Bursting the Bubble on Bubble Milk Tea

A Rad Drink, A Bad Diet.

On a hot summer’s day, the bubble milk tea stand beckons with an almost hypnotic imagery of an icy cool beverage swirling with tapioca pearls. Just before you give in to you daily craving, hop on our bandwagon as we take a little tour of the wonders that make up the popular drink that has swept the entire globe.

Got Milk?

Bubble milk tea sans the milk is like going to the gym with no hunks to ogle at (you know I’m right). As with most indulgent foods, the creamy nature of milk caresses the palate like you’d wish a suave guy picks you up. Unfortunately, the milk in the tea is not likely to be fresh milk, and sometimes, not really even milk. Most bubble milk tea vendors use milk essence as the main ingredient in their brews. Why? According to one write-up, a teaspoon of milk essence trumps ten cups of fresh milk. The main ingredient of the ominous milk essence is hydrogenated vegetable oil, a type of trans fat, which equates to lots of calories. Experts says that a glass of 500 ml of bubble tea a day far exceed the allowable limit of trans fat for any person. Watch those arteries!

I Need My Tea!

The tea itself, usually black or green tea, purports to be low in fat, low in calories and rich with cell-supporting antioxidants (hurray!). The caffeine in tea can be a good thing if you want a little boost in the day, but if this becomes one of your frequent indulgences, be prepared for restlessness, irritability and more caffeine the next morning. The bad, is when the milk is swirled into the tea, packing on the calories, and then some. The ugly, is what makes your bubble milk tea taste like watermelon. To add flavour, some establishments use the puree of fresh fruits (yay!), but many opt for the cost-effective method of adding in fruit syrup instead, which means sugar, sugar, sugar! (Boo!) Then you’ll definitely need more caffeine the next day.

The Black Pearl(s)

For you health buffs out there — be afraid, be very afraid. For the others, you might want to take notes as well. The pearls bobbing up and down in your beverage are made from tapioca, which is the major carb source in your drink. Here’s the blockbuster, some estimates claim that just one ounce of tapioca pearls contains 100 calories — how many are in your cup? If that’s not enough to make you scream in horror, meet Mr. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, you can call him DEHP. DEHP specializes in making things flexible, like plastic. While good in the plastic industry, DEHP is quite unwelcome into the human anatomy as he is a carcinogen, a substance that causes cancer. Some unscrupulous merchants use DEHP as an additive to make the pearls more chewier. Recently in the U.K., health officials cracked down on bubble tea ingredients suspected to have been tainted with DEHP. We hope that this does not need to occur here on our shores.

Pearl Schmearl

Having said that, if you’re still determined to have that cup of bubble milk tea, you’re not to be blamed. Just run a few more minutes on the treadmill while you’re at the gym, and you should burn off the excess carbs in no time. Maybe go for a few less pearls, just in case.

As for me, I’ll just stick with smoothies.

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