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Health and Fitness News

The Bubble Tea Trend

Have you tried this trendy drink?

Tired of the same old coffee you drink every day? You may want to switch to bubble tea. Originating in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea is gaining popularity around the world, and this new twist on a traditional drink is becoming many people’s new favorite passion.

The reason it’s called bubble tea may be due to the fact it’s made with tapioca balls that resemble bubbles as they float in the bottom of the drink. Or, some people think it’s called bubble tea because bubbles form when the tea is shaken and mixed with flavors. Regardless, bubble tea has a variety of names: boba tea, tapioca tea, pearl tea, black pearl tea, pearl shake, momi milk tea, QQ, and quite a few others.

What exactly is bubble tea and is it a healthy trend? Keep reading to find out.

The Ingredients

The base ingredient of bubble tea is green or black tea. With this base, you add flavors and “bubbles” and shake them together like you would a martini. There are usually two options for bubble tea: either tea mixed with fruits or tea combined with milk and flavors. The drink may be served iced or hot. You can even mix in fresh fruit or choose from dozens of different flavored syrups and powers including chocolate, strawberry, green apple, blueberry, jasmine, passion fruit, taro, lychee, honeydew melon, peach, mocha, coconut milk, and more.

Of course, you can’t forget the bubbles at the bottom of the drink. They’re chewy, bouncy, marble-sized balls that may be black, white, clear, or other fun colors, depending on what they’re made of. Small enough to be sucked up through a large straw, these edible balls add some texture to the typical drink.

So while you drink your tea, you can chew the small bubbles as well. Most often made of tapioca (starch from the cassava plant), the bubbles may also be made of egg custard, sago, taro, or jelly from fruits, konjac, or fermented coconut water.

The Health Benefits and Dangers

Green and black teas are some of the healthiest drinks you can find. Low-calorie and filled with polyphenols and antioxidants, the compounds found in tea work to fight disease and reduce unwanted inflammation in the body. Since the base ingredient in bubble tea is tea, you know you’re doing something good for your health. Add fruit and it gets even healthier because of the natural fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Unfortunately, most bubble tea options are filled with extra, unneeded calories due to the added sugars, flavored syrups, and fruit juices. As with fancy coffee drinks, it’s not the tea that’s bad for you, it’s all the added extras that make the drink more like a high-calorie dessert. A half cup of the tapioca balls contain more than 200 calories. With a large size bubble tea, you can expect to down more than 500 calories.

So how can you enjoy bubble tea while still watching your waistline? Order a small size rather than a large. When you order, ask the shop if you can choose your sweetness level. To keep your drink low-calorie, ask for minimal added sugar or even get it unsweetened. If milk is an ingredient in your tea, opt for reduced-fat milk rather than cream or condensed milk. And while the bubble balls or pearls add a fun dimension, request fewer pearls to save on calories.