There is no dearth of tea lovers across the globe who like to indulge in different variations of this extremely popular beverage. One of such options is bubble tea also known as boba or pearl milk tea. A Taiwanese drink, bubble tea is fun to make and promises to boost your mood and energy levels with its burst of flavours and rich ingredients. Highly customizable, bubble tea is made by adding milk, ice, sugar, fruits and other sweet toppings of your choice to the classic or green tea. While it is an ultimate sensory luxury, bubble tea being high in sugar, fats and simple carbohydrates can be harmful for health if consumed regularly and in excess. On National Bubble Tea Day, a nutritionist discusses health benefits, side effects and a recipe of bubble tea. (Also read | Drink a cup of cinnamon tea every day to prevent blood sugar spikes; know all benefits)

A Taiwanese drink, bubble tea is fun to make and promises to boost your mood and energy levels with its burst of flavours and rich ingredients.(Freepik)

A Taiwanese beverage, bubble tea was created in 1980s by Liu Han-chieh, who began serving it at his teahouse. Another claim says Tu Tsung-ho was the creator of this amazing drink. The idea was to combined the creaminess of milk with the chewy tapioca pearls to give the taste buds a unique and refreshing experience. With time, this cold beverage became popular across the globe.

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What is bubble tea made of?

Bubble tea is made by combining tea with milk, fruit, fruit juices, and adding tapioca pearls in the end. It is then mixed together by shaking it well.

Bubble tea is a blend of milk, tea, fruit and tapioca pearls.(Freepik)
Bubble tea is a blend of milk, tea, fruit and tapioca pearls.(Freepik)

Is bubble tea hot or cold?

Although bubble tea is typically prepared cold, those craving for the creamy and delicious tea in winter, can also prepare a hot and steamy version to get the warmth.

Why is bubble tea so popular?

The highly versatile bubble tea is a rich, refreshing and indulgent drink. Depending on the ingredients you add, each time you can get a different experience by sipping on this tea. Being high in fats, sugar and simple carbs, it doesn’t offer significant benefits and could potentially raise risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. However, having it in moderation and once in a while could be safe.

Is bubble tea healthy or harmful for you?

Nutritionist Abhilasha says bubble tea has hardly any benefits and can only be enjoyed only in moderation. Consuming it in excess can land you at risk of several chronic diseases.

Abhilasha V, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, HRBR Layout shares health benefits and side effects of the popular beverage. She also shares a recipe to be enjoyed in moderation.

High sugar content: Bubble tea often contains a lot of sugar, especially if you choose sweetened flavours or toppings like tapioca pearls. Excessive sugar consumption can contribute to various health issues such as weight gain, diabetes, and dental problems.

Caloric intake: The calorie content of bubble tea can be significant due to added sugars. Consuming calorie-dense drinks regularly without accounting for them in your overall diet can lead to weight gain.

Tapioca pearls: The chewy tapioca pearls used in bubble tea are made from cassava root and are typically high in carbohydrates. While they’re not inherently unhealthy, they do add extra calories and carbohydrates to your drink.

Nutrient content: Bubble tea doesn’t offer significant nutritional benefits. It’s mainly a source of empty calories from sugar and carbohydrates without essential vitamins or minerals.

Caffeine content: Some bubble teas contain tea, which means they may have caffeine. While moderate caffeine consumption can have some health benefits, excessive caffeine intake can lead to problems like insomnia, jitteriness, or increased heart rate.

Benefits of bubble tea

Hydration: Like any beverage, bubble tea can contribute to your daily fluid intake, helping to keep you hydrated.

Antioxidants: If made with tea (like green or black tea), bubble tea can provide antioxidants such as catechins and flavonoids, which may have health benefits including reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

Flavour: Bubble tea can be a fun way to enjoy different flavours and textures, which can contribute to overall enjoyment and satisfaction in your diet.

Potential side effects

High sugar content: Many bubble tea drinks are loaded with sugar, which can contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

Caloric intake: Bubble tea can be high in calories, especially when made with sugary syrups, sweetened condensed milk, or topped with high-calorie ingredients like tapioca pearls.

Caffeine: If bubble tea contains tea (like black or green tea), it may also contain caffeine. Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to sleep disturbances, jitteriness, increased heart rate, and other side effects.

Tapioca pearls: The tapioca pearls used in bubble tea are mainly composed of starch and can be high in carbohydrates. Consuming large amounts of tapioca pearls regularly may contribute to excess calorie intake and potential digestive issues for some individuals.

The right way to consume bubble tea

Portion control: Enjoy bubble tea in moderation, considering it as an occasional treat rather than a daily beverage.

Customization: Opt for less sugar or sugar-free options when possible and choose healthier toppings like fruit jellies or aloe vera instead of tapioca pearls to reduce calorie and carbohydrate intake.

Balanced diet: Bubble tea should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Hydration: While bubble tea can contribute to hydration, it’s essential to drink plenty of water throughout the day to meet your body’s fluid needs.

While bubble tea can be a fun and enjoyable beverage, it’s important to consume it in moderation and be mindful of its potential health impacts, particularly its sugar and calorie content. Making informed choices and considering healthier alternatives can help you enjoy bubble tea responsibly as part of an overall balanced diet.

Bubble tea recipe

Here’s a basic recipe for classic milk bubble tea (also known as boba tea) along with instructions, ingredients, and estimated preparation time:


For the Tea Base

2 cups of water

2 tea bags (black tea or green tea, depending on preference)

Sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, or simple syrup), to taste

For the bubble (tapioca) pearls

1/2 cup dried tapioca pearls

Water for boiling

For the milk tea

1 cup brewed tea (from the tea base)

1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy, like almond milk or oat milk)

Sweetener (optional, to taste)

For Serving:

Ice cubes

Extra-wide bubble tea straws


1. Prepare the tea base: In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Let steep for 5-7 minutes or until desired strength. Remove the tea bags and let the tea cool. Add sweetener to taste while the tea is still warm. Set aside.

2. Cook the tapioca pearls: Bring a pot of water (about 4 cups) to a boil. Add the tapioca pearls to the boiling water. Stir gently to prevent sticking. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pearls are tender but slightly chewy. Drain and rinse the cooked tapioca pearls under cold water to remove excess starch. Set aside.

3. Make the milk tea: In a glass, combine 1 cup of the brewed tea (cooled) with 1/2 cup of milk. Add sweetener if desired and stir well to mix.

4. Assemble the bubble tea: Place a handful of cooked tapioca pearls into the bottom of a serving glass. Add ice cubes to the glass (optional). Pour the milk tea mixture over the pearls and ice.

5. Serve and enjoy: Insert a wide bubble tea straw into the glass. Stir the bubble tea to combine the flavors of the tea, milk, and tapioca pearls. Sip and enjoy your homemade bubble tea!

Estimated Time:

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes (for brewing tea and cooking tapioca pearls)

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes (for tapioca pearls)

Total time: Approximately 20-30 minutes

Feel free to adjust the sweetness and milk ratio based on your preferences. You can also customize your bubble tea by adding flavoured syrups, fruit purees, or different types of tea. Enjoy your delicious homemade bubble tea!

If you enjoy bubble tea occasionally as a treat and are mindful of its calorie and sugar content, it can be part of a balanced diet. However, if you’re looking for healthier options, you might consider choosing unsweetened varieties, reducing the sugar level, or opting for alternatives like green or black tea without additional sweeteners.

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