What is Popping Boba? Complete Guide

What is Popping Boba? Complete Guide

Since summer is in full swing, we finally have a chance to enjoy warm days and sunny weather. Yet, sometimes it may get a bit too hot outside. This is why, some refreshing treats become not just a wish, but a necessity. That being said, popping boba might be exactly what you need.

However, boba shouldn’t be associated only with the trendy “bubble tea”. There is so much more this product can offer.

Still for some people, the nature and origin of popping boba is a true mystery. This is why we want to introduce you to the essentials you should know.

So, are you ready to learn what is popping boba? Stay tuned!

What is Popping Boba?

Popping boba are small bubbles filled with juice, tea, or even coffee, which have a gell outer layer and soft filling. These boba pearls burst when you bite or cut them.

It may be a little confusing when the two terms, “boba” and “popping boba”, come into play. They shouldn’t be regarded as identical options though, because there is a significant difference.

popping bobas

Simple boba, or tapioca pearls, are made of tapioca flour which adds to their chewiness. They also need to be cooked before eating and have a rather neutral taste.

Popping boba balls, on the contrary, are soft and juicy and, as we’ve already said, their filling bursts out when you eat them. This way you have a chance to taste the sweet juice or tea they are made of. One more difference is that you don't have to cook these popping balls. You just use them as they are right from the package. Quite convenient, right?

However, to understand the concept of popping boba more comprehensively, we need to look back at its history.

Where Does Popping Boba Come From?

Since the definition of popping boba is clear, we also want to share some historical facts about the invention of this product.

Boba originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and quickly gained worldwide popularity. At the same time, it’s hard to say for sure how exactly this product appeared. Many stories are trying to explain this. Yet the legend of Lin Hsui-Hui is perhaps one of the most popular ones.

The legend tells us about a teashop owner, a woman named Lin Hsui-Hui. The drinks she made were the tastiest in the area that’s why she had quite a lot of clients.

It happened once that Lin accidentally dropped tapioca pearls into the tea, but she didn’t want to throw it away and decide to serve the drink as it was.

It turned out that such a combination added some new colouring to the traditional tea people were used to. So, this is believed to be the birth of boba.

Of course, this is just a legend and you might hear it somewhere in a different reading. Nevertheless, tapioca boba remains popular to this day and has many variations. Popping boba is one of them. It has also undergone lots of development stages to acquire its current taste and form.

How is Popping Boba made?

how to make popping boba

It’s only logical to be interested in how to make popping boba at this point. And the recipe for popping boba is quite an intriguing one since it belongs to the field of molecular gastronomy.

For starters, to make popping boba you need some liquid. It’s usually juice, coffee, different tea variations, etc. To make the pearls, you need two important ingredients 一 calcium chloride and sodium alginate.

They initiate a chemical reaction which is called spherification. As a result, we have small balls with the gelly shell and liquid inside.

You can often see that people also use gelatine or agar-agar as an alternative since these two ingredients are relatively easier to find. Anyways, popping boba pearls are an irreplaceable ingredient in lots of dishes, regardless of the way they are made. And the options are not limited only to boba tea.

If you don’t know any other methods to use this product, don’t worry too much. Just jump to the next section to find out more about popping boba recipes.

Popping Boba Recipes

popping boba recipes

If cooking is not your cup of tea, don’t be too quick to skip this section. The recipes we’ve prepared for you are really simple. You certainly don’t have to be a master chef to cope with them.

What is more, it’s always a good idea to add some creative popping boba dishes to your summer menu. Just have a look at the options we have here.

Strawberry Jasmine Boba Tea

We suggest starting with a more basic option which is boba tea. This drink is quite pricey in the cafes, thus it’s always good to know how to make it at home.

Besides, who can resist when this tea is strawberry flavoured? So, let’s move to the ingredients and preparation steps.


  • Fresh strawberries
  • Jasmine tea
  • Popping boba (strawberry flavoured or any other taste you like)
  • Ice cubes

How to make it:

  1. Wash and de-stem the strawberries.
  2. Proceed with blending the clean strawberries until you get a puree. You can also cut a few berries into small pieces and add them to the puree for extra structure.
  3. Now you can assemble your drink. Take a glass, add strawberry puree, ice cubes, jasmine tea and popping boba.
  4. Mix everything gently, garnish the drink with some more strawberries and mint leaves and you can finally take a sip!

Popping Boba with Lychee Jelly

Let’s move to our next option which is quite easy. You might also know that jelly is not that hard to make. Yet this dish is so flavourous, especially when it’s cooked with popping boba, that you shouldn't miss the chance to try it.


How to make it:

  1. Chop lychee into small pieces and put them into cube containers.
  2. Take a pot, add the lychee water there and 20g of white grass jelly powder. Mix everything thoroughly and wait until it’s boiled. You’ll need approximately 500ml of the liquid, so if don’t have as much lychee water, then substitute the remaining part substituted with water.
  3. Pour the lychee water mixture into the containers with the pieces of lychee on the bottom. Then wait for about 30 minutes for the jelly to stiffen.
  4. After that add some popping boba on top. You can use lychee-flavoured boba or any other taste you prefer. There are no restrictions as such.

Milky Bingsu with Popping Boba

If you are an advanced Korean cuisine enthusiast then you know what bingsu is. But our question is: have you ever tried to eat it together with the popping boba? If not, then it’s high time you did it.


  • Milk
  • Popping boba
  • Grass jelly
  • Red bean paste
  • Fresh fruits or berries of your choice

How to make it:

  1. Freeze a bowl of milk. The amount depends on how many portions you’d like to make.
  2. In the meantime prepare your toppings: popping boba pearls, red bean paste and grass jelly. Also, wash and chop some fruits or berries to add extra freshness to the dish. Small suggestion: the blueberry-flavoured boba will not only enhance the general taste of bingsu but also make it more appealing.
  3. Grate the frozen milk and divide it between the bowls.
  4. Add your toppings and enjoy this delicious sorbet-like dish.

So, how did you like this guide? Hopefully, it helped you to make the concept of popping boba a little bit clearer. Now you know not only how to make popping boba, but also how to use it in a bunch of other dishes.

Make sure to give a shot to the recipes on our list once to pleasantly surprise your loved ones and have an unforgettable experience yourself.

Have fun playing around with various popping boba combinations and adding more texture and flavour layers to your meals.