The popular drink trend, bubble tea, features chewy little pieces of boba at the bottom of a wide variety of cold drinks. From iced tea and coffee to lemonade and smoothies, the options for using boba are endless.
Table of contents
With boba now available through online stores and even local grocery stores, you may find yourself tempted to craft your own boba creation. One of the first questions that pops up is “Can boba be refrigerated?” We’ll go over this and everything else you need to know about boba in this guide to boba storage.
What is boba?
Boba are small spheres made from tapioca, or cassava, starch. You’ll often find them packaged and sold as tapioca pearls. If you’ve ever tasted a starch product, such as cornstarch, you’ve probably noticed that it has very little flavor. Because boba is made mostly of starch, it doesn’t have a strong flavor on its own. In general, it is just chewy and gives a drink a unique starchiness and a hint of flavor.
The most popular use for boba is in drinks. Bubble tea can be called a wide variety of things, including pearl tea, tapioca tea and simply boba. The prepared boba is first added to a glass or cup, then a drink is poured over the boba. An extra-wide straw allows you to both get the starchy flavor at the bottom of the drink and get a boba pearl or two while you are drinking.
To try a boba drink, all you need to do is visit any major city. Bubble tea shops can be found in both malls and as stand-alone businesses. To prepare your own boba, you can either make it from scratch using a few simple ingredients or save time by purchasing already formed boba pearls through an online retailer or a local grocery store or Asian market.
Different types of boba
There are three main types of boba. Each one adds a unique touch to your drink.
Clear boba is basic boba created from tapioca starch. Mostly used in milk-based bubble teas, clear boba doesn’t add anything but a bit of starch to the drink. As the drink sits, the boba begins to actually absorb the flavors of the drink. For example, by the time you get to the bottom of an Earl Grey milk tea, the boba will taste like Earl Grey.
Black boba has the addition of brown sugar or caramel coloring to turn the boba black. This addition creates a sweeter boba that will influence the drink. You will often find black boba paired with tea and coffee.
Flavored boba has been cooked with flavored syrups that coat the pearls with a layer of flavor and color. From your traditional strawberry and melon flavors to exotic options such as coconut, you’ll find that flavored boba adds sweetness and flavor to drinks. Some of the best uses for flavored boba include smoothies, lemonades and flavored teas.
How to prepare boba
Satisfying your boba craving at home may seem intimidating, but it is quite simple. All you need are boba pearls, water, simple syrup and a few kitchen tools. Following the directions on your boba package for amounts, you simply bring your water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan and add the boba pearls.
Stir the boba gently and watch for the boba to rise to the top of the water. Once it reaches the top, reduce your heat to medium high and cook the boba according to package directions. Traditionally sized boba usually takes 40 minutes. Don’t forget to give it a gentle stir every 10 minutes.
After removing from heat, cover the pot and leave it alone for 20 minutes before carefully draining in an appropriately sized strainer (one where it won’t fall through the holes). Rinse well with cold water.
Add the rinsed boba to your cup and then soak in simple syrup for 15 minutes. You can then mix your drink.
Storing unprepared boba
You must properly store boba to keep the chewy texture and a fresh taste. Unprepared boba are hard and dry but with the cooking process, they become chewy. The key to keeping unprepared boba in your pantry is to make sure it is in a cool, dry environment.
Most of the time, boba packaging consists of a sealed bag. An unopened boba package is perfect for storage as-is. Simply inspect the package to make sure it doesn’t have any openings or holes in it. The tapioca can be stored in a cool and dry place up to the date on the packaging. Most unopened boba packages are good for up to a year in the pantry.
Opened boba has a maximum shelf life of three months. However, most experts will say to use them within three to five days if possible. After opening the package, the boba is exposed to the moisture in the air. Over time, you will notice that the boba’s texture and flavor changes. Instead of the chewy balls you love, the boba will be sticky or soggy.
The best way to store an open package of boba is in an airtight container in a cool, dry location. Try to avoid having extra room or air in the packaging. If your boba came with a moisture-absorber package, make sure to stick that in the container with the boba.
Unprepared boba should not be refrigerated. The boba can draw moisture and odors from the air in the fridge. This will affect their texture and their flavor. However, you do want to store prepared boba in the refrigerator.
Storing prepared boba
Once cooked, prepared boba should be stored in the fridge. After rinsing, store the boba in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. The longer the boba is in the fridge, the more the texture will suffer. If you feel that it is a bit mushy, you can give it a quick boil to freshen it up. However, it will be softer than when first prepared.
Prepared boba that is already mixed with a drink can also be stored in the refrigerator. It will begin to soften after about six hours, but it should still be good for up to 24 hours.
If you find yourself asking “Can boba be refrigerated,” our answer is definitely yes! Prepared boba can be refrigerated so that you can grab it on the go, but keep in mind that fresh boba will have the best flavor and texture.
You can make your own boba drinks at home by purchasing boba. But you may be left wondering how to store the boba before and after cooking it. This quick guide to boba will help you store it correctly for the best flavor and texture.