Large tapioca pearls make up the slightly chewy bubbles found in boba, or bubble, tea. You can also use these large pearls to make tapioca pudding, though the larger pearls take more preparation to reconstitute correctly. You can soak them overnight, which is the preferred method for making pudding, or reconstitute them more quickly by boiling. You can store reconstituted large pearls in a sugar syrup in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Combine one part large tapioca pearls with three parts cold water. Soak the pearls in a covered saucepan overnight so they can reconstitute.
Drain any remaining water in the pan the following day. Add 1 quart milk and ¾ cups sugar for every ½ cup of dry tapioca pearls used.
Bring the tapioca and milk to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir to prevent the tapioca from scorching. Cook until the tapioca pearls become clear, which can take up to 30 minutes.
Quick Cook Method
Mix the tapioca pearls with water in a saucepan, adding 2 cups of water for every ¼ cup of dry pearls.
Bring the water to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil until the pearls float to the top of the water.
Lower the heat to medium so the water remains at a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let the tapioca stand for an additional 15 minutes so it reconstitutes completely.
Combine equal parts boiling water and sugar together in a separate pot, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Drain the tapioca and pour the sugar syrup over the top. Cool the tapioca to room temperature before using it.
Make tapioca pudding by mixing eggs, sugar and vanilla with the undrained tapioca, and then bringing it to a full boil until it thickens. Use 3 eggs, ¾ cups sugar and ¾ teaspoon vanilla for every ½ cup of dry tapioca pearls.
Pour a cup of strong, cold tea over reconstituted tapioca pearls to make boba tea. You can also add milk or fruit juice to further enhance the flavor of the tea.