How Bubble Tea Affects Your Health?

Back to list 2020-09-27 14:31:51

Around the globe, boba tea has gained in popularity over the past 20 years. In China, bubble tea is now part of a new way to consume tea amongst young adults and teenagers, less prone to drink plain green or black tea. However, many experts are now concerned about the poor health benefits of over-sweetened boba. Although it includes "tea”, this doesn't mean you should be drinking boba tea on a daily basis.

Katrin Lee, clinical dietitians at Jiahui Health and her colleague Melody, accepted to answer our questions and give some recommendations to all the boba-fans out here.

Is drinking milk tea healthy?

Typically, if milk tea is only made of fresh milk and fresh tea, it is relatively healthy. Black tea and green tea are rich sources of antioxidant called polyphenols. Milk naturally is a good source of protein and calcium.

However, many milk tea selling on market nowadays are made of artificial milk or tea flavouring. Milk flavouring is usually non-dairy creamer, which may contain trans-fat in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and may increase cardiovascular disease risk.

Tea flavouring are usually syrup or sweetener which adds additional sugar to the tea. The World Health Organization’s recommended daily intake for trans-fat should not exceed 2.2 grams. Not all non-dairy creamer contains trans-fat, but we as customer, we cannot verify what ingredients being used by the merchant most of the time.

Excess of sugar can lead to excess in calorie intake which can contribute to weight gain over time, as well as increase risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

What about the bubble?

The soul of bubble tea — “Pearls”, made of tapioca flour and water, take up 1/3 cup of the tea and are sometimes the main calorie source of bubble tea. Tapioca flour is made from cassava root, which are mainly carbohydrates without much other macro and micronutrients.

The tapioca pearls are so chewy and sticky because tapioca flour contains more amylopectin than starch. Original tapioca pearls were white and translucent when they were invented in 1980s. Then black tapioca pearls were created by adding black sugar.

Nowadays, black food colouring is used commonly for the pearls as real black sugar can be costly. Food additives or other food chemicals may be used to maintain longer shelf-life and better appearance for the pearls.

So are there any benefits?

The nutritional value of bubble tea is imbalanced and poor, especially when one is not sure the quality of ingredients used. In addition, tapioca pearls are often soaked in sugar syrup after boiled to prevent sticking together. The longer they soak, the more sugar get absorbed into the pearls.

Imagine the sugar from the milk tea itself, plus the pearls with syrup… In general, most bubble tea provides high amount of calories, but provide low nutritional values, hence, we as nutritional experts called these foods or beverages ‘empty calories’.

However, if you’re sure about the tapioca made out of pure tapioca without additives or sweeteners, and you can control the sugar content of the tea and syrup used in bubble tea, there are some protein and calcium from milk, some health benefits from plain tea and some nutrients from cassava.

100 grams of cooked cassava provides 27 carbohydrates, 1g fiber, and small amount of thiamine, phosphorus and calcium. Currently, safety limit determined for this type of foods is unknown.

Here’s a conservative breakdown of average calorie number, grams of carbohydrate including sugar in 400ml standard milk tea containing 100ml plain tea (without flavoring or syrup), 150ml regular milk (not creamer), about 150ml pearls with regular syrup

*If using flavouring, sweetener and creamer with larger portion size, the calories and sugar content will increase even more.

Can I drink bubble tea every day?

You can drink bubble tea every day, but you should note that Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that one should consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugar.

Assuming an adult with 2000 calories needs, your added sugar calories should not exceed 200 calories. So you can easily exceed the recommended intake of added sugar when you are having a sugary beverage like bubble tea. Unless you can control the amount of bubble tea consumption (according to above nutrition assumption) to 200ml, then this might be still within the acceptable range.

However, if you are having unknown ingredients in your bubble tea, 200ml bubble can exceed your daily allowance too. If you are addicted to bubble milk tea and trying to reduce consumption, there are some healthier tips you may want to use when you order a drink. When placing an order, select less sugar or no sugar including less flavoured syrup, try to choose fruit tea or pure tea without pearls and milk foam, and pick a tea house that uses fresh milk and fresh tea.

Thank you Katrin & Melody!

page bottom