Bubble Tea Is as Unhealthy as Soda

Photo: Abi Porter/CC by 2.0

Also known as boba tea, bubble tea is an Asian drink that consists of tea mixed with fruit, flavored syrups, or milk accompanied with tapioca pearls. Originally a beverage of Taiwan, it’s become quite popular for both adults and children in the U.S. in the last decade. However, experts have been sounding the warning bells, stating that boba tea can be just as unhealthy as soda. Here are some stats:

  • KABC reports that a 12-ounce serving of boba tea contains almost 90 grams of sugar. That’s more than double a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola, which contains 39 grams of sugar.
  • The Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance launched the “Rethink Your Asian Drink” campaign, stating that boba tea has more sugar than a Snickers bar. The coalition has also reported a 68 percent increase in diabetes in Asian and Pacific Islanders in L.A. County between 1997 and 2011.
  • Add-ons to your bubble tea, such as syrups, sweetened fruit, jellies, and poppers can quickly increase the sugar content. In addition to these add-ons, cane sugar is often spooned into the bubble tea.

If you don’t want to give up your bubble tea indulgence, remember to think of it as that—an indulgence. This isn’t something you want your kids to consume on a daily basis. When you do order boba tea, ask if the fruit is fresh rather than consisting of a sugary syrup. Finally, request less sugar. Find a boba shop that will take your request for ½, ¼, or no added sugar.

Find healthier alternatives to bubble tea, such as infused water and green tea, on RethinkYourAsianDrink.org.

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