Is Bubble Tea Bad for You?

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Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Scott

Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is a popular drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. It’s a sweet, cold drink made from tea, milk, and sugar, with added chewy tapioca balls or fruit jelly at the bottom of the cup. 

Bubble tea has gained popularity worldwide, especially among younger generations, due to its unique flavor and texture.

Despite its popularity, bubble tea has been linked to a few potential health risks. The drink is high in sugar and calories, which can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, and other health problems. Additionally, the chewy tapioca balls or fruit jelly used in bubble tea are often high in calories and may contain artificial colors and flavors that can be harmful to health.

Bubble tea in glass jars
Bubble Tea | Photo by Rosalind Chang on Unsplash

What is Bubble Tea and What Makes it Unhealthy

Bubble tea typically contains tea, milk, sugar, and chewy tapioca balls or fruit jelly. The tea used in bubble tea can vary from black tea to green tea, with various flavors and sweeteners added to suit individual preferences. 

The milk used in bubble tea can be cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, or other types of milk, depending on the shop’s offerings.

One of the main reasons bubble tea is considered unhealthy is its high sugar content. A typical 16-ounce serving of bubble tea can contain up to 54 grams of sugar, which is more than the recommended daily limit of added sugars for an adult.

Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

The chewy tapioca balls or fruit jelly used in bubble tea also contribute to its unhealthiness. These toppings are often high in calories and may contain artificial colors and flavors. Additionally, the tapioca balls may pose a choking hazard, especially for young children, due to their size and texture.

The Benefits of Drinking Bubble Tea

While bubble tea is not the healthiest beverage option, it does have some potential health benefits. For example, tea is a good source of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. 

Green tea, in particular, has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including improved brain function, weight loss, and lower risk of certain types of cancer.

Additionally, some bubble tea shops offer healthier options, such as using unsweetened tea, fresh fruit juice, or plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk. Some shops also offer toppings such as chia seeds, which are high in fiber and protein and can provide some nutritional benefits.

Tips for Making Healthier Choices When Ordering Bubble Tea

If you enjoy bubble tea but want to make healthier choices, there are several things you can do when ordering. Here are some tips:

  • Choose unsweetened tea or ask for less sugar: Many bubble tea shops offer the option of unsweetened tea or less sugar. This can significantly reduce the sugar content of your drink and make it a healthier option.
  • Use plant-based milk: If you are lactose intolerant or vegan, ask for plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk. Options may include almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk.
  • Skip the toppings or choose healthier options: While the chewy tapioca balls or fruit jelly may be a big part of the appeal of bubble tea, they are also high in calories and may contain artificial colors and flavors. Consider skipping the toppings altogether or choosing healthier options, such as chia seeds or fresh fruit.
  • Watch your portion sizes: Bubble tea servings can be quite large, so consider sharing your drink with a friend or ordering a smaller size.
Tapioca Balls used n Bubble Tea
Tapioca Balls used n Bubble Tea | Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Alternatives to Drinking Bubble Tea

If you’re looking for alternatives to bubble tea, there are many options available.

  • One of the most popular alternatives is iced tea, which is refreshing and can be made with a variety of flavors and sweeteners. 
  • You could also try fruit smoothies, which are a healthy and delicious way to enjoy a cold beverage. 
  • Coconut water is another option, as it’s low in calories and packed with electrolytes. 
  • If you’re looking for a caffeine-free alternative, herbal tea is a great choice. 
  • And if you’re really craving bubbles, you could try sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice or a flavored syrup.

Whatever alternative you choose, be sure to read the ingredient labels and watch out for added sugars and artificial flavors. Ultimately, the key is to find a drink that you enjoy and that nourishes your body without compromising your health goals.

How to Find a Good Quality Bubble Tea Shop

Finding a good quality bubble tea shop can be challenging, but there are a few things you can look for to help you identify the best ones. 

First, check online reviews and ratings to see what other customers have said about the shop. If there are consistent complaints about poor quality ingredients or unsanitary conditions, it’s best to avoid that shop. 

Second, pay attention to the shop’s menu and ingredient list. A good quality bubble tea shop will use high-quality ingredients, including real fruit, fresh tea leaves, and natural sweeteners. 

Bubble (Boba) tea at home
Enjoying Boba Tea in Home Office | Photo by Kevin Canlas on Unsplash

Third, observe how the shop prepares their drinks. A good quality shop will take the time to properly brew the tea, cook the bubbles, and mix the ingredients together for a well-balanced and delicious drink. 

Finally, check the shop’s cleanliness and overall ambiance. A clean and inviting shop is a good sign that the owners take pride in their business and care about their customers’ health and well-being.


Bubble tea can be an enjoyable beverage for those who want to explore new and exciting flavors. However, it’s essential to remember that bubble tea can be high in sugar, calories, and fat. 

Tea made with powdered mixes and flavored syrups may contain artificial additives, which are less healthy than freshly-brewed loose leaf teas.

While there is no conclusive evidence suggesting that drinking bubble tea is detrimental to one’s health, some people may experience adverse reactions due to its ingredients. 

It’s always smart to examine the ingredient list before consuming bubble tea or any other food or drink. If you exercise caution and moderation when drinking bubble tea, it can be an enjoyable treat!  

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