Boba tea is a delicious Taiwanese drink that has taken the world by storm. There are more than 21,000 boba shops in Taiwan alone, with thousands more around the world, including many in the United States. With such high popularity, boba drinkers want to know what’s in it, and if their favorite tea drink is bad for them or a healthy treat. As with many foods, the healthiness of boba all depends on high-quality ingredients and the different modifications you can make to each drink. Authentic boba shops such as Boba Xpress and Bestea will offer you plenty of options to make the healthiest choice for yourself each time.
Boba tea is a drink known by many names, including bubble tea and pearl milk tea. The drink is most recognized for the distinctive chewy pearls it is made with, which are traditionally made from tapioca starch. For this reason it is also sometimes referred to as tapioca tea. While there are some key ingredients in most boba teas such as tea and milk, there are a number of variations and substitutions for each one, meaning there are countless versions available.
From fresh fruit to yogurt to avocado (like the real avocados used in drinks at Boba Xpress), each ingredient combination will have a different nutrient composition and health benefits. For instance, a boba made with green tea, no added sugar, and a non-dairy milk alternative may have a completely different health impact than a strawberry boba with cheese foam and extra sweetener.
Boba tea has become a popular drink in the United States, meaning that its more traditional form has been diluted by some manufacturers. Using high quality ingredients can make the difference for an authentic, health-conscious drink. For instance, to many boba drinkers the most important characteristic of boba is the texture of the tapioca balls, known as Q, or QQ. This is the secret to the springy, chewy consistency that is also found in foods like mochi, fish balls, and certain noodles. The key to QQ is high-quality tapioca starch. Finding the best boba tea means looking for the best ingredients.
Brewed tea is the main base ingredient of most boba teas, whether traditional green or black tea, jasmine tea, or tea made from brewing vegetables such as taro root. Green tea can offer a number of proven health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, cholesterol and a decreased risk of cancer thanks to antioxidants.
Fruity boba teas contain various types of fruit jellies, syrups, and chunks of fruit. While some of these may be higher in sugar, opting for fresh fruit options increases the drink’s health impact, since fruit is an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These are particularly good for strengthening your immune system. Some delicious boba fruit options include berries, mangos, lychee, and pineapple.
There are a variety of dairy and non-dairy products used in boba teas, from whole to skim milk, as well as thickeners such as yogurt and cream cheese. In moderation, these can offer a significant number of health benefits thanks to the number of essential nutrients they contain, such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and antioxidants. Depending on your needs, you can lower your calories by drinking skim milk, or you can increase the nutrients through healthy fat by drinking whole milk. Certain dairy products also promote strong bones and lower levels of obesity. For those who suffer from lactose intolerance, many boba shops provide non-dairy alternatives such as oat milk, soy milk, and coconut milk.
Everyone is different – some people prefer milky, sweet boba while others prefer refreshing fruit bobas. Look for the best options for your taste and preferences and remember which ingredients provide the most health benefits.