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How many calories are in boba? Is there a lot of calories in bubble tea? Will bubble tea make me gain weight? Is boba even healthy? How healthy is boba?
What do you think? Be honest, you’ve asked yourself this at least once or maybe your best friend has brought this topic within the friend circle at least once. Either way, there always seem to be someone, especially the new boba drinker, that brings up the question how much calories are there in boba. (We’re guilty of it too, in case you wanted to know).
The short answer, not that much at all.
But you’re not here the short answer are you now. Let’s break it down and see why there really isn’t that much calories in a drink called bubble tea.
What Ingredients Make Up Bubble Tea?
First, we have to answer the question of what exactly is in your typical milk teas that you can’t really get enough of. Generally bubble tea consists of 4 parts: the tea, the milk, the sweetener and the tapioca pearls.
Typically any great kind of milk tea or bubble tea will have some sort of tea whether it’s made from your store bought tea bags like Lipton black tea or the more fancy and organic way, actual tea leaves.
Whether your favorite boba shop steeps tea from tea leaves or tea bags it’s a rather important ingredient that makes the whole bubble tea experience that delicious. The tea plays such an important role, if not the most important.
In our opinion, the bitterness and depth of flavors that teas allow you to taste, mixed with the sweetener and milk is what makes the bubble tea experience come full circle. The tea helps to balance out the silky smooth milk and the sweetener nicely. The tea is the base, just like how coffee is in a great latte.
To add to the experience, milk is equally as important as the tea is. The milk used in bubble teas serve to give you that silky and smooth texture when sipping on a good milk tea. (Thai tea is one of our favorites if you were wondering).
If you ever find a boba shop that truly prides themselves in making delicious bubble teas with real milk and tea, you’re in for a treat. Sometimes it’s hard to come by these shops though. In general, majority of the bubble tea shops you see take the shortcut.
They usually make bubble tea with powder mix similar to this. For example if you were to order honeydew tea, if you don’t see real honeydew being chopped up in the blend, it’s safe to say that they use an alternative like powder.
Shops use powder simply because it’s more cost effective and quicker to make when ordered. In our humble boba opinion, doing it the right way without the powder is the best for quality. Price may be more expensive but the freshness in the ingredients is hard to beat.
In addition to the tea and milk, the two most important ingredients in a good bubble tea, you have the sweetener to bring everything together.
Usually boba shops will use syrups of several different flavors in order to give you the sweet taste you desire, especially in the fruity drinks. However, some shops will opt for condensed milk instead or a simple syrup.
With condensed milk, you’re getting two of the best worlds, creamy texture and sweetness added to your already great drink.
Here’s a tip, when ordering bubble teas at your local boba shop, be sure to ask for 50 – 75% of sugar if you’re not that big on sugary drinks. Boba tends to be more on the sweeter side than bitter, but if you like tasting the slight bitterness of authentic tea, be sure to opt for a lower percentage of sweetness in your bubble tea.
To bring everything that is above together, the tapioca pearls are added for a nice chewy bite. Sometimes it is a hit or miss for a great texture in boba pearls. If you order your bubble tea with pearls (sometimes people order without) this can make or break your entire experience.
A good texture for boba is to have a chew that takes 8-15 bites to finish. Anything more or less is simply not that great.
If you chew less than 8 times, your boba may actually be more starchy and break up too fast, giving you a very bad texture almost like chewing bits of left over rice. (Who knows this texture very well?) If you chew anymore than 15 times, your boba is too chewy almost like gum.
With each bite of boba pearls, it should break down naturally in 8-15 bites.
What are the Calories in Bubble Tea?
Now that we’ve established the key ingredients that make up a great boba drink, let’s dive into the calories of each part.
We promise, it’s not that bad actually.
How much calories are because of the tea in bubble tea?
In majority of teas whether it is black tea, green tea or some other herbal tea, there are hardly any calories. If anything, a typical home made brew of tea is less than 5 calories at most.
It doesn’t matter if you use a tea bag or actual tea leaves, the boiled water that is later steeped into tea has little to no calories at all. This is part of the reason why bubble tea doesn’t have much calories when you think about it. The base (the biggest portion in terms of ingredients in boba) doesn’t have much calories at all, let alone any.
It’s the other ingredients or parts of the bubble tea that contain the calories but not as much as you’d think.
What are the calories of milk in bubble tea?
Since a normal 8oz cup of bubble tea typically has a small portion of milk, the calories don’t add up too fast.
In any cup of bubble tea you’re looking to have about 50 – 80 calories due to the milk. Now depending on what milk is used will determine whether your boba calories fall into the higher range or lower range. Some milks that commonly used are regular milk, non-dairy milk, almond milk or soy milk.
Is there a lot of calories in sweeteners?
Here’s where it gets a bit tricky.
Let’s start with regular simply syrups or flavored syrups that boba shops tend to use often. Like any syrup, it’s mostly made of sugar and water boiled together. When counting the calories in 1 oz of simple syrup, you’re looking at about 30 – 50 calories.
Where as condensed milk, you can expect to see around 100 – 130 calories per 1 oz of condensed milk. Being that it is sweetened and a concentration of milk, the small amount packs a big punch when it comes to calories.
But, with all the above so far your simple bubble tea is looking to be around 200 calories, which isn’t too bad at all. (Like any good thing, balance is key!)
How much calories are in tapioca pearls?
Finally, in order to sum up the total amount of calories any typical bubble tea can have, we have to add in the tapioca pearls. Assuming you’ve ordered this with your bubble tea of course.
Tapioca pearls are made of cassava starch, and being made of starch, it’s full of carbohydrates. In terms of calories you’re looking around 100 – 135 calories worth of tapioca pearls in any normal sized bubble tea.
Typically bubble tea shops will scoop ¼ a cup of tapioca pearls that translates to the above calorie count.
With all said and done, the total count for a normal sized bubble tea is looking to be around 280 – 350 calories. Keep in mind some stores add more sugars into the flavors and some even add more boba so the calories can definitely creep upwards to 400 – 500 calories per drink.
If you’re feeling a bit loose, why not! Go for the higher calorie count, at least your taste buds won’t regret it.
Now that you’ve read the above details in what goes into a normal bubble tea drink, do you think it was all that bad after all? We don’t think it is. As long as there is moderation and you’re not drinking bubble tea 3 times a day, we think you shouldn’t have any worries about whether it’s unhealthy or not.
Life is about balance!
Anyways, thanks for reading with talk boba and be sure to comment below. Did we fix your initial thoughts about bubble tea being too unhealthy or no? Let us know below and like always talk about boba, duh!