What is bubble tea?
Simply put bubble tea consists of 2 parts: 1) liquid (usually it is plain tea or milk tea) and 2) chewy (sometimes popping) bubbles.
1. Tea can be any kind and flavor: black, green, oolong, roasted, plain, and enriched with flavors; sweet or unsweetened.
The same goes for milk: it can be dairy/non-dairy, plain, sweetened or flavored.
Liquid part also includes slushies, smooths and milk of any kind and flavor.
2. The bubbles are mostly tapioca pearls (or boba). However, bubble could also be fruit, jelly, agar jelly, pudding, grass jelly and popping boba.
Boba pearls are usually black and made from cassava starch, sweet potato and brown sugar. Sometimes you can see white or colored pearls and they are made of cassava starch, caramel and chamomile root. There are many boba flavors out there. To make a tea, you need to boil tapioca balls for some time and they become jelly-like and chewy.
Bubble tea has many names such as pearl tea, milk tea, tapioca bubble tea, boba tea and pearl milk tea to name the few.
Bubble tea is usually served with ice or crashed ice, however you can also order hot bubble tea. You will always see special bubble tea straws that come with each drink. Those straws are large in size, so you can pick pearls from your drink. You don’t have to eat boba, but many people like its sweet, chewy taste and texture.
So boba milk tea is a tea you can eat. How cool is that.
Where did bubble tea come from?
The origin of this popular beverage goes back to 1980s Taiwanese tea shop owner, Liu Han‐Chieh, and his product development manager, Lin Hsiu Hui, experimented with adding different ingredients such as fruit, syrup, and Tapioca ball in milk tea beverages (source)
The drink became popular in 1990s and came to Europe and North America on 2000s. Now days bubble tea is a very popular drink and has millions of true fans around the world.
What does bubble tea taste like?
This question might seem strange but it is a very valid one. Before I tried different tea myself, I was always puzzled by different colors and textures of drinks that other people were carrying out of bubble tea places.
However, there is no definitive answer, because taste depends on the particular ingredients in the particular beverage.
Considering bubble tea is the same as milk tea, then it is kind of obvious that it would taste like tea with milk. However, other additive like sugar, syrups, and different boba flavors; popping boba, fruit jellies, grass jelly and puddings will give your drink very unique taste.
In any event bubble tea is very refreshing, delicious, cool and delicious treat.
What are the best bubble tea flavors?
Well, it is kind of hard to answer, because everyone has different preferences. I prefer teas that are not too sweet and I am really ok with all the flavors; and many times I opt from adding milk.
You really have to try different types of teas to find the one that you would love. Having said that, here are the most known and preferred boba tea flavors:
- Lychee Black Tea
- Lychee Green Tea
- Roasted Milk Tea
- Taro Bubble Tea
- Mango Green Tea
- Honeydew Boba Tea
- Matcha Milk Tea
- …and the classic one Pearl Milk Tea
I am sure that if you are a bubble tee fan you can add other amazing flavors to the list.
If you are just exploring about bubble tea and kind of hesitant where to start, I suggest to start with simple black milk tea, green milk tea or oolong milk tea and then add on flavors. This way you would know how basic tea tastes like and then you would experiment with different levels of sweetness and additives.
Also, if you are unsure which flavor to choose, ask the shop owner about the most popular flavor. This way you will be able to try new taste and even find your new favorite flavor.
Is drinking bubble tea bad for your health?
This is a very common question people ask and that is a very good question considering how many controversial publications are out there.
The tea itself is not complicated: it is brewed tea, milk, sugar and tapioca pearls. Nothing complicated.
However, once something becomes a product of mass production, there are many risks that come along with it.
Some vendors might brew tea in batches and leave them sitting for hours, which, as you can imagine, might not be the healthiest option.
What kind of products vendors use for flavors and additive syrups? What are the ingredients in those additives and are they healthy?
What kind of milk vendors are using? If it is a non-dairy product, then there could be a concern with sugar, saturated fats and carbohydrates composition. Also some places might use milk powder with extra chemicals and preservatives.
Lastly there are tapioca pearls. There have been few recalls for different brands for presence of artificial and toxic additives and colorings.
Also, bubble tea is high in calories and sugar which is obviously cannot be too healthy for you.
The bottom line is bubble tea is fine to drink as long as you do it in moderation. Also make a good research about a tea store, read consumer reviews and try to find public health inspection results.
Let’s explore bubble tea calories.
According to a research published on NCBI’s website in 2017, sugar and calorific values in boba beverage is as follows: Small cup (16 oz) has 299 calories; large cup (32 oz) has 448. (source)
I wanted to draw your attention that these calories are for the basic tea only: it is just for milk tea and boba. Once you start adding flavored syrups and other components, than the number of calories will increase.
Also keep in mind that this calories are from sugar only, add to this calories from fat, carbohydrates and the number will explode to over 500 calories per small cup (according to Wikipedia fully loaded tapioca bubble tea cup can contain up to 544 calories).
According to Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (2015) if you are aiming for 2000 calories/day diet, then your sugar intake should “equate to not more than 200 calories per day (50 grams or 12.5 teaspoons of sugar)”
Now, let’s recall that a basic small bubble tea cup contains 299 sugar calories, which is already above recommended daily dose. (source)
By any means, I am not trying to scare you or turn you away from this delicious drink. I just wanted you to be aware and if you make a choice to continue drinking milk tea with chewy bubbles, your decision will be an informative one. Also, you can make a choice not to drink this beverage daily, but opt to just few days a week.
After all, we need some small guilty pleasures in our life, otherwise what’s the point, right? Lol
Milk bubble tea or boba tea is a delicious, refreshing and cool drink. Boba tea comes in so many flavors, that anyone will be able find his or her own favorite drink. Even though there are some controversies with tapioca milk tea and studies show that bubble tea has lots of sugar and calories, you can still enjoy this unusual beverage. Drink it in moderation (I personally would not drink this tea on a daily basis) and listen to your body. If you are not sure about products and their qualities used by a vendor, then do not purchase your tea from there. You can always find bubble tea recipes and make your own tea from fresh products.
To me bubble tea is a treat, and a very awesome one!!!!
If you are wondering how to make bubble tea, please, follow this link for amazing and delicious recipes. You can also buy bubble tea kit if you want an easier option.