With the rocketing fame of boba tea came many ideas to make the drink more aesthetically appealing to the crowd, most famously crystal boba. But what is crystal boba? Is it a flavor, topping, drink name, or else?
Crystal boba is a type of bubble tea topping that has a translucent appearance, hence the name. It's made using white agar powder and has a chewy texture like tapioca pearls. But what's the difference between crystal boba and regular boba? Is crystal boba healthier?
We'll answer all your questions and discuss two famous comparisons, crystal boba vs. black boba and crystal boba vs. golden boba. So without further ado, let's jump in!
What Is Crystal Boba?
Crystal boba is a type of bubble tea pearl that's characterized by its transparent appearance. It's also commonly referred to as white pearl tapioca or agar boba because of its unique color. What makes it special compared to other boba is its citrusy taste and crystal appearance.
What Is Crystal Boba Made Of?
Supposedly, crystal boba is made using the konjac plant, which is a tropical plant commonly found around Eastern Asia. But since this plant is challenging to attain, people came up with easy recipes for crystal boba involving white sugar and agar powder.
What Does Crystal Boba Taste Like?
Crystal bubbles have a mild, sweet taste with a citrusy touch. What makes them appealing to many people is that they retain their unique flavor and don't affect the taste of the tea itself. On the other hand, tapioca pearls can slightly affect the tea's taste.
Crystal Boba vs. Regular Boba
The difference between crystal boba and regular boba is that the latter is made from tapioca root starch, not the konjac plant. Also, regular boba has a distinctive black color, as opposed to the crystal clear color of crystal boba. Other than that, they both have mild flavors and chewy textures.
Just like crystal boba, regular boba can be made at home using tapioca starch and varying ingredients. Two of the most famous regular boba types people make at home are black and golden pearls.
Here are two comparisons between crystal boba and the two colors of regular boba.
Crystal Boba vs. Black Boba
Black boba is a tapioca pearl infused with brown sugar or caramel to give it a rich brownish-black color. It tastes like licorice and is much sweeter than other boba types.
Meanwhile, crystal boba is often made from coconut water, white sugar, and agar powder. It doesn't have a color, but people can infuse it with whatever food coloring they want to spice it up.
Crystal Boba vs. Golden Boba
Golden boba is another variation of tapioca pearls, but this time, it's infused with honey or golden food coloring. It has a chewy texture and a sugary taste that appeals to people who have a sweet tooth.
Apart from the color and taste, the main difference between crystal boba and golden boba is that the former has a more gelatinous texture because of the agar powder.
How to Make Crystal Boba
Crystal boba is pretty easy to make at home with a few ingredients. Our recipe mimics the original crystal boba taste, so you're in for a citrusy addition to your tea.
But before jumping right into the cooking part, we'll tell you about the ingredients and equipment you'll need. Here's a list of the ingredients you should prepare to make 10 servings of crystal boba:
- 2.2 lbs of coconut water
- 0.42 oz of agar powder
- 0.35 oz of jelly powder
- 3.5 oz of white powdered sugar
- 2 trays of ice
- 4.4 lbs of water
- 2.7 oz of vegetable oil
As for the equipment, you'll only need a pot, a squeeze bottle, and a large bowl. Here's a breakdown of all the ingredients and their role in the recipe.
Coconut water is mainly used to replace konjac gum, which is challenging to come by in places other than Eastern Asia. It has a mild, sour taste that mimics the Asian plant, making it a staple in every crystal boba recipe.
Agar is a jelly-like substance that's used as a gelatinizing and stabilizing agent in many recipes. Its powder gives crystal boba an appealing gelatinous texture that isn't too jiggly or too firm. It has no flavor or smell whatsoever, so it's a perfect addition to the recipe as it doesn't affect its taste.
While agar powder gelatinizes the crystal bubbles, it doesn't give them the chewy texture that people usually look for in boba tea. That's where jelly powder's importance shows, as it provides the bubbles with the right amount of chew. You can use whatever jelly flavor you prefer, but remember that it has to complement the citrusy taste of coconut water.
White Powdered Sugar
Now that there are ingredients for the taste and texture of crystal bubbles, you need another one for its unique crystal color. White powdered sugar is ideal because it has a sweet taste that enhances the citrusy flavor of the bubbles and gives them a clear, white color.
Crystal boba has many ingredients that can stick together while cooking, so vegetable oil is essential to keep the recipe from clumping.
Homemade Crystal Boba Recipe
Here's how to make agar boba using the ingredients we discussed.
- Pour the coconut water into a pot and leave it on the stove on low heat.
- Add jelly and agar powder to the coconut water after mixing them.
- Stir the mixture till the powder dissolves and leave it on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir for another 5 minutes.
- Leave the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
- Grab a large bowl and mix ice, oil, and water.
- Pour the coconut water mixture into a squeeze bottle after it cools down.
- Squeeze the mixture drop by drop into the large bowl you prepared earlier.
- Wait for the crystal bubbles to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Strain the bubbles and give them a quick rinse.
You should note that before the pearls sink to the bottom of the bowl, they'll float on the water's surface for a while until they cool. So don't be tempted to remove them while they're still at the top.
How Do You Use Crystal Boba?
Are you staring at the 10 servings of crystal boba you just made and wondering how to use them? Don't worry; we'll give you two ideas you can try, and they won't take much of your time.
White Pearl Bubble Tea
You can put your crystal bubbles to use immediately after making them and whip up a refreshing cup of white pearl bubble tea. First, heat a cup of milk on the stove and add a tablespoon of black tea. Leave the mixture for about 10 minutes on low heat till it gains an attractive beige color, then turn the heat off. Add a teaspoon of sugar or as much as you want.
While the tea cools, put a tall glass in the freezer for 15 minutes. After taking it out, grab a squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup and pour some on the glass's wall in a decorative fashion. Then, push the glass into the freezer for another 5 minutes.
Finally, fill the bottom of the chilled glass with your white pearl boba and pour the tea. But make sure to serve it with a thick straw so that the pearls can fit inside it and reach your mouth.
Another idea you can try is to spice up your crystal boba with some color. Put the pearls in a glass of water, and add any food coloring you like. Then, leave them for a couple of minutes till they gain color. That said, we recommend you use unflavored coloring to avoid affecting the crystal boba flavor.
If you don't want to use your crystal boba right away, you can put them in an air-tight container and store them in your freezer till you need them. But beware that doing so might cause their flavor to fade.
Is Crystal Boba Healthier?
Generally, all types of boba are unhealthy because they include food coloring, preservatives, and sugar. But crystal boba is healthier than other types because it has fewer calories and no fat content. A hundred grams of tapioca pearls often contain about 385 calories, while the same amount of crystal boba only contains 70-90 calories.
Where Can I Buy Crystal Boba?
The easiest way to buy crystal boba is through online stores. You can find them on Amazon, eBay, and other similar options.
Is Boba Tea Good for You?
While boba tea is delicious and refreshing, it isn't the healthiest drink. It contains large amounts of sugar, and the boba pearls are empty calories, providing no nutritional value whatsoever. So you can drink it occasionally, but don't make it a habit.
Crystal boba is the shiny, clear pearls you can see dancing at the bottom of your bubble tea glass. They have a transparent appearance, citrusy flavor, and chewy texture, making them an excellent addition to boba tea. If you want to try them, you can buy them from an online store or make them at home using coconut water, agar powder, and white powdered sugar.
After making them, you can either whip up a delicious cup of milk bubble tea or color them using food coloring and save them for another recipe!