In recent years, bubble tea has skyrocketed and became one of the trendy drinks for internet foodies everywhere. You can now find a bubble tea store on practically many street corners in Klang Valley. In SS15, Subang Jaya alone there are 10 bubble tea shops! Thus, the town is also known as the “Bubble Tea Street”.
Bubble tea is a tea-based drink originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. The original drink contains hot Taiwanese black tea, condensed milk, syrup or honey and topped with small tapioca pearls. The creator of bubble tea is Lin Hsiu Hui, a teahouse product development manager of Chun Shui Tang tearoom in Taichung, Taiwan. One fortunate day in 1988, she got bored during a meeting and randomly poured her tapioca dessert into the iced tea. Her recipe was well received at the meeting and soon after, the beverage was included on the menu. Subsequently, it became the franchise’s top selling product.
The “bubble” in bubble tea actually refers to the oxygen pockets formed by shaking the tea.
Bubble tea is also called milk tea, pearl tea, boba tea, tapioca tea, boba nai cha, foam milk tea and QQ tea (which means chewy in Taiwanese).
The pearls found at the bottom of the tea are called tapioca pearls are made from starch extracted from cassava root which are loaded with carbohydrates. This mixture is formed into flour balls and then boiled in hot water, then saturated with sugar and cooked for up to 3 hours. One cup of bubble tea consists approximately ½ cup of cooked tapioca pearls ¼ cup sugar and 1/8 cup sweetened condensed milk which adds up to almost 500 calories. This amount is beyond the recommended limit of 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day as suggested in the American Heart Association. It is also 68% of the recommended sugar intake by World Health Organisation (WHO).
Nutritionist has labelled bubble tea as one of the worst drinks as it contains high sugar and trans-fat.
The trans-fat in milk tea has multiple health effects, namely:
In August 2012, German researches from the University Hospital Aachen reportedly found traces of carcinogenic chemicals such as styrene, acetophane and brominated substances in tapioca ball samples from an unnamed bubble tea chain located in northwestern Germany. However, a month later in September, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration confirmed that, in an second round of tests conducted by German authorities, Taiwanese bubble tea was found to be free from cancer-causing chemicals. The products were also found to contain no excessive levels of heavy metal contaminants.
In May 2019, around 100 undigested tapioca pearls were found in the abdomen of a 14-year-old girl in Zhejiang province, China after she complained of constipation.
Bubble tea is definitely harmful when consumed in excess. However, you can still treat yourself with this sweet, chewy and thirst-quenching drink occasionally.
Source: Public Health Malaysia (Facebook)
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