Food & Nutrition

Is bubble tea healthy? We take a close look at this popular Taiwanese drink

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If you've walked into a shopping centre recently, you've almost certainly seen one of these bubble tea stalls. People of all ages go mad for them. In our local shopping centre, the stall is so popular that there is even a ticketing system! So there is no denying that bubble tea is extremely popular, but is it healthy? We wanted to find out, so we decided to do some research. Let's take a look:

What is bubble tea?

We'll start with a quick overview of what bubble tea actually is for anyone who doesn't know - it's a Taiwanese invention which takes tea and mixes it with milk and fruit juices. The bubbles are just tapioca pearls, which are essentially just pure starch. Although bubble tea looks like some kind of alien creation, you can see from the ingredients that it's actually quite a simple drink.
Bubble tea being made

How healthy is bubble tea?

So now that we know what bubble tea is made of, how healthy it is? Because bubble tea is usually sold from stalls rather than from supermarkets, the bubble tea that you can buy will vary greatly from stall to stall and it's quite hard to track down specific nutritional details for this drink. But knowing the ingredients and the ratios in which they are used, and knowing what goes into a homemade bubble tea, we can get a pretty good idea of the nutritional breakdown of a typical bubble tea.

 

Bubble tea is usually made with whole milk, and typically per 500ml of bubble tea, about 200ml of it will be milk. This would give you at least 132 calories and 7.4g of fat in a standard-size bubble tea, which is quite a significant amount.

 

But add to this the sugar which is always added to bubble tea, usually about 10g of caster sugar per 100ml according to some recipes, and you're looking at upwards of 300 calories per 500ml bubble tea. To put that into perspective, 500ml of Guinness contains less than 200 calories.

 

The one element of bubble tea which is actually good for you is the black tea used - black tea is packed with antioxidants, but we wouldn't say this makes up for all the calories and sugar you'll be consuming.

So in short, we'd say bubble tea really isn't very healthy for you. The black tea used in bubble tea provides some benefits, but the calorie, sugar, and fat content are all quite high. Let us know in the comments if you drink bubble tea regularly and what you think of our article!

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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