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Crystal Boba: A Popular Tapioca Pearl Alternative

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Crystal boba, also known as agar boba or white boba, is a type of boba or bubble used in bubble tea and other beverages or desserts. Unlike the traditional chewy tapioca pearls that are dark brown or black in color, crystal boba is translucent or clear, and it has a slightly sweet flavor and a jelly-like texture.

homemade crystal boba
Homemade Crystal Boba

What is Crystal Boba Made of?

Crystal boba is made from agar (a gelatin-like substance derived from seaweed), water, and sugar. This gives it a different texture and flavor compared to traditional tapioca pearls. Crystal boba tends to be firmer and less chewy than traditional boba. It’s popular for its unique texture, visual appeal, and the way it can contribute to the presentation of colorful drinks.

agar agar powder
 Agar Agar Powder

How to Use Crystal Boba?

Typically, crystal boba is served in cold drinks like milk tea, fruit tea, and smoothies, and it can be a fun alternative to traditional boba to add variety to your favorite drinks. It can also be used in desserts like ice cream or shaved ice.

crystal boba soda and ice cream
Crystal Boba Soda and Ice Cream

Crystal Boba Flavors

Crystal boba is typically translucent and slightly sweet. Yet while traditional crystal boba doesn’t have addtional flavors, it’s possible to come across varieties with added flavors, especially as tea shops try to innovate and offer more product variations to customers. Here are some popular crystal boba flavors in the market:

  • Brown Sugar: It adds a rich, molasses-like sweetness to the otherwise mild crystal boba. This flavor profile makes it a great addtion to beverages like milk tea. When comebined with milk or cream, the brown sugar offers a caramel-like taste, enriching the overall flavor of the drink.
    brown sugar crystal boba
    Brown Sugar Crystal Boba
  • Honey: Honey adds a unique, mildly floral sweetness to the boba. The honey crystal boba is light and subtle, making honey crystal boba a perfect variant for those looking for a less sugary but flavorful option.
    honey osmanthus crystal boba
    Honey Osmanthus Crystal Boba
  • Mango: This type of crystal boba infuses with the delicious tropical and fruity taste of mango. It’s usually sweeter than the last 2 options.
    mango crystal boba
    Mango Crystal Boba
  • Matcha: Matcha crystal boba is another delicious variant of crystal boba that has been infused with matcha, a finely ground powder made from specially processed green tea leaves.
    matcha boba
    Matcha Boba

How to Make Crystal Boba at Home?

While crystal boba is a little more time consuming to make than the regular tapioca pearl, it’s possible to create your own at home with the right ingredients and patience.

Here is a simple receipe for you to follow:

homemade crystal boba
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4.75 from 4 votes

Crystal Boba

Crystal boba is translucent or clear, and it has a slightly sweet flavor and a jelly-like texture. It pairs perfectly with milk tea, fruit tea, or ice cream. It can also be served alone with sweeteners like condensed milk or honey.
Author: Lilith Wong
Keyword: topping, vegan
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes


  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 tbsp agar-agar powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  • Mix the ingredients: In a small pot, pour your water and agar-agar powder. Stir until the agar-agar has completely dissolved in the water. This should prevent lumps from forming.
  • Add Sugar: Bring your mixture to a simmer then add in the sugar. Continue stirring until all the sugar has been completely dissolved.
  • Prepare the Molds: While your mixture is simmering, prepare your straws or mold. For the traditional boba shape, you would need a boba straw. You can also use silicone molds if you'd like different shapes.
  • Form the Boba: Once your mixture has simmered and thickened slightly (it should resemble a thin syrup), remove from heat. If you have a boba straw, you can dip the straw into the mixture, close off the top end, and then let the contents drip into a bowl of ice water to form the pearls.
    If you're using a mold, simply pour your mixture into the mold and place into the refrigerator until it completely sets, which should take about 1-2 hours.
  • Rinse and Soak: Rinse your boba in cold water once it has solidified. If you'd like to sweeten it further, you can also make a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves) and soak your boba in it for about 15 - 30 minutes.
  • Serve!: Add the crystal boba into your favorite tea or drink, and they're ready to serve!


Remember, the texture of agar boba is different from standard tapioca boba. It's a bit firmer but still enjoyable.
While natural agar-agar is flavorless, you might find some in the market that come with flavors. Feel free to experiment with these.
Nutrition Facts
Crystal Boba
Serving Size
100 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About the Author

Hello, I’m Lilith Wong. Welcome to my blog where I share authentic Chinese food and drink recipes.

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Lilith Wong

Lilith Wong is a blog writer, food lover, and the founder of Exotic Food China.

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