Update: Homemade tapioca totally worth it.
I grumbled through the whole tapioca process, soaking the bubbles, leaving it on a stove with milk neither simmering nor boiling, separating my eggs and hating it. I was convinced it was going to be ruined, that it wouldn't have worked, that this whole ridiculous process was going to have been a giant waste of time.... right up until I folded in my peaked egg whites and took my first bite.
*insert angels singing and beams of light from above* (yes, it was that good)
And now I can never buy tapioca in a store, ever. again. It was so creamy and light and fluffy (egg whites!) and dreamy and the tapioca balls were perfectly chewy and round instead of being creepily frog-eyeish, and slightly warm from the stove and loaded with the scent of fresh vanilla....oh man. I had two massive servings last night and another for breakfast this morning.
Never having done it, I just followed the recipe with the tapioca balls, and though it didn't turn out exactly perfect (little grains of cooked egg yolks, whoops, and a scorched bottom of my pan) it still tastes like heaven. Creamy puddingy heaven.