5 Facts About Bubble Tea You Ought To Know

Love bubble tea?

Bubble tea is immensely popular with Singaporeans. Dozens of bubble tea franchises can be seen sprouting up on every corner with insane queues. On weekends, several thousands of cups are sold to anxious bubble tea drinkers island-wide. Imagine all that $?! It is big business.

Bubble tea is essential milk tea or fruit-flavored iced tea. What gives it the name ‘bubble‘ is the dark-brown, chewy tapioca pearls. For as little as $2, you can buy a delicious cup of bubble tea to quench your thirst and have something to chew on at the same time!

And if you think Asians are the only ones drinking bubble tea, think again. Two months ago, McDonald’s McCafe locations in Germany began offering bubble tea. If you’re hooked on bubble tea, you have been warned. It may taste delicious but let’s break it down and look at the nutritional facts (and controversy) of this very tasty beverage.

# 1: Sugar

The sugar content of bubble tea is extremely high. How high? A cup of bubble tea has an average of 55g of sugar. According to Health Promotion Board (HPB) guidelines, a person should have about 40g to 50g of sugar per day. That’s eight to 11 teaspoons. The American Heart Association has an even more stringent daily guideline – women should consume about 25g of sugar, and men should consume about 37.5g of sugar. That is almost 50% to 100% of our daily recommended intake of sugar in one cup of bubble tea!

#2: Starch

Tapioca pearls are made from cassava root. These chewy morsels contain 65% pure starch! Starch is complex carbohydrate made up of long chains of sugar molecules. When digested, the molecules break down quickly and easily converts into sugar. This contributes to the immediate spike of your sugar levels. While moderate intake of starch is beneficial for heart health, excessive starch intake can cause weight gain.

#3: High-Calorie

A report from the Ministry of Health of Singapore shows that the average cup of bubble tea with tea, milk and pearls contain about 340 calories. Given a healthy average of 2,000 daily calories per person, one cup of bubble tea makes up 17% of the daily recommended guideline! The main calorie culprit here are the tapioca pearls. Without the pearls, a cup of red milk tea has only 112 calories.

To burn off a cup of bubble tea, you will need to run for 33 minutes, bike for 42 minutes or dance for 98 minutes. The question now – is it worth it?

#4: Toxic Contamination

One year ago, a food contamination scandal broke out in Taiwan where DEHP (a chemical plasticizer and potential carcinogen used to make plastic) was found in tapioca pearls, milk powder and juice syrups as a cost-effective stabilizer. KOI Cafe, one of Singapore’s most popular bubble tea franchise, immediately suspended their sales of tea drinks when they suspected potential contamination from their product supply. At one point in time, pearls were unavailable for three days at all Koi outlets. Although the situation is now contained, the potential still exists. How can you ever be 100% sure?

#5: Nutritional content

Huh? There is nothing nutritional about this drink. There are few vitamins and essential minerals in bubble tea. An average 350g cup of bubble tea contains the following:
Calories: 340
Protein: 1g
Fat: 6g
Carbohydrates (Sugar): 45g to 55g

Given the above points, the best way to have bubble tea is to choose 0% sugar, no pearls, choose skim or low-fat milk and no juice syrup. In the end, it is just brewed tea with ice and low-fat milk.

Not so exciting anymore right?

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