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How Long Does Boba Last?

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Made from tapioca starch, boba peals can easily take any type of tea to the next level.

While it is very rare to have leftover boba (because of how delicious it is), you may run into some situations where you would want to store the tea for later use.

How long does boba last? Boba tea can last up to 2-3 days in the fridge while uncooked boba can last up to 6 months or more in the freezer. The best way to get the most out of the boba pearls is to store them uncooked but you can also store a glass of leftover boba in the freezer or fridge too. 

Read below to learn more about boba, how to store them, how to tell when they have gone bad, and more!

What Is Boba?

Boba or bubble tea is a novelty tea that is prepared using syrup, boba pearls (tapioca pearls), milk, ice, and any blend of tea leaves. 

Boba tea has garnered a lot of popularity over the years and has become a staple in many regions with some coffeehouses even focusing solely on selling varieties of milk and boba teas. 

Tapioca pearls are made with simple ingredients and can be compared to regular dough. That’s right, the chewy and succulent balls found in these teas are just cooked dough balls!

To understand how to store them, let’s first talk about how boba pearls are made. 

There are several varieties of boba, some are referred to as the classic boba pearls made from tapioca starch while the others can be referred to as “exploding boba” which are just gel or agar-based spheres that contain fruit juice. 

To make the classic boba pearls, all you need is tapioca starch, water, and brown sugar—that’s it!

The brown sugar is first dissolved in water and then the starch is added to the mixture until a dough forms. 

Once the dough is ready it is shaped and rolled into elongated logs. The logs are then cut into small pieces and the individual pieces are further shaped into small balls; this is the basis of simple boba pearls. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a great video covering how to make boba pearls from scratch!

How Long Does Boba Last?

Let’s explore some popular variations of boba and find out how long these little pearls last!

Homemade Raw Boba Pearls

Once the raw dough balls are ready, they are lightly dusted with additional tapioca starch and then left to cool in the fridge. 

Now, in their raw form, the tapioca balls can last a long time when stored in the freezer. The best way to store them is to keep all the lightly dusted balls in an airtight container. Keep the container at the back of the freezer at 0°F. 

If these storage conditions are maintained then you can expect the balls to remain edible for up to 6 months

On the other hand, if you want to use the pearls the next day then you can easily store them in the fridge as well.

The tapioca balls will remain edible for up to 6 days in the fridge but we recommend that you use them within 3-4 days for the best texture

Remember, even though these balls contain simple ingredients, they are meant to be stored in the fridge or freezer to avoid spoilage.

Many people believe that tapioca pearls can indefinitely remain edible; this isn’t true! They can go bad fast, especially if they aren’t stored correctly! 

Furthermore, since there are no improvers, additives, or preservatives in the dough, homemade boba pearls will NOT have that long of a shelf life.

However, they will end up tasting better than the commercial variety due to the use of high-quality and natural ingredients. 

Commercial Boba

Commercial boba can last a significantly long time than homemade boba – but they will usually contain a lot of additives to give them their prolonged shelf life.

An unopened bag of commercial tapioca pearls will last around 6-12 months at a minimum but you should always check the back of the packaging for the best before or expiry date for your particular boba brand.

Once opened, the boba pearls will require to be stored in an airtight container.

Please always follow the specific storage indications for the best experience because not all commercial boba pearls are meant to be frozen and some may even start to break apart after thawing them! 

Cooked Boba Pearls

In the context of boba, “cooked” just means that the raw dough balls are boiled in water until translucent and then submerged in caramel syrup. 

Once the boba peals have been hydrated, they will have a significantly shorter shelf life. But more than that, they will also start to lose their delicate texture too

See, cooked boba pearls have a shiny exterior with a translucent interior. The balls are spongey but easily chewable and adequately tender. 

These textural qualities of boba pearls will start to diminish as soon as they are rendered via heat so you should try to consume the cooked boba within 6 hours of assembling the tea.

Once the syrup, boba, milk, tea, and ice cubes are added, it is GO time!

While you may be able to store leftover tea in the fridge for about 2-3 days, if you want the best experience then we highly recommend that you store the boba for no more than 4 hours and try to consume it within 6 hours

The reason why you should avoid consuming 2–3-day old cooked boba is that the pearls will become overly hydrated and will lose a lot of their signature texture.

Furthermore, if you have added ice to the tea, then you may have to deal with a highly watered down and diluted tea base!

Cooked Commercial Boba

Whether you use commercial-grade tapioca balls or a premade tall glass of boba from your favorite coffeehouse, the best way to store the tea would be to keep it in the container that it came in. 

Make sure that the lid is on and that you store the tea in the fridge, preferably away from strong-smelling food.

Commercial boba may contain stabilizers so it is hard to say how long they will last in the fridge but on average, even the commercial tapioca pearls will start to lose their texture after the first day of storage. 

This is why we recommend consuming the drink within 8-12 hours. You can also ask the barista for more specific storage information

Freezing these drinks is not ideal because they usually contain a lot of dairy and cream. As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid freezing boba tea because it will have a greatly different texture and flavor when thawed. 

Signs Of Spoilage

Boba pearls and milk tea can go bad just like any other dairy beverage. Here are some signs of spoilage for stored boba products:

Discoloration And Molding

Boba pearls are usually light to dark brown depending on the type of syrup used to make them. Also, raw boba pearls can have a dough-like color with a whitish layer, especially when dusted with starch.

When boba starts to go bad, you should be able to notice a color change.

Begin by checking the cooked boba in the tea, grab a couple of boba with a spoon and inspect them for spoilage. Off-putting colors like green, grey, and yellow are a clear sign that the boba has gone bad.  

Furthermore, check the top surface of the tea for further signs of spoilage. In general, if the boba has gone bad then you should just discard all of the beverage. Uncooked boba will need to be checked for the same textural changes too. 

Slime And Foul Odor

Another big sign of spoilage is slime and a foul odor. While the boba pearls are meant to be a bit slippery, they will never be slimy, even when drenched in syrup.

Always inspect the boba before consuming the tea and check the milk for foul odor or an off-putting flavor as well.

Related Questions 

Boba pearls are very resilient to spoilage but if they are not stored properly, they can go bad just as fast as any other ingredient! 

Now that you know how to store boba and how to check for signs of spoilage, here are some related questions!

Can bursting boba go bad too? 

Bursting boba is made from agar powder and is a gelatinous form of boba pearls. They are not made using starch and can last a long time, in some cases, they can last in the refrigerator for up to 18 months

These pearls contain fruit juice and can take on the flavor of any liquid base they are added to so please make sure that all the ingredients are as fresh as the pearls before consumption. 

What is the best way to thaw boba?

Uncooked frozen boba can be thawed by simply boiling them. Do not microwave the boba as it will loosen their structure and make them very tender

To maintain their shape and texture, always directly add the boba to a pot of boiling water and cook them as indicated.

Once cooked, the boba pearls can be either used immediately or you could also store them in the fridge for about 6-8 hours for the best texture. 

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