How to Make Popping Boba at Home

What is boba?

Traditional boba is made from tapioca starch and they’re also sometimes called “tapioca pearl.” They’re like black pearls, with a neutral taste made to be paired with various beverages. Boba has become a popular addition to bubble tea, which is also known as pearl tea, tapioca tea, or boba. “Boba” means both the tapioca at the bottom of a drink and the whole drink itself.

Popping Boba

Popping boba is a fruity dessert pearl that you can top your drinks with, and it’s bursting with deliciousness! They are similar to tapioca pearls, but with a burst of flavour as it literally ‘pops’ a colourful fruit juice. Popping boba is a sphere which has a thin outer layer that explodes when you bite into it or press on it with your teeth. It is sometimes called bursting boba.

Bubble tea is a very popular drink among many people who like to try different beverages, and popping boba is a great alternative to tapioca pearls if you’re into a more flavourful bubble tea. Stores usually use fruit juice as the base to create these pearls, but you may opt to use tea or coffee as an alternative too.

What is the difference between boba and popping boba?

Tapioca pearls are tapioca flour-based balls that have a soft, chewy texture while popping boba has a lighter, less tough texture when directly biting into it.

Tapioca pearls are a common component of bubble tea, as well as several other cakes, pastries, flavoured milk, ice cream, frozen yoghurt or cold puddings. They can be white or brown with the former being sweeter. Typically, tapioca pearls are mixed with brown sugar syrup for more flavour.

On the other hand, fruit pearls are less versatile and can only be paired depending on their flavour. They complement or contrast the flavour of a drink. Popping boba can be enjoyed in a variety of flavours.

The key difference is that boba is made of tapioca flour, and popping boba mainly consists of fruit juices.


Two food additives, sodium alginate and calcium salt are essential for achieving that perfect mouthfeel in the popping pearls. They create the perfect pop and chewy texture. This is entirely safe and widely used by chefs in a lesser-known cooking discipline called molecular gastronomy.

To make a popping boba at home, here are the ingredients that you will be needing:

  • 1 gram Powdered Sodium Alginate
  • 2 teaspoons Powdered Calcium Lactate
  • 100 mL Fruit Juice of your choice, preferably above 3.6 pH level
  • Distilled Water

Make sure to prepare the following equipment needed for this recipe too:

  • Electric mixer or blender
  • 2 large bowls
  • Syringe or squeeze bottle



For this recipe, we will be using a molecular gastronomy technique to create the interesting texture of popping boba. This technique is called spherification.

How does Spherification work?

Spherification is an innovative culinary technique that uses either calcium chloride or calcium gluconate lactate to shape a liquid into squishy spheres that look, feel and taste like roe. Spherification utilises the gelling properties of some substances.


  1. Mix two cups of water and two teaspoons of calcium lactate at a time and evenly combine them. Put your solution in a large, shallow container and store it in your refrigerator to keep it cool.
  2. In a separate bowl, add 1 gram of sodium alginate to 100 mL of your favourite fruit juice. Make sure that the juice is not acidic. It is best to test the pH level and ensure that it is not below 3.6. Use an electric mixer or blender to fully incorporate the 2 ingredients.
  3. If you don’t have a blender or mixer, you may heat the mixture to help the powder dissolve. Don’t let the mixture boil, just warm it a little.
  4. Refrigerate the sodium alginate and fruit juice mixture until air bubbles from the mixing disappear. Once cool, the mixture is ready.
  5. Put the cooled fruit juice mixture into a syringe or squeeze bottle. Using the syringe or squeeze bottle, drop beads of the fruit juice mixture into the calcium lactate solution.
  6. Experiment with your preferred distance and angle in creating the droplets. You should be able to see the spherification of the pearls now.
  7. Remove the popping boba from the calcium lactate solution and rinse with distilled water.
  8. Pair your popping boba with your desired drink and enjoy!



Drop droplets with a little distance. Leaving no space between droplets will cause the pearls to stick together.

Don’t cross-contaminate the fruit juice mixture and calcium lactate solution. If the two solutions start mixing, the fruit juice mixture will have a weird gel-like texture to it.

For larger popping boba, use a ¼ teaspoon instead of a syringe or squeeze bottle.

Practice makes perfect! Don’t be discouraged if your popping boba is not spherical enough. Experiment with different droppers, angles, and sizes to achieve your desired results.


Nutritional Information

The calories in popping boba vary depending on the fruit juice used. This means that the calories of popping boba are customizable! Instead of fruit juice, you may use black tea or coffee to cut down on calorie count. Enjoy a healthy fruity bubble tea drink with your favourite low-calorie popping boba with this recipe!



Does popping boba pop in your mouth?

Popping boba is a fun and delicious treat for people of all ages. There is a thin gel-like layer outside that explodes with flavour when you bite into it or press on it with your teeth.

Can you make boba with flour?

Yes, tapioca boba is commonly made with tapioca starch. However, unlike popping boba, tapioca pearls are chewy and do not have the popping effect and flavour.

Is popping boba good for you?

Yes! The ingredients used for this recipe are very simple and are safe for consumption. You may substitute the fruit juice with a healthier alternative like tea.


Popping boba pearl is a fun dessert that can be enjoyed in many different ways. If you wish to make popping boba with your desired flavour at home, you may try our fun and simple recipe. We hope you learned something through this article.

Tell us in the comments how your popping boba turned out! 

Picture of Pearl Lemon Team
Pearl Lemon Team
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