Like regular tea, boba tea contains caffeine, so you’ve probably wondered whether or not it’s safe to drink when you’re pregnant.
Boba tea is safe for pregnant women provided it is made with pasteurized milk and heated or cooked toppings/additives. However, depending on how much sugar is added, boba could be classed as a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) and due to this, you should exercise caution. You should also be mindful of the caffeine in boba/bubble tea, too.
How much of it can you have and what options are available for toppings, extras, milk, sweetness, and so on? Find out below!
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Is Bubble Tea Safe to Drink During Pregnancy?
Boba tea is generally safe for pregnant women as long as it is made with pasteurized milk and heated or cooked toppings.
Boba is also called bubble tea or pearl tea. In other countries, it is as popular as milk tea. It usually has added syrup, fruit, and chewy balls made from cooked tapioca.
Today, boba or bubble tea is popular in Europe and the United States. You can even make your own Boba. (source: Food Science & Nutrition).
The Caffeine in Boba Tea
Tea, no matter what type, contains caffeine but not as much as coffee which means you still have to be careful of your caffeine intake when drinking boba tea during pregnancy.
The caffeine in tea depends on brewing time, water used, amount of tea, loose tea, or tea bags (source: Oregon State University).
There are two types of Boba tea: fruit tea and milk tea. Fruit teas are the colorful ones. They usually have added fruit juices. Milk teas are the creamier type due to added powdered cream or milk. If choosing a fruit juice based bubble tea, make sure the juice is pasteurized.
Both types can be made with black or green tea, and fruit tea can also be made with water (source: Stony Brook University). Also available are teas mixed with fruit smoothies, slushies, and blended coffee. Since there are so many combinations, it’s good to ask what the ingredients are, so you can assess the amount of caffeine or other ingredients.
The following table shows the caffeine content of several popular teas per serving of 6 oz, steeped for 5 minutes:
|Brand||Classification||Caffeine in mg|
|Stash Darjeeling Black||Black||27|
|Twinings Lady Grey||Black||30|
|Twinings English Breakfast||Black||25|
|Tazo China Green Tips||Green||41|
|Stash Premium Green||Green||36|
|Stash Fusion Green and White||Green, White||28|
|Exotica China White||White||47|
Bear in mind that a small Boba tea with milk is usually around 16 oz. A large one is double this portion (source: The Journal of Analytical Toxicology) Other Boba tea makers also use Oolong tea or white tea. But the most common ones are black tea and green tea.
Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day (source: APA). Therefore, when ordering boba, check what type of tea has been used, and compare it to the chart above to get an idea of how much caffeine is in it.
Are the Taro or Tapioca Pearls in Boba Tea Safe for Pregnant Women?
Many would agree that the balls are what make Boba, Boba. These pearls or balls are cooked before being added to the bubble tea which makes them safe.
Boba teas with black balls, pearls, or bubbles are more popular than those with white ones.
The black pearls are produced from cassava starch, sweet potatoes, and brown sugar. White pearls, on the other hand, are created from cassava starch, chamomile root, and caramel instead of brown sugar (source: Food Science & Nutrition).
Both chamomile and cassava may have to be limited during pregnancy. For more on this, check out our articles on chamomile when pregnant, and cassava during pregnancy.
Apart from balls, bubble teas can also include coconut gel or Nata de coco, and egg pudding. Nata de coco is made from fermented coconut juice. Some producers wash the finished product to remove the acid build-up, while others heat them on top of washing.
Egg pudding, also called custard or flan, is made from eggs mixed with milk and sugar (and salt if you want). It is baked in the oven until a stick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the egg is fully cooked, then it’s safe for pregnant women.
The balls alone are rich in calories. Add other toppings like coconut gel and egg pudding and the calories in boba can quickly mount up. Since excess calorie intake isn’t recommended during pregnancy, it might be best to limit your intake of boba tea, not just for the caffeine, but for the sugar and calorie content, too.
The Milk and Creamer in Bubble Tea
The most commonly used milk in Boba is whole milk (source: Talk Boba). According to the Code of Federal Regulations, milk that has been packaged to be used for consumption has been pasteurized or ultra pasteurized (source: CFR).
This means the milk used in bubble tea is usually safe for pregnant women.
The most common milks or creamers used are:
- Powdered milk
- Condensed milk
- Non-dairy creamer (source: Foods).
The most popular among these is the non-dairy creamer (source: The Spruce Eats). Others also include almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk 2% milk, and skim milk, which are popular among those who don’t like a creamy Boba and those that are trying to cut their calories (source: Talk Boba).
The type of milk selected can be based upon personal preference. However, it would be best to ask what type of milk is available when you order to ensure you select a pasteurized option.
Is Boba Tea Good or Bad During Pregnancy?
According to a study, Boba tea checks all the marks of a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) as described by the USDA FoodData Central (source: Food Science & Nutrition).
This means it has a high sugar content. Too much sugar should be avoided during pregnancy. Apart from diabetes (including gestational diabetes) or possible obesity, SSBs might also increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, women who consumed more than two SSBs increased the risk by more than double compared to those who drank less than one in one week. Every 8 oz. of SSB was related to a risk of 16% early and onset colorectal cancer (source: Harvard School of Public Health).
How to Order Boba When Pregnant
Since there are so many boba options, here are some tips when ordering boba or bubble tea when you’re pregnant.
- If you can, cut the calories in boba tea during pregnancy by choosing your sweetness level at one of the lower percentages (e.g. 20%). All Boba tea sellers should offer this.
- Ask for a weakly brewed tea to reduce the caffeine content. Bear in mind green tea usually has less caffeine than black tea blends.
- Opt for a smaller serving size – meaning less caffeine, sugar and calories.
- Check that any milk or fruit juice used is pasteurized.
- Opt for pearls or balls made with ingredients other than cassava or chamomile, where possible. Limit your consumption of boba pearls as these are also high in sugar and calories.
- Cut back on getting additional toppings like coconut gel or egg pudding, as these can add additional sugar and calories, too.
- Try limiting yourself to indulging only once per week. If you have concerns, you can ask your doctor for recommendations on how often you should consume boba tea or other sweet treats.
With a plethora of ingredients available in the market today, bubble tea options are seemingly endless. You can select the type of milk, pearls, sweetness level, additives, or toppings.
While Boba tea is a safe, delicious, and a fun-to-drink beverage, it can contain a large amount of sugar and calories, so try to ask for types that are less sweet, or with fewer additions.
|This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.|