Indeed, bubble tea may just be the drink you need to start your New Year 2022 right. To note, if the drink were a person, it’s highly likely a most sought-after social media influencer at this point in time. Just a quick look at the millions of #bubbletea hashtags on Instagram as the New Year opened up should attest to all that.
Put in the mix the thousands of teashops that have sprouted in major cities all over the planet in recent years and you know bubble tea (a.k.a. pearl milk tea, boba tea, boba juice, bubble milk tea, tapioca tea) truly is one trendsetting drink like no other.
Over the years, however, all that fame has been pockmarked with negative publicity. Chief of which is the risks posed by boba tea to one’s health. Though many of these reports could be baseless, some of the flak managed to stick - finding their way to major news outlets and spreading a generous amount of queries.
However, there certainly is no need to press the panic button. Like any drink, your boba drink can only be as healthy as the ingredients one concoct it with. In this regard, we’re showing you five simple ways to ensure you get the healthiest bubble tea drink possible.
Plus, we’re giving you a way to concoct one in a heartbeat and start your new year with a bang. Just resolve to make it happen. Read on.
Is Boba a Danger to One’s Health?
Let’s face it. Your bubble tea can only be as good as the ingredients you put into it. It’s all about choices — that should be crystal clear right from the onset. The problem is you could be pushing the envelope too far when you unknowingly make the most of seemingly harmless food elements.
Indeed, we rejoice in the fact that bubble tea, a drink that has its roots in Taiwan, is a most customizable drink.
- When McDonald’s in Germany and Austria started selling bubble tea in its McCafé locations, they offered over 250 bubble tea types. Some tea shops offer even more variations than that.
But all the delicious possibilities also mean one thing: You need to be wary of what you put in your drink. One phrase can summarize all that: With great power comes great responsibility. Of course, we all know the words as attributed to Marvel’s Spider-Man.
The reason is simple. Too much of anything good can make it bad. It can even become poison.
A glorious example here is water. Our body is composed of 60% water. Indeed, we all need to drink a healthy amount of water, which as nutritionists point out is about 6 to 8 glasses in a day, to get our system going.
But while not meeting such daily water requirements can lead to disastrous results (you may not survive without water for a couple of days), too much water can also be life-threatening. Your kidneys are bound to drown as they can’t get excess water when you drink too much daily. The resulting complication is called hyponatremia.
In this perspective, we begin to understand why there are some people who have experienced health risks when indulging in bubble tea. One teenager from Shanghai, for instance, landed in the hospital recently. She was rushed to Ruijin Hospital and placed in a coma after being found unconscious by immediate family members.
Doctors found out that the Chinese teenager suffered from hyperglycemia. It’s a health complication that develops when a person has blood sugar that’s way higher than normal. As medical tests show, the teen had a blood sugar level that’s 25 times higher than usual — reportedly a result of drinking two bubble tea drinks in a day for a month.
How to Make Bubble Tea as Healthy as Ever?
Now, you can be confounded by all that head-turning news. Certainly, we would only want to have only the best food to cater to our system. And that’s exactly why you should reap the most health benefits of pearl milk tea by applying the following simple tweaks.
1) Max on Tea
If pearl milk tea were broken down into its main parts, three would stand out: the tea, the milk and the tapioca pearls. There are thousands of possible combinations one can come up with to make bubble tea, but more often than not, each of the individual varieties involves these three main ingredients.
When you want to make your bubble tea as healthy as ever, you’ll have to base it on tea. Call tea a superstar when it comes to health benefits. Countless studies have shown how the antioxidants and phytonutrients in tea harbour a slew of life-changing health benefits to counter the biggest health woes known to man. Some of these are:
Research revealed that the polyphenol in green tea epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) can effectively stop the formation of beta-amyloid plaques — a known hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Regular intake of green tea, therefore, can help fend off the dreaded negative condition.
Additionally, studies have shown that drinking tea can lower total cholesterol and blood pressure. When you make a habit out of drinking the tea, you lower your significant risk of developing stroke, heart disease and other serious cardiovascular conditions.
Additionally, other forms of tea — namely oolong, black tea, and white tea — also carry generous amounts of plant catechins and polyphenols to aid you in your overall wellbeing. The antioxidants found in these drinks can inhibit the dangerous effects of free radical damage.
The problem is due to the highly-customizable nature of bubble tea, there are times when a particular boba drink has tea left out. This is especially true when people put a premium on taste but not on nutritional value.
A classic example is the brown sugar pearl milk tea trend. While the particular variety has garnered a lot of attention lately, it’s a bubble tea that is made up of fresh milk, tapioca pearls and brown sugar syrup. Indeed, you’ll love the aesthetic Instagrammable appeal of this sweet treat. But if you want to make the healthiest of treats, this blend should not be sitting on top of your list.
2) Mind Your Sugar
It’s true a little sugar can surely make the medicine go down. But too much sugar in your cup can result in health complications. Since it became popular in the 1990s in Asia, boba drink has gained popularity in the West in the 2000s. However, current nutrition data from online sites reveal boba drinks usually contain high amounts of fat and sugar. That makes your fave tapioca drink part of the larger group of sugar-sweetened beverages or SSBs.
