Small tapioca pearls are boba pearls that are made for desserts predominantly instead of being used for boba drinks. They are a lot smaller than the regular boba pearls. The small tapioca pearls are used for filling pies, thickening pie fillings, as a thickener, making jam, as a boba drink topping, and for tapioca pudding.
When the tiny tapioca pearls are uncooked before they are cooked, they appear white in color. After they are cooked properly, they become translucent, starting from the outside first, then translucent on the inside. The small boba pearls are tasteless and bland without sweeteners. They are intended to soak up the flavor of what ever they are placed into as their flavor.
Because they become translucent when cooked, it is easier to tell if they are fully cooked or not. Small tapioca pearls that have not been cooked all the way through will have a translucent outer portion, but white middle that can be easily seen through the boba.
However, some small tapioca pearls will have a translucent out portion, but still be a little white in the center when they are finished cooking. It depends mostly on how they are being used, and the desired texture that the individual cooking the pearls expects them to be.
Individuals that buy these small boba pearls in the expectation of using them for a bubble tea drink, may have to cook them less to get the desired chewy texture.
Some mini or tiny tapioca pearls appear as the same color (brown or dark brown) as the original sized black tapioca pearls. These will become translucent as they cook, but appear black like the original pearls.
Some individuals buying tapioca pearls for the first time may accidentally buy the small tapioca pearls, thinking that they are the regular sized tapioca pearls for bubble tea. If these tiny boba pearls are cooked at the same times that regular tapioca pearls are cooked, they will overcook in the pot, melt, and may completely disintegrate in the water, leaving the water white.
If they don’t completely disintegrate when they are overcooked, then they may become mushy instead of chewy. Many individuals struggle with cooking small tapioca pearls, but have found success in boiling them for a short period of time (15 minutes, then simmering 10 minutes off the heat), or by simmering them at around 160 degrees Fahrenheit for around 45 minutes.
Because of their small size, they cook faster than the orginal tapioca pearls, and it is easier to overcook them.
The small tapioca pearls are also sometimes confused with the small sago pearls. The tiny tapioca pearls are made of tapioca starch, while the small sago pearls are made of starch from a tropical plant. Also, some small tapioca pearls are labeled sago pearls when they are actually small tapioca pearls. The vice-versa is also true.
When purchasing small tapioca pearls, attention has to be given to reading the ingredients to make sure the right ones are purchased. If the small sago pearls are purchased instead of the tapioca pearls, the sago pearls will take a lot longer to cook. They can still be used to make tapioca pudding or be placed in desserts though.
However, they follow a different set of instructions for cooking them. The small sago pearls need to be soaked first before they are cooked in water for atleast 2 hours. They are usually soaked overnight, then cooked afterwards. They can be soaked in sugar water or other sweetners to give them flavor before they are cooked.
The authentic small tapioca pearls should not be soaked beforehand like the sago pearls, they can go straight into the pot of boiling water after the water has started boiling. Soaking real pearls that ate made of the tapioca starch in water, could result in them falling apart before they are even cooked.
Both the small tapioca pearls and small sago pearls can be used to make delicious healthy fruit desserts, even though they are two different types of boba. They are both used for the same purposes.
The small tapioca pearls and the small sago pearls are also ironically called “Large Tapioca Pearls” on some packages, however, they are only a third of the size of the boba pearls for bubble tea. The ‘large’ tapioca pearls are the same small ones intended for tapioca pudding and desserts. They are usually soaked in water prior to cooking for atleast 2 hours.
Here is an easy sago/tapioca fruit recipe:
- 1 and a half cups of milk
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of cooked small tapioca pearls (tapioca or sago)
- Fruits of your choice or a fruit cocktail from a can
All of the ingredients can be mixed into a bowl to make an easy delicious boba fruit salad with the tiny tapioca pearls. Sweetened condensed milk can also be used to sweeten the fruit salad, instead of the sugar.
Here is an easy taro pudding recipe:
- Soak 1/4 cup of small sago pearls for at least 2 hours in cool water.
- If the boba pearls aren’t the actual sago pearls, but they are made with tapioca, then don’t soak them. Instead just add them to the boiling milk later after it begins boiling.
- Boil 4 cups of milk in a pot.
- Add 1/3 cup of sugar and stir it into the milk in the pot.
- Turn the temperature of the boiling milk down to medium-low.
- Add the small tapioca pearls to the milk and stir them in the pot.
- Cook the small tapioca pearls in the milk for 25 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir after 10 minutes, or occasionally.
- Turn the heat off and pour/serve it in a bowl.
Other things can be added to the milk whole it is cooking the small tapioca pearls. Herbs or spices for example can be added and mixed in. 1/4 of a teaspoon to a teaspoon is fine depending on how much flavor you want from the ingredients.