In a large bowl, add four cups of water and the white tapioca pearls. Soak for at least eight hours on the counter.
After soaking, boil eight cups of water in a medium pot on high heat.
Add the tapioca pearls, and wait for them to float to the top. This should happen in about three minutes.
When all your tapioca pearls float, lower the heat to medium heat, cover your pot, and cook for about three minutes.
Then taste a pearl for doneness. It should be chewy, but still al dente, translucent on the edges, and opaque in the center. Note: the opaque center shows the difference between white tapioca pearls that have been pre-soaked and cooked versus white tapioca pearls that were not soaked.
Keep cooking if needed until the texture just about reaches desired doneness. If you choose to sweeten your pearls, they will keep cooking a tiny bit more in the next steps.
If you don’t need or want to sweeten the tapioca pearls, transfer the pearls to your dessert or drink by using a strainer.
Sweeten tapioca pearls
To sweeten your pearls: In a separate medium sized bowl, mix white sugar and ½ c boiling water (taken from the pot of tapioca pearls) together to make a sugar syrup.
Drain the rest of the water and transfer boba pearls directly to the sugar syrup container. Cover for 10 minutes. The end result should be chewy and sweet boba. Keep the boba in the simple syrup until assembly. You will also be using the simple syrup from this to sweeten your tea.
We have tried two ways to cook these white tapioca pearls, and the best way is to pre-soak them in water for at least eight hours or overnight to reduce active cooking time. When you pre-soak the pearls, we noticed that cooked pearls will have translucent edges, but opaque centers, whereas pearls that were not pre-soaked would take upwards of one hour simmering and become completely transparent.