What that means is if you’re not careful, your bubble tea could contain too much sugar than your body needs. Worse, the delicious drink can harbour high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Thus, as an SSB, your boba drink could exceed the normal sugar and fat intake your body requires. For one, the 2015 US Dietary Guidelines warn a 16-ounce bubble tea drink can have more than their upper limit of added sugar daily intake.
All that sugar explains why you get an instant energy boost when you indulge in a serving of tapioca milk tea — not to mention the nootropic effects of tea.
But overindulgence in sugar can lead to health complications. That includes:
- Diabetes and
- Hyperglycemia (akin to the hospitalised teen in the news).
What’s more, you have tapioca balls which are teeming in carbohydrates. That surely adds to the total calorie content of the delicious drink. And if you’re not careful, you can easily slide into a slippery slope that’s bound to overwhelm your body with too much sugar and carbohydrates.
No doubt, tapioca pearls have tons of health benefits. But you could be risking it when you indulge in way too much of these chewy balls. An overload of carbohydrates can also cause your blood sugar levels to spike eventually leading to a host of health complications.
According to USDA, here’s a bubble tea composition to mind when drinking an 8-ounce boba drink:
3) Max on Real Ingredients
If you want your bubble tea to be as healthy as possible, making sure you use real ingredients is a great first step. We’re talking about real tea, real sugar and real milk. Not only do you get a better shot at having a delicious sweet treat but also at a more nutritious one.
For one, fruits and milk harbour lactose and fructose, natural sugars that are digested slower than those added sugars available in the market today. That means you keep your metabolism stable for longer using natural sugars as your blood glucose levels stay elevated.
On the other end, added sugars can lead to a sugar crash. Your blood glucose levels drop rather quickly. These sugars are processed rather quickly. Due to the sugar crash, you are left irritable and hungry — and far too often craving for another sweet pickup.
In that sense, sugar crashes can lead to a vicious cycle where boba drinkers can long for more. Loading up more calories and fats than they actually need in the process.
It’s important that you be conscientious about it too. Scrutinizing product labels and ingredients lists can certainly help. Many product labels hide added sugars. A good example here is high-fructose corn syrup. Among the health risks associated with this added sugar are:
- Fatty liver disease risk
- Weight gain risk
- Diabetes risk
Some unscrupulous businessmen even peddle fake ingredients in their bubble tea. For instance, news broke out in 2015 about tapioca pearls in boba that were allegedly made of “shoe soles”.
Fortunately, there are exemplary bubble tea products available in the market today. An excellent example is the 3:15PM Authentic Taiwan Bubble Milk Tea. Not only does it contain real ingredients (real milk, real Oolong tea, real tapioca), you can have your pearl milk tea ready in as little as 30 seconds.
4) Max on Milk
One health source worth mentioning in bubble tea is milk. All the health goodies that milk can bring should prompt you to ensure only the best milk is used in your tapioca drink.
Before the advent of bubble tea in the ’80s, there was milk tea enjoyed for centuries all over the planet. When tea as a drink arrived on the British Islands in the 17th century, it didn’t take long for the English to make the most of their black tea with an ample amount of milk and sugar. Arguably, milk tea was first concocted non in mainland China but in the United Kingdom.
The health benefits of milk cannot be overemphasized. Top of the nutrients milk offer are:
Surely, all that and more makes milk vital for one’s optimal growth that translates to bone health and superb body composition. If you want to have the best milk for the most health-inducing bubble tea concoction, then you can’t go wrong with regular cow’s milk. Additionally (if you’re vegan), you can explore non-dairy milk alternatives which usually come from seeds and legumes.
WARNING: Then again, you should keep a close watch on your milk consumption. Moderation is key. Too much milk can lead to unwanted side effects (e.g., leaky gut, diabetes).
5) Max on Fruits
Again, you may have to make a hard choice when it comes to your bubble tea to get the most health benefits of the drink. This is especially true when it comes to getting your desired flavour. Many boba tea combinations available commercially use artificial fruit flavouring to make the drink enticing. However, putting a premium on using real fruits in your drink can go a long way in obtaining the most nutrients.
Adding fresh fruits to your boba drink such as mango or strawberry means you give yourself a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Overall, that translates to a healthier immune system for your body.
Of course, you may have to do a bit of experimentation to arrive at a pearl milk tea drink that’s both delicious and nutritious. Not all fruits will go well taste-wise with a cup of boba.
Then again, if you’re in a hurry, making the most of a ready-to-mix boba is a wise choice. No worries. You can have your fave bubble tea drink in less than a minute.
Your New Year 2022 should mean greater possibilities for you. A most healthy drink is one New Year food resolution that should help you make all that happen. Add to your active lifestyle, of course.
At the end of the day, your desire to be healthier can be a lot easier when you make a timely decision. Truth be told, you can’t go wrong with a most nutritious bubble tea in your hand.