Is Bubble Tea Healthy? A Quick Guide to What’s In this Drink

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Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is a drink that originated in Taiwan and in a few years, has been popular across the world. It is made out of a tea base (black, green, or white) partnered with milk and tapioca pearls. These pearls are chewy and sweet and add flavor to the tea and milk. 

Since it has risen in popularity, this beverage has now comes in a whole lot of variations. The flavor options have long past just teas and you can now choose between different fruity flavors and coffees. Aside from tapioca pearls, you can also decide on other add-ons such as fruit jellies, pudding, and ice. Usually, bubble tea is served cold and has a wide straw, allowing you to drink the pearls, as well. 

Types of Bubble Teas

Fruit-flavored Teas

Fruit-flavored bubble teas are a crowd favorite. It is widely available and is prepared using different fruits, such as strawberries, mangos, watermelons, grapes, bananas, kiwifruits, and more. 

Milk Teas

To make a healthier version of bubble teas, there are milk alternatives that are both healthy and tasty at the same time. For the more health-conscious, you have different milk alternatives such as condensed milk, non-dairy creamer, soy milk, low-fat milk, coconut milk, and almond milk. 

Hybrid Fruit Milk Teas

This tea is a goodie in a cup. A combination of fruits, pearls, and milk makes one of the best desserts after a meal. 

Bubble Tea Nutrition Information

According to the USDA, 8 ounces of boba tea contains:

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 0 grams 
  • Fat: 1.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 28 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 28 grams

However, the nutritional information listed above only accounts for the average and plain bubble tea. It can drastically change depending on your choice of base and if you decide on add-ons such as fruit, pudding, syrups, and more. 

Bubble also contains small amounts of: 

  •  Folate
  •  Calcium
  •  Iron
  •  Selenium

Bubble Tea

Potential Health Benefits of Bubble Tea

Generally, the calories and carbohydrates present in bubble teas can give you a sudden bump in energy. However, this drink contains high levels of sugar, which is linked to health conditions such as diabetes and obesity. 

It also provides very few health benefits, mostly coming from the tea base. 

Lower Blood Pressure

A study concluded that drinking green tea, a common tea base for this particular drink, can help lower blood pressure and total cholesterol. This lowers the risk of developing conditions like heart diseases and stroke. 

Do note though that it is the tea that gives these health benefits and not the entire bubble tea drink. If you want to maximize the benefits, opt for drinking green tea alone, without the additional ingredients that comes with the fruity drink. 

Decreased Risk of Cancer

Green tea also shows a promising impact on certain cancers. A study on green tea’s antioxidants shows that the tea can lower the risk of liver, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. 

However, not all bubble tea mixtures use green tea as a base. As mentioned, since its popularity, a lot of bubble tea enthusiasts have been creative with the drink and have been creating different kinds of concoctions. 

If you want to utilize the full effect of green tea, drink it as is. 

Side Effects of Bubble Tea

Bubble tea can be pretty addictive. The drink itself is tasty and since it has grown to have a wider menu, you’ll surely find a flavor that suits your palate. Aside from that, tapioca pearls are delicious too and add a whole new twist to the drink.

Generally, it doesn’t pose much of a health threat. It’s not the healthiest drink out there but it’s not the most destructive either. If you are an occasional drinker, having bubble tea once or twice a month, the most it can do is raise your energy.

However, if you’ve been drinking this beverage without limit, here are a few side effects to anticipate. 

Weight Gain

Regular or uncontrolled consumption of bubble tea, especially when you don’t make adjustments in your calorie intake, might result in weight gain. The combination of fruit syrup, sweet milk, and tapioca balls in a full glass of bubble tea can climb past 350 calories. 

Diabetes

Bubble tea has high levels of sugar. Aside from that, tapioca balls are a rich source of carbohydrates. This means that this drink is not recommended for people who have diabetes or are at risk of developing one. 

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