Bubble tea is a tea-based drink that has gained a huge amount of popularity in recent decades, and has quickly spread past its native boundaries of Taiwan. Initially popular with Taiwanese schoolchildren, it is becoming a favorite choice among adults for its sweet taste, unique ingredients and huge range of flavor combinations.
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What Is Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea consists of a tea base (white, green or black) that is mixed or shaken with milk or other fruits, and then fruit jelly or tapioca balls are added, which sink to the bottom. Ice is often blended into the mixture, which results in a slushy or smoothie consistency. There are dozens of different fruits and flavor syrups that can be used in bubble tea, although some of the most popular varieties are bubble milk tea and bubble milk green tea. Combined with the variety of teas, the amount of milk, and the choice of fruit jelly or tapioca pearls means there are thousands of different combinations of bubble tea. Each of these bubble teas have different nutrient compositions, some of which offer excellent health benefits, and others that are slightly less healthy options.
The sweet and original nature of this tea has brought it to more than 30 countries, as well as more than 800 tea stores in the United States alone. Before you dig into this growing trend of bubble tea, it’s important to understand everything about this tasty treat.
What Does Bubble Tea Taste Like?
The taste of bubble tea is completely dependent on the fruit flavors or syrups that you choose to include in your drink, as well as the base flavor of the tea and the fruit jellies you add in the bottom. The flavors can range from saccharine and sweet to earthy and nutty, with some varieties even being slightly bitter or sour.
The most popular types of bubble tea are the most basic – bubble milk tea with tapioca and bubble milk green tea with tapioca. However, some of the other best bubble tea flavors include strawberry, mango, passionfruit, lychee, banana, kiwi and watermelon, as well as almond, ginger, coffee and chocolate. Tapioca balls are the standard additive to these beverages, but various other jellies can also be added, with flavors like cognac, green tea and coconut.
Is Bubble Tea Good For You?
Bubble tea can be good for you, if you choose the right ingredients and avoid adding excess sugar to the beverage. In the average tea store, bubble tea will often include condensed milk and additional sugar, boosting the overall calorie count of the drink and pushing it into the unhealthy realm. However, there are healthier ways to prepare this beverage, particularly if you are making it for yourself at home. This means that it is possible to have a healthy version of bubble tea, which will allow you to enjoy a few notable health benefits.
Owing to the sugar in bubble tea, in addition to the caffeine that is found in black, white or green tea, this popular Taiwanese drink can provide a major boost in energy. While you don’t want to overdo this beverage, given its high calorie and sugar count, a healthier version with less sugar could still provide a kickstart to your metabolism.
Immune System Strength
Green tea, one of the most popular flavors of bubble tea, contains a wide range of antioxidants, such as catechins and other polyphenols, all of which can aid the immune system by preventing oxidative stress. Furthermore, if you choose fresh fruit in your bubble tea, such as mango, strawberry or kiwi, you will also get a solid dose of vitamin C in your tea, meaning even more of a boost to your immune system.
Chronic Disease and Oxidative Stress
The polyphenols and epigallocatechins found in green tea can have impressive effects on the free radicals floating around your body. These dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism can cause cellular mutation and lead to chronic disease and cancer, so adding more of these antioxidants to your diet is always a good choice.
A calorie and sugar-rich diet is not always good for your cardiovascular health, but in the case of bubble tea, if you prepare a healthy version, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds found in the tea can protect the arteries from developing plaque, and also strengthen the blood vessel walls.
Note: These health benefits are largely negated when you drink a normal, sugar-rich and calorie-heavy bubble tea. Creating your own healthier versions of at-home bubble tea is highly recommended if you want to enjoy any of these effects.
How Do You Make Bubble Tea?
If you want to make your own bubble tea at home – and make it in a way that is better for your health – you will need tapioca pearls (boba pearls), black tea, almond milk, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Tapioca pearls are rather easy to find in most import stores and even major grocery stores. By preparing your homemade bubble tea following this recipe, you will not only get the delicious taste of bubble tea, but also the health benefits that are available.
- 1 cup of black tapioca pearls
- 3 black tea bags
- 2 cups of almond milk
- 1 cup of honey
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Step 1 – Bring a pot of water to boil and then add the tapioca pearls.
Step 2 – Occasionally stir the tapioca pearls while the water boils for roughly 15 minutes.
Step 3 – Turn off the heat and cover the pot, allowing the pearls to steep for another 10 minutes.
Step 4 – Add the honey to 1 cup of water and slowly bring to a boil in order to create a simple syrup.
Step 5 – After the simple syrup boils, remove from heat and set aside.
Step 6 – Boil another small pot of water and steep the tea bags for approximately 5 minutes.
Step 7 – Drain the tapioca pearls and then mix them into the simple syrup. Allow them to sit for 10 minutes.
Step 8 – Put the syrup-soaked pearls into the bottom of a glass.
Step 9 – Add the tea, milk, brown sugar and vanilla extract to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
Step 10 – Pour the mixture into the glass with the tapioca balls.
Step 11 – Enjoy!
Side Effects of Bubble Tea
Due to the ingredients and inherent nature of bubble tea, there are some side effects that people may want to avoid. The easiest way to avoid these unwanted side effects is to make your own bubble tea with healthier ingredients, rather than the sugar-rich teas that you often buy from tea stores and corner shops.
- Weight Gain – Once you combine the fruit syrup, sweetened condensed milk and tapioca balls to a glass of bubble tea, the calorie count can often climb past 350 calories. That is far more than one beverage should comprise in a daily or even weekly diet. Regular consumption of bubble tea, without adjustments in calorie intake in other areas, will result in weight gain. The best way to avoid this – and still enjoy bubble tea – is to switch out the condensed milk for almond milk, cut down on the tapioca balls, and use real fruit, rather than sugary syrups.
- Diabetes – Due to the incredibly high level of sugar and the fact that tapioca balls are basically pure simple carbohydrates, this beverage isn’t recommended for people who have diabetes or are at high risk for developing that condition. This drink can severely skew your recommended sugar intake for the day, and wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels.