You don’t have to quit bubble tea cold turkey. You just have to make healthier choices.
Unlike many fast-fading food trends, bubble tea has held its ground in Singapore for years and its popularity doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. The instant availability of bubble tea shops (at almost every corner), coupled with the crazy heat we’ve been getting, may tempt you to jump in line for a thirst quencher, sometimes every day. Sure, the base of every bubble tea drink is usually brewed tea that’s loaded with antioxidants. But bear in mind the additional flavoured syrups, starchy pearls and non-dairy creamers that leave you sipping on a calorie bomb. All that excessive sugar puts you at higher risk of diabetes and heart disease too.
On a positive note, bubble tea brands are rolling out healthier, less guilt-inducing choices. On LiHo’s menu, there are options certified with the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Choice Symbol, which translates to sugar content of 6g or less for every 100ml for non-carbonated beverages. Also, Heytea now offers the option of substituting refined sugar in their drinks with Stevia, a natural sweetener, which is said to provide the same taste but with lower calorie and sugar content.
For all you addicts who find it hard to dial down the frequency of your bubble tea runs, here’s what you can do to satisfy your bubble tea cravings the healthier way.
Go for zero per cent sugar
If cutting out sugar feels completely impossible from the get-go, do it progressively. Start by asking for a lower level of sugar in your bubble tea. You’ll be surprised (and slightly mortified) at how sweet it tastes even at a sugar level of 20 per cent.
Try fruit teas
Look for the ones that mix tea with fresh fruit juices (not fruit syrup) and actual slices of fruit. You’ll hardly taste any bitterness of the tea thanks to the sweetness and tartness from fruits like grapefruit, oranges, watermelon and mango. Order them without milk, which typically adds 100 calories or more.
Skip the pearls
The chewy tapioca pearls are essentially carbohydrates with no nutritional value – empty calories. While it’s pretty much the star of the show, these starchy spheres made of cassava starch, sweet potato and brown sugar contributes an additional 100 calories per serving (about a quarter cup), according to the Health Promotion Board. Instead, opt for healthier toppings like aloe vera chunks for a refreshing chew between slurps.