So here they are: the balls that gave us our name. The goal here is to get them to be QQ—the Taiwanese term for chewiness that’s similar to the Italian concept of al dente . . . but even chewier. The way you control the texture is through the boiling time. Don’t use boba that’s labeled “quick cook”—that kind of boba has a hardening quality in the starch that isn’t properly QQ. We want straight-up tapioca for this recipe. Remember to stir throughout the cooking process. Don’t let the boba stick to the bottom of the pot, since that might cause some of the balls to burn or scorch. The next key is the syrup bath, which adds the flavor. Some places keep their boba in a syrup bath over heat, which is a personal preference. We like our boba to be at room temperature for our drinks. This is for convenience (no need to keep a slow cooker in every store) and also, more important, so it doesn’t melt the ice in our drinks and thus dilute the flavors of the ingredients and toppings. Note that boba is not hard to make right, but it does need to be fairly fresh; we don’t hold our boba for more than 4 hours after they’re made. After that, they start to turn mushy—very not QQ!!
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the boba and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently during the first 10 minutes of cooking to prevent the boba from sitting at the bottom of the pot and burning. Cover the pot so the water doesn't evaporate, and stir occasionally for the remainder of the time. Add more hot water if necessary to keep the boba covered. After the 30 minutes of cooking, take the pot off the heat and let the boba rest for another 30 minutes. After the resting time, strain the boba in a colander or a strainer, discarding the water, and pour them into a mixing bowl. Stir in the syrup. After an additional 30 minutes (so 1½ hours total from the time you started cooking), the boba should have absorbed the sweetness; it won't get any sweeter if it continues to sit longer. Now your boba is ready to serve; hold it warm or at room temperature (our preference). When you add it to drinks, scoop some of the balls out with a little strainer to leave the syrup behind. The boba keeps for about 4 hours before it starts to lose its texture.
- Combine the brown and white sugars in a heatproof bowl. Whisk in the hot water until dissolved.