As more and more people in Alexandria, VA, start to find the latest craze, Boba tea, I get more and more questions on its health benefits and nutritional value. First, let’s look at exactly what boba tea is. Most people trace the origins back to Taiwan, where it’s as popular as coffee is in America. It’s normally a combination of sweetened milk tea with both artificial and natural flavors in it, then topped off with tapioca pearls that look a bit like bubbles as they emerge. Hence, the name boba which is a reference to the bubbles.
You need a big straw to drink boba tea.
Unlike coffee, you don’t chug the tea, but drink it through a straw. It’s part of the fun of drinking the tea, those chewy little pearls of tapioca pop into your mouth one at a time and getting the pleasure of chewing your drink. It also comes in a variety of flavors, just like the popular coffees do today. While some of the ingredients in boba tea provide health benefits, others do not. For instance, the tea used as the base is healthy, but the sweeteners and syrups reduce the health benefits.
Plain tea vs boba tea.
Most boba tea starts out as milk tea, then tapioca balls are added. Tea of any kind has health benefits. It contains caffeine that are in smaller amounts than coffee, but still provide a benefit. Caffeine in smaller amounts is known for being heart healthy. It contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants to protect you at a cellular level. Green tea especially is also heart healthy, improves brain function, helps increase fat loss and helps prevent cancer.
It’s the fixins’ that can interfere with the health benefits.
While we all know about the benefits of milk, thanks to the Dairy Counsel, and now understand how tea is healthy, what about the rest of the drink? Boba tea that’s loaded with sweeteners and artificial flavoring isn’t the same as drinking plain tea or milk tea. Even plain milk tea has 140 calories compared to drinking plain green tea, which has zero calories. Now when you add the extra sweetener and flavored syrups, you end up with as many calories as you might consume in a meal.
- Boba tea can be served hot or cold. It can be as simple as any type of tea with tapioca balls or as complex milk tea with a variety of flavors and jellies or other types of soft gelatinous balls as the floaters instead of tapioca pearls.
- The tapioca pearls are traditionally made from tapioca starch and a ten gram serving contains an additional 35 calories. Even those have been changed in many cases, and sweeteners are added to boost the calorie count.
- The syrups added to the boba tea also add additional calories, which can make it even harder to shed pounds if you drink one or two a day with all the extras. The high sugar content can increase the risk for insulin resistance.
- Just like the healthy benefits of coffee that diminish because of the extra calories, when you order a mocha Frappuccino containing 500 Calories and sweeteners, all the additives in boba tea can diminish the health benefits of tea.
For more information, contact us today at Team Worx Fitness