with milk or milk tea… or whatever else you put them in. 

For the ingredients, make sure to get the TAIWANESE Tapioca flour. We used a Thai version before and I don’t know if it was us or what but that stuff just disintegrated. 

This is the brand of tapioca starch we used.

We work with a ratio and I think this makes things much easier. 

2 portions tapioca flour
1 portion water
1/2 portion brown sugar

The water needs to be a rolling boil before putting it in with the sugar and tapioca. Keeping in mind that water evaporates, so make sure to boil it in a pot with a lid on it. 

The dough gets hot at first but you need to work on it while it’s hot. Mix and knead until a nice soft dough forms. After that the most tedious part of this whole process is rolling out the bubbles. The first time it took us over an hour, but with eventual practice we got it down to about half hour. I guess it’s part of the fun as well. 

If you don’t want to use all the tapioca pearls immediately then you can freeze them at this point. 

Boil these tapioca pearls in a big pot of water. Again this needs to be a rolling boil. Stir the pot until everything floats up then turn the heat down to medium and boil for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes is up, let it sit for 30 minutes and that’s how you get the beautiful translucent bubble. 

Maybe I can just eat a whole bowl of tapioca…

You can rinse these under cold water to give them an extra bite, aka “Q” in Taiwanese. Here are the options you can do now. You can either have them as is, sprinkle some brown sugar on them and mix them in OR you can cook them down and caramelize them with more brown sugar and form a syrup – kind of like what Tiger Sugar or other Brown Sugar milk places are doing. 

If you are cooking it down, put some brown sugar in a wok or a pan and pour the bubbles in, cook them in low heat until everything is all dark brown and caramelized. Be careful this is really hot. 

Cooked tapioca pearls should be served within 3 hours. 

We made a few drinks with these, added them with regular milk, oat milk, fruit teas. They were delicious and went down a little too quickly. But we just love how soft and “Q” these fresh tapioca bubbles are. 


brown sugar boba
The perfect drink for a hot summer day

Brown Sugar Boba (Tapioca Pearls)

These are arguably one of the best pearls I've ever had. They are soft, chewy, translucent, and the flavor works so well with milk or milk tea… or whatever else you put them in!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Taiwanese
Keyword: boba, brown sugar boba, bubble tea, tapioca pearl


  • 1 cup Tapioca Flour Taiwanese brand
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • Brown Sugar for coating or caramelization


  • Put the tapioca flour in a heat proof mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and water in a small pan and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Pour hot brown sugar water into tapioca flour and mix immediately. When your hands can handle the heat, knead the mixture until a dough ball forms and becomes smooth.
  • Pinch little pieces of dough by hand and roll them into tapioca balls. Make sure they are not too big as they will expand when cooked.
  • Put the rolled tapioca pearls into a separate bowl with a little bit of tapioca flour to stop them from sticking. When you’re done sift out the extra tapioca flour.
  • If you’re not using the tapioca pearls immediately then freeze them.
  • Bring a big pot of water to boil. Once boiling, put the pearls in the water and stir immediately until all the bubbles come to the surface.
  • Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Once 20 minutes is up, turn off the heat and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Optional: Can rinse the tapioca pearls under cold water for additional chewiness.
  • You can use tapioca pearls as is, sprinkle with brown sugar or caramelize in brown sugar sauce. If caramelizing, add a good amount of brown sugar in a wok or a pan and add the pearls back in. Cook on low until sugar completely melts and turns into a dark brown syrup.
  • Enjoy your tapioca pearls within 3 hours.

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