Bubble tea has become increasingly popular all around the world, helped in part by social media and the internet, which has allowed aspects of Asian cultures to reach more western and European audiences.
However, with this wider consumption and appreciation, comes the need to know more about what goes into bubble tea – with one such query being the caffeine content of the beverage.
But what exactly is bubble tea, and how much caffeine does it contain?
What Is Bubble Tea?
Also known as ‘boba’, bubble tea is a Taiwanese cold drink made with tea, sweetened milk, and other ingredients – usually including balls of tapioca.
Originating in Taiwan in the early 1980s, bubble tea was brought to the United States by Taiwanese immigrants in the 1990s, where it developed an underground cult following.
In modern society, bubble tea(see also: What Are The Bubbles In Bubble Tea?) is much more widely found, most likely as a result of wider attention through the internet and social media.
What Are Some Common Ingredients?
The exact ingredients for bubble tea can vary, and can be customized to meet the taste specifications of the customer.
The main ingredients are tea, sweetened milk, and then all manner of sweet ingredients to be added once the mixture is complete.
Tea can be black, green, or oolong, and the milk can consist of almond milk, cow’s milk, powdered milk, condensed milk, soy milk, and even coconut milk.
Popular sweet additions include tapioca balls, ice cream, and even candy in more modern, western iterations of the drink.
Is Bubble Tea & Boba The Same Thing?
They are commonly used as interchangeable words, but there is a distinct difference. Boba is actually the term for the small tapioca balls that are often included in bubble tea, while ‘bubble tea’ is the term used for the drink as a whole.
However, as popularity has grown, both words are now used.
How Much Caffeine In Bubble Tea?
Of course, all types of tea contain some form of caffeine, and as such the caffeine content of bubble tea depends entirely on what the specific drink contains.
Generally speaking, there is anywhere between 100 and 160 mg of caffeine in a full cup of bubble tea – with the average being somewhere around 130 mg.
This means that those with caffeine sensitivities – or indeed those who are pregnant – should be wary of consuming the drink. The caffeine content also means that bubble tea is unsuitable for children and young people under 18.
By and large, there isn’t much more caffeine in bubble tea than in full fat sodas and coffee shop favorites, however, the fact that they are so youth orientated means that extra care needs to be taken.
Can You Get Decaf Bubble Tea?
Most bubble tea has caffeine within its ingredients, and this is especially common amongst true Taiwanese cafes.
While some establishments may offer decaf variants of their bubble tea recipes, this is not especially common – meaning those with sensitivities and intolerances should perhaps try something else instead.
Why Is Bubble Tea So Popular?
There are of course numerous different reasons why bubble tea has become so especially popular in the western world – not to mention in Asia where it has remained a mainstay beverage since its creation in the 80s.
Sweet & Tasty
Of course, one reason is the taste – something that could perhaps be compared to milkshakes or sweetened iced coffees.
This means that it is a great coffee substitute, while still giving people their necessary daily jolt of caffeine in the morning.
It is understandable why the trend became so popular in Asia – as this is where it was first introduced – however the impact the drink has had on the western world is far more interesting.
In many ways, while the tea was brought to the US in the 90s by Taiwanese immigrants and business owners, the popularity in modern times is surely a response to social media, and the increasing popularity of Asian fashion and food trends that have come with it.
As the internet has opened up the world, this means that the east and west have undergone various forms of cultural trading, with western trends being popular in the east, and vice versa.
Asian culture in particular is especially popular amongst the young, who appreciate the various art forms and aesthetics that are characteristic of the culture.
Is Bubble Tea Healthy?
While the ingredients might seem natural, bubble tea is certainly not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.
Firstly, it is chock full of carbohydrates, which are known for causing things like diabetes and weight gain in large amounts.
Generally speaking, a single cup of bubble tea can consist of 55 grams of sugar, and around 550 calories – which is a massive part of most people’s daily recommended allowance.
Bubble Tea Vs Actual Tea
Another health comparison is that, by and large, regular tea has some actual health benefits – especially amongst various herbal teas, which have been used in medicine for centuries.
Tea like ginger, chamomile, and lavender are all great for numerous digestive and bodily conditions, while bubble tea is more likely to cause unwanted conditions over time – such as the above mentioned increase in body weight, and the potential of diabetes.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about bubble tea, and how much caffeine is contained within it.
It’s true that bubble tea is becoming more popular all around the world, thanks in part to social media, and the widespread love and appreciation for Asian culture that is present therein.
However, with this popularity comes a need to understand what these beverages contain, and how they might affect those who are caffeine sensitive.
So if you are wanting to try bubble tea, but aren’t sure of what it contains, then this might just be the guide for you!