How much nutrient is in bubble tea?

May 1, 2023 | 05:00 pm PT
I love drinking bubble tea every day because I’d feel awful without it. Does this drink provident nutrition? And is it addictive if I drink it too much? (Minh Trang, Hanoi)


Bubble tea is currently a very popular drink choice for many people. This concoction can bring certain benefits to the body, however, the harm it does to the body is still more prominent.

Analyzing a typical cup of bubble tea that is sold in many places today would show that it is not very nutritious. The milk for this drink was made from sugar and dairy creamer, not the kind of milk that we’d often use.

A 500ml cup of bubble tea contains about 30 grams of sugar, equivalent to 120 kcal; about 30 grams of dairy creamer primarily made from palm oil and nut oil, with a composition of 55% sugar and 35% fat, equivalent to 160 kcal.

For bubble tea that contains tapioca pearls, the main ingredients are primarily tapioca flour, sugar, and fat; 15-20 grams of pearls is almost 80 kcal. So a full cup of boba milk tea would contain about 300-350 kcal; if we were to include syrup and other toppings such as jelly, and cream cheese, then it can go over 450-500 kcal. And yet, the amount of protein, vitamins, and fiber in the drink is very low.

When it comes to homemade milk tea, made from tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls, then 500ml of it would contain about 200-250 kcal of energy – which might be safer than mass-produced milk tea.

From here, we can see that bubble tea provides a large amount of energy, which might be beneficial to people who want to gain weight. However, this energy mainly comes from sugar, while still lacking in protein, vitamins, and other essential nutrients, making it easier to accumulate inside the body as excess fat, also known as "empty calories."

Gaining weight through excess fat will increase the risk of becoming overweight, abdominal fat, and dyslipidemia. Moreover, the large amount of sugar can cause metabolic disorders, increasing the risk of diabetes.

Drinking bubble tea with a high amount of sugar and fat can also create indigestion, decreasing the appetite for other nutrients, and leading to malnutrition.

The tannin in tea can also decrease your body’s rate of absorption of certain nutrients (such as iron and calcium), so consuming too much tannin can also increase the risk of iron deficiency anemia. The caffeine found inside tea can also lead to insomnia, dizziness, lightheadedness, and nervousness.

When you said you feel awful without bubble tea, it might be a sign of addiction. In reality, bubble tea can become addictive.

Bubble tea contains a scent that triggers your taste buds. There is also caffeine that makes you more excited. Moreover, there’s also a lot of sugar – which triggers the brain to release dopamine, also known as the happy hormone. This signals the body to positively reinforce the act of drinking milk tea, turning it into an addiction.

If you want to drink less bubble tea, it is recommended that you slowly eliminate milk tea from your daily consumption, instead of going cold turkey to avoid harmful effects.

If you’re drinking bubble tea 6-7 times a week, at least once a day, then try to reduce it down to 2-3 times a week, then aim towards 2-3 times a month to a moderate amount of milk tea. When buying bubble tea, you should also cut down the amount of sugar, from 100% to 50%, and finally to 0%.

If you already drank bubble tea, then you should cut down on other sources of carbohydrates, such as rice, noodles, as well as sweets.

You should also supplement your body with more greens and fruits, balancing the number of minerals and vitamins; meals need to be nutritionally balanced and ensure that you won’t go hungry. To reduce the effect of drinking mass-produced bubble tea, it’s better to make it at home or look for places with healthier ingredients.

Dr. Nguyen Anh Duy Tung

Assistant Medical Director, Nutrihome Nutrition Clinic

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