Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine?


Last Updated October 11th, 2019

What is bubble tea?

Tea has been one of the favorite beverages of many and has been in use from a very long time.  Tea has come of ages from just a black tea to tea with milk and various flavored teas.  Bubble tea is one of the recent inventions in tea that has gained popularity all over the world.  It is made up of milk tea, tapioca pearls, and fruits.

It can be served both hot and cold but the colder version has been the most popular one.  The tea is generally served in transparent tumblers.  The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.

Bubble tea was initially invented in Taiwan as an alternative for the regular black tea.  This tea became quite popular in the 1980s when the tea shops serving this beverage became the common hangouts for the local residents.  An unverified source claims that one of the managers from a reputed tea house had dumped a Taiwanese dessert into an ice tea and later drank it.

The tea tasted so good that this recipe was included in the menu of the tea house.  This beverage slowly gained popularity and spread all over Taiwan which is presently known as bubble tea.  The tea has become so popular that it has spread to over 30 countries with hundreds of stores in the United States alone.

Bubble tea types

The traditional type of bubble tea was generally made from black tea, milk, and tapioca pearls.  Over a period of time, many variations of bubble tea have evolved and these include:

Bubble tea with milk substitutes

Other substitutes of milk were tried other than regular milk.  This made tea healthier and suitable for people who are allergic to dairy products.  Some of the variations that can be tried include coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.

Bubble tea with added fruits

Various types of fruits were added in the tea to enrich the flavor and nutrition levels.  These include mango, grapes, apples, strawberries, pineapples, kiwi fruit, lychee fruit, etc.

Hybrid bubble tea

Hybrid versions of bubble tea are being served at various outlets where you have the privilege to customize your tea.  You can choose from the various fruits that can be added along with jellies, and again different types of milk.

How does a bubble tea taste?

As discussed earlier, bubble tea can be enjoyed both hot and cold.  It is the colder version that has been more popular than its counterpart.  The taste of bubble tea mainly depends on the ingredients that have been added.  Many people enjoy the tea with fruits and jellies apart from the tapioca pearls, which tastes something like a chewy milkshake.

Others choose to make the tea healthy and avoid dairy products and use suitable alternatives.  This type of bubble tea again depends on the ingredients used.  Black tea can be replaced with green tea and hence might end up tasting a bit different.

How does bubble tea look like?

Bubble teas are served in transparent containers and hence you could actually see what your tea looks like.  The traditional bubble tea looks like a normal milk tea with tapioca pearls at the bottom of the tumbler.  Other varieties involving fruits, jellies, and ice can look different.  It is quite obvious that the color of bubble tea would change when fruits and jellies are added.  A chilled version of bubble tea would resemble a milkshake with fruits on the top followed by the liquid portion in the middle and finally the tapioca pearls at the bottom of the tumbler.

Health benefits of bubble tea

Bubble tea has various ingredients in it that help in various aspects.  Some of the important health benefits of bubble tea include:

Energy booster

Some of the important ingredients of bubble tea include sugar and caffeine.  Sugar is obtained from the natural sugar available in the fruits as well as artificial sugar that is added to enhance the taste.  Caffeine is obtained from black tea or green tea that is added.  Sugar is a carbohydrate that is used by the body to produce energy and hence can improve the sugar levels when a person is lacking energy.  On the other hand, caffeine makes your brain alert and active.  Studies have claimed that when these two ingredients are consumed in the right quantities, they can improve the overall metabolism of a person.

Improves immune system

An important component required to improve the immune system includes antioxidants.  Antioxidants can be obtained in the form of green tea used as one of the ingredients in bubble tea.  Similarly, fruits used to prepare bubble tea provide vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant.  Antioxidants help in reducing oxidative stress.  This is a condition where the free radicals outnumber the antioxidants causing harm to the healthy cells and leading to lower immunity levels.  This can be prevented by adding antioxidants in the diet which is obtained through bubble tea.

Prevents hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a medical condition where the blood sugar levels are extremely low.  Symptoms generally include dizziness, lethargy, etc.  This may be caused due to various factors.  It is important to maintain blood sugar levels appropriately by consuming adequate carbohydrates.  Bubble tea is a suitable way to add carbs to the diet.  It is important to note that bubble tea is, in fact, a rich source of carbohydrates and hence should be consumed only in appropriate levels.

Can bubble tea cause health problems?

Bubble tea may be healthy in many ways but also has a few drawbacks associated with it.  Medical professionals consider it to be unhealthy since it is associated with a large number of calories.  Some of the major side effects of bubble tea include:

Obesity

The fruit bases bubble milk accounts for more than 300 calories per serving.  This is because of the presence of added sugar, condensed milk, fruits, and fruit syrup.  Consuming such type of beverages on a regular basis is not recommended as it can lead to obesity and weight gain.  It is advised to choose a bubble tea that is healthy such as green tea included bubble tea without the addition of condensed milk or added sugar.

Diabetes

Bubble tea is rich in sugar and carbohydrates which is not suggested for people suffering from diabetes.  Regular consumption of bubble tea can lead to a condition called hyperglycemia which can lead to other health complications as well.

May cause insomnia

The presence of caffeine in the black tea helps in keeping the mind alert and awake.  This is actually good during work hours but can cause problems when going to sleep.  Regular consumption of caffeinated beverages such as bubble tea increases the caffeine levels in the body which in turn can disrupt the circadian rhythm and affect the sleeping pattern.

Cause pimples

Green tea or black tea is helpful in detoxifying the body but at the same time when milk tea is consumed, there are numerous side effects that come with it.  Studies have revealed that consuming large quantities of milk tea can cause excess heat in the body leading to the production of pimples.  Pimples generally affect the face area but also affect other parts of the body such as neck, chest, back, etc.

High in calories and low on nutrition

This is considered as one of the biggest drawbacks associated with bubble tea.  As discussed earlier, each serving of bubble tea with condensed milk and fruits provides around 350 calories.  On the other hand, there is very little nutrition gained.  It only provides a very small amount of protein and sodium and nothing much.  This makes the drink highly unhealthy and hence needs to be avoided on a regular basis.

How to make bubble tea healthy?

It is definitely possible to make a healthy bubble tea that tastes great as well.  This would just require to find the alternatives for the ingredients that are added to the tea.  First, it is important to cut down on high fat milk and choose an alternative such as coconut milk or soy milk.  Next, bring down the calories by adding only a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Add green tea instead of black tea and there you go.

You have a healthy bubble tea that provides half the calories as compared to other fruit bases bubble tea.  At the same time, it also provides you the goodness of green tea as well.

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