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- While bubble tea has been all over Instagram for the past few years, it’s actually not that nutritious.
- The bubbles are made from fried tapioca, with is full of starch and sugar.
- The tea also basically lacks any minerals, vitamins, or fiber.
- Registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix said it’s just sugar disguised as tea.
- It’s okay to have bubble tea as an occasional treat, but it’s probably not a good idea to drink it all the time.
Bubble tea is everywhere, but only a few years ago few people had heard of it. Now it’s a highly popular beverage you can find on the high street, at pop-ups, and of course, all over Instagram.
But although it contains the word “tea,” bubble tea – or boba – is anything but a health drink.
Reader’s Digest explained how the bubbles are round pieces of tapioca, called “tapioca pearls,” which are made from starch extracted from cassava root, a nutty-flavoured vegetable grown in South America.
Although this could be mistaken for being healthy, the pearls are boiled, before sugar and honey is added for flavour, and thus the “bubbles” alone could have 160 calories per quarter cup serving.
Overall, a bubble tea could have 300-400 calories with all the sugars and syrups added to give it flavour. And even if you don’t care about the extra calories, bubble tea doesn’t hold much in terms of nutrition – basically lacking any minerals, vitamins, or fiber.
Registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table,” told INSIDER that tea is consumed in pretty much every culture in the world, whether it’s English Breakfast with cakes and sandwiches, or green tea in Japan.
“Bubble tea, however is not just tea … It’s like sugar disguised as tea,” she said.
“A cup of plain tea, which starts out as zero calories and sugar, morphs into a bubble tea beverage that’s upwards of 400-something calories, mostly derived from sugar and starch from chewy tapioca or fruit jelly.”
She said it’s surprising that such a sugary drink is popular right now when there is so much emphasis on eating well and living healthily.
“The bottom line is that if you want something chewy that has the word bubble in it, try a piece of gum,” she said. “You’ll save hundreds of calories and your teeth.”
There are healthier bubble tea options. For instance, many shops have the option to get boba with half the sugar, or you can order a simple black, green, or herbal tea with tapioca pearls added in.