Disclaimer: It is very important to remember that there is no moral value in food - only nutrition value. This article’s intentions is to educate and empower you to make informed choices and not to shame or guilt you into avoiding specific foods or drinks. Optimum health is the balance of a nutritious diet, regular exercise and high quality recovery.
Bubble milk tea, also known as boba tea, is a popular drink made from tea, milk, and tapioca pearls that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It has since gained popularity worldwide, and continues to grow with numerous tea shops opening up in different countries. While bubble milk tea is widely loved for its unique texture and flavor, there has always been some concern about its health impacts. In this article, we will explore the question of whether bubble milk tea can be healthy, examining its ingredients and potential health effects.
What is Bubble Milk Tea, and Why is it so Delicious?
Bubble milk tea (or boba) consists of creamer, tea, milk, and chewy tapioca pearls that provide a unique texture to the drink. The tea used in bubble milk tea can vary from black, green, or oolong tea, while the milk can be dairy or non-dairy, such as almond or soy milk (1). The tapioca pearls are made from cassava starch and are often soaked in a sugary syrup, contributing to the sweet taste of the drink.
Bubble milk tea's popularity can be attributed to its sweet, creamy taste and unique texture, which appeals to a wide range of people. The drink is often customisable, allowing customers to choose their tea base, milk, and sweetness level, making it an attractive option for those who enjoy personalised beverages.
Additional ingredients such as sweeteners, syrups, and fruit flavors can be added to enhance the taste. Depending on the tea shop, the drink may be served hot or cold, with ice and other toppings such as fruit or jelly. With the customisability of the drinks and different tea shops coming out with new and unique ways to enjoy bubble milk tea, drinking one becomes a whole experience in itself.
Health Impacts of Having Too Much Bubble Tea
Whilst bubble milk tea can be a delicious treat, excessive consumption may lead to health issues. The drink is often high in calories and sugar, which can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes and other health problems (2, 3). Additionally, some bubble teas may contain additives such as thickeners, creamers and other artificial ingredients, which can have negative health effects if consumed in excess (4).
Those who are lactose intolerant may also experience discomfort with bloating and diarrhea if consuming with milk. Ignoring lactose intolerance long-term can aggravate the symptoms experienced, leading to additional health problems (5).
It is important to note that bubble tea alone, does not create health problems, but an excess of any food or beverage that is high in sugar can be a detriment. When we eat sugar, our bodies break it down into glucose and release it into the bloodstream, which triggers the release of dopamine in the brain (6).
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward, and it is released in response to a variety of pleasurable experiences, including eating sugar. Over time, the brain can become desensitised to dopamine, and it may require more sugar to produce the same pleasurable effect. This can lead to a cycle of craving and consumption, which can make sugar feel addictive (7).
Whilst not exclusive to bubble tea, it is important to consume sugary drinks in moderation and be mindful of how much we are incorporating these into our diets. For example, having it once a week versus having it daily.
Alternatives to Bubble Tea
Though we don’t food shame here, those looking for more nutritious options that still taste just like bubble tea will find solace in Far East Alchemy’s protein range. With flavours ranging from Brown Sugar Milk Tea, Taro Milk Tea, Matcha Latte and Thai Milk Tea, all the way to Durian Milk Tea or White Bunny Candy, Far East Alchemy offers protein powders that taste just like the real thing with the added bonus of containing a minimum of 23g of protein per serving and lactase enzymes for the majority of bubble tea enjoyers that are lactose intolerant.
These formulas use premium ingredients such as high quality teas, authentic flavours and Australian grass-fed whey, with no fillers, creamers or thickeners; providing a healthier option that nourishes you.
If looking for alternatives at a tea shop, you can always opt for less sugar or a menu item that is tea based only.
To provide you with the ultimate analysis and guide to your decision making, here are a few things to consider:
✅ Reasons to buy bubble tea
- It’s yum
- It’s a social activity
- It’s a vibe
❎ Reasons not to buy bubble tea
- Can be expensive (~$6AUD+ per serve)
- More sugar content
- Not nutritionally balanced
- Not suitable for the dairy intolerant
✅ Reasons to buy Far East Alchemy protein
- Tastes just like real bubble tea
- Much more affordable (~$3AUD per serve)
- High nutritional content
- No added sugar
- Lactase enzymes
- Minimum 23g of protein per serve
- Made with premium ingredients
- No fillers, thickeners or creamers
❎ Reasons not to buy Far East Alchemy protein
- We don’t stock protein of your favourite bubble tea flavour (yet)
- You have too much FEA protein and need to finish them first
Bubble milk tea is a popular drink that can be enjoyed in moderation. However, excessive consumption may lead to health issues such as weight gain and increased risk of diabetes. By making healthier choices and maintaining a balanced lifestyle, individuals can enjoy bubble milk tea in whatever shape or form they like.
- Ong, A.K.S., Prasetyo, Y.T., Libiran, Ma.A.D.C., Lontoc, Y.M.A., Lunaria, J.A.V., Manalo, A.M., Miraja, B.A., Young, M.N., Chuenyindee, T., Persada, S.F. and Perwira Redi, A.A.N. (2021). Consumer Preference Analysis on Attributes of Milk Tea: A Conjoint Analysis Approach. *Foods*, [online] 10(6), p.1382. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061382.
- Min, J.E., Green, D.B. and Kim, L. (2016). Calories and sugars in boba milk tea: implications for obesity risk in Asian Pacific Islanders. *Food Science & Nutrition*, [online] 5(1), pp.38–45. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.362.
- Chan, T.-F., Lin, W.-T., Huang, H.-L., Lee, C.-Y., Wu, P.-W., Chiu, Y.-W., Huang, C.-C., Tsai, S., Lin, C.-L. and Lee, C.-H. (2014). Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Is Associated with Components of the Metabolic Syndrome in Adolescents. *Nutrients*, [online] 6(5), pp.2088–2103. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6052088.
- Borthakur, A., Bhattacharyya, S., Anbazhagan, A.N., Kumar, A., Dudeja, P.K. and Tobacman, J.K. (2012). Prolongation of carrageenan-induced inflammation in human colonic epithelial cells by activation of an NFκB‐BCL10 loop. *Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease*, [online] 1822(8), pp.1300–1307. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2012.05.001.
- Malik, T.F. and Panuganti, K.K. (2022). *Lactose Intolerance*. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532285/
- Avena, N.M., Rada, P. and Hoebel, B.G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. *Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews*, [online] 32(1), pp.20–39. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.019.
- Kalon, E., Hong, J.Y., Tobin, C. and Schulte, T. (2016). Psychological and Neurobiological Correlates of Food Addiction. *International Review of Neurobiology*, [online] pp.85–110. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.irn.2016.06.003.