How Long Can Boba Sit Out?

One of the things you quickly find out about bubble tea and other boba drinks is that they are very filling. Before you know it, you have consumed as much boba as possible. You just need a break.

But how long can boba sit out? Let’s take a look at what boba is and the best storage methods to see how long you can let boba sit out.

What is boba?

Boba first became popular in Taiwan in the 1980s. It was introduced to the U.S. in 1990 and recently found immense popularity due to social media. You’ve probably noticed the tea and coffee drinks with small round pearls in the bottom. Those pearls are boba.

Boba tea drinks feature boba in the bottom. They can be captured using a wide boba straw.
Boba tea drinks are increasingly popular in the U.S.

Also known as tapioca pearls, boba is made from tapioca, or cassava, starch. Boba gives a drink a unique starchy flavor and chewy texture. Although you can take the time to make your boba from scratch, boba pearls can be purchased in a dried form for the easiest preparation.

Just a few years ago, if you wanted to find boba pearls, you’d have to find an international or Asian grocer. However, online shopping has led to the easy availability of boba. The popularity has even led to many national and local grocery stores carrying a variety of boba types.

How do you use boba?

Boba is used in a wide variety of drinks. Different types of boba are often used in different ways. There are three main types of boba: clear, black, and flavored.

Clear boba is clear or slightly opaque when cooked. It is tapioca starch and nothing else. It will add a bit of a starchy flavor to your drink, but it is mostly a flavor absorber. You’ll often find clear boba added to milk tea or coffee drinks. As the drink sits, the boba absorbs more and more of the drink’s flavor. The wide boba straw you use to drink your drink can be used to suck up the chewy and now flavorful boba as you reach the end of your drink.

Black boba has a deep black color due to the addition of brown sugar or caramel flavoring. Black boba doesn’t just look really cool, it is a bit sweeter than clear boba due to the sweetener. You’ll often find black boba paired with drinks that can handle a bit of sweetness, such as tea and coffee.

Flavored boba is cooked and then soaked in a flavored and colored simple syrup. The boba absorbs both for a fun and tasty treat. You’ll often see flavored boba with lemonades, clear drinks and even in smoothies and slushies. The flavor addition is very light. You’ll find boba flavors in both traditional fruit flavors and unique flavors such as honey and aloe.

Can you fix boba at home?

The best part of readily available boba pearls is that you can make your own boba drinks any time you want from the comfort of your own home. While different sizes of boba may require different cooking times, the process is the same.

To prepare boba, all you need is boba, water and simple syrup. Bring your water to a rapid boil in a large saucepan. Add your boba and cook according to the package directions.

Once the boba is cooked thoroughly, place a strainer in your sink. Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop your boba and place in your strainer. Give the boba a thorough rinse to remove extra starch and cool it down quickly.

You can then soak your boba in simple syrup to make your drink or store it in the refrigerator for later use. Just keep in mind that fresh boba tastes the best and has the chewy texture you crave. The longer boba is stored, the softer it will become and the more flavors it will absorb.

How do you store uncooked boba?

Storing your packages of boba is simple. You may be tempted to buy the largest boba package you can find. After all, you love it. However, the longer boba is open to the air, the more the flavor and texture suffers.

Store unopened boba packages in a cool, dry location away from sunlight. Do not store it in the fridge. There are too many odors and too much moisture floating around. A pantry or cabinet shelf is ideal. When stored properly, unopened boba can last up to a year.

Opened boba packages should be used as quickly as possible. Although it will still be good for up to three months when stored in an airtight container, opened boba is best used within five days.

Once you open a package of boba, quickly place the remaining boba in an airtight container or plastic bag. You want to have as little air as possible in the container. If you find a silica moisture-absorbing packet in your original packaging, transfer it to your airtight container. It will keep removing moisture from the air and protect your boba.

How do you store cooked boba?

Cooked boba can be stored in the fridge for a short amount of time. If you’ve found that you’ve misjudged how much boba to cook, just place the rinsed boba in an airtight container and place in the fridge. It will be good for up to five days. But each day that passes, the boba can become softer. If you feel that it is a bit slimy, just give it a quick boil to freshen it up. However, it will still be softer than when fresh.

If you’ve already mixed your boba in a drink, go ahead and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. You’ll find that after six hours, your drink will taste starchier and the boba will be softer.

How long can boba sit out?

Because boba is made from starch, it will always want to keep absorbing moisture, even after it is cooked. The chewiest boba is found in freshly created drinks. After two hours, boba becomes a bit softer. You may be able to tell that the outside is softer while the middle is still a bit chewy.

For the best flavor and texture, drink your boba drink right away.
Boba drinks are best when they are fresh.

Most boba experts agree that boba should only sit out for four hours in normal room temperatures, especially when combined with a milk-based drink. Not only will the texture and flavor of the boba be affected by time and temperature, but the drink itself could also become unsafe over time for drinking. The science is not exact, so keep in mind that a milk-based drink that sits out will have less of a safety window in extremely hot weather.

The popularity and availability of boba make it the perfect ingredient to play with. You can experiment by adding it to almost any drink you can imagine. From classic combinations such as strawberry-flavored boba in lemonade to unique combinations such as a milkshake with black boba, you’ll be inspired to try boba in everything. However, if you find that you maybe fixed a bit too much, know that you can slowly sip on it for several hours or place it in the fridge for tomorrow.