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Is Boba Bad For You?

Also Known As: tapioca balls



Short answer

Persistent consumption of bubble tea (Boba) is indeed bad for human health. Though it is considered by the people that guzzle it to be delicious, the health implications for prolonged consumption of Boba may be not worth the pleasures of that moment. It has taken hold in American and European youth circles, but the data is starting to come in as to effects on the body.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Boba tea, also known as bubble tea or pearl tea, is a drink that combines milk, flavored tea, and tapioca pearls.  This concoction is slurped up through a larger-than-life straw, and then the pearls are eaten. The pearls found in the Boba drink are soft and chewy, resembling that of a taffy-like candy. The tapioca pearls are generally dark colored (black) and are derived from brown sugar, sweet potato, and cassava starch.  Sometimes, light colored (white) tapioca pearls are used in the production of Boba.  The white pearls are typically made from chamomile root, cassava starch, and caramel.

Research carried out at University Hospital in Germany found that all of the tapioca pearls that were tested in the Boba drinks had trace amounts of brominated compounds including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), acetophenone and 2-(ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP).  All of these chemicals are used in industrial processes and are well known for being detrimental to the human body.  One chemical found in the tapioca pearls was styrene.  Styrene is categorized as a carcinogen and is considered to be an immediate danger to one’s health.  These compounds either have extremely slow degradation rates or are not biodegradable in any way.  Thus, these chemicals build up in the body over time.

Aside from all the hazardous ’plastic-like’ compounds found in Boba, there is the dreaded issue of calories and sugars.  One Boba tea drink carries 500 plus calories and sometimes as much as 70 grams of sugar. This is quite a spike for a “beverage snack”. We know the overconsumption of sugar can be an evil culprit responsible for diabetes II, obesity, and inflammation among many others short-term and long-term ailments.  This drink is a dangerous cocktail filled with harmful chemicals, loads of sugar, caffeine, and calories.  Skip this one and try some fresh brewed green tea with a bit of locally-harvested honey, instead!

Possible short-term side effects

  • insulin spikes
  • accelerated heart rate
  • sugar crash symptoms
  • stomach irritation
  • hyperactivity
  • inflammation

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • inflammation
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • birth defects
  • developmental complications

Ingredients to be aware of


  • temporary elevated energy level

Healthier alternatives

  • green tea with locally harvested honey
  • organic fresh fruit smoothie

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

BREXONIC Popping Boba Pearls

  • Bursting mango flavor
  • Ideal for drinks & desserts
  • Bubble tea essential
  • Fun, edible topping
  • Ready-to-serve
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 02-17-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 02-17-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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