Is Boba Vegan?
Have you ever sipped on a refreshing cup of bubble tea and wondered what the health repercussions are? Often ordered together, toppings are a nice treat to the usual consumer who orders their milk or fruit tea based beverage. Various toppings can include boba pearls, popping boba, lychee jelly, grass jelly, and many other fun options.
Boba pearls, deemed the most popular and widely ordered all around the world, can raise a few questions whether what’s inside of those little pearls or whether they're appropriate for individuals who are vegan. To start off, boba pearls are rooted from starch of the cassava plant and contain tapioca which is all vegan. Boba pearls are then mixed with simple syrup to add its signature sweetness to your tea.
Other popular toppings often discussed are grass jelly and popping boba. Popularly eaten in East and Southeast Asia, grass jelly comes from the Chinese mesona plant (Platostoma palustre) and contains no fat, minerals, or vitamins. This may seem like a very nutritious topping, but you may wonder if it includes any benefits to your diet.
Believe it or not, grass jelly contains antioxidants and includes antibacterial properties, which can be very beneficial to one’s digestion. The rich fiber content contained in grass jelly can help regulate and ease stomach pain. Grass jelly which has a jelly-type texture can often be confused with the similar taste of gelatin, which derives from the bone, skin, & ligaments of dead animals. Rest assured, grass jelly does not include any gelatin and is also fully vegan.
Popping boba, which instantly became a hit in the early 2000’s when the frozen yogurt craze was at its peak. These small balls of ‘boba’ are actually somewhat different from the usual tapioca boba many are familiar with. This fun and delicious topping is made from seaweed extract. It creates a thin layer of gelatinous coating and different chewing experience. Popping boba, which is often filled with fruit juice and bursts into your mouth when bitten has given fans of boba tea a fruitful experience throughout the years of its existence. Main ingredients used are water, sugar, and fruit juices in a variety of flavors including; mango, strawberry, passion fruit, green apple, & more.
Coconut jelly, which is also a very popular topping within the milk tea industry, has set the standard for many various shapes and variations of this dessert. They are white & translucent, and often very chewy in texture with a sleek and sweet milky taste. Similar to grass jelly, coconut jelly also carries a lot of health benefits when eaten. Coconut jelly carries antioxidants and fiber which is very nutritional and useful to aid in digestion along with normalizing blood glucose levels and relieving constipation.
Other health benefits that coconut jelly contains include a significant amount of protein needed for building muscle. Coconut pulp also when matured is very beneficial as it lowers high cholesterol and protects the heart from cardiovascular diseases. It’s a great snack whether you’re drinking it from your tea or enjoying it as a light snack, it can significantly help with weight loss, regulate high blood sugar, and reduce inflammation.
Here at Fanale Drinks, we currently carry shapes of Hearts, Stars, and even Dolphins in the classic coconut jelly style. Flavors include Blueberry, Green Apple, Mango, Strawberry, & Passionfruit. Whether you’d like to spice up your drink with Mango or Blueberry flavoring, you can enjoy it all with coconut jelly.
Other questions may arise when drinking your milk or fruit tea if it’s vegan as well. The simple answer to that is it solely depends on how the boba drink is made. Traditional milk tea is often prepared with cow’s milk which is not vegan, however many boba shops nowadays do carry non-dairy alternatives like almond milk or soy milk to make your favorite drink. For fruit teas, most are consistently vegan as they don’t use any products harmful to animals. Most fruit based teas mainly contain flavored tea and syrup to achieve its flavorful taste.
However, boba pearls can vary depending on whether they are vegan or not. This is solely based on how the boba pearls are prepared from the establishment/shop. Typically boba pearls are prepared using simple syrup, but often it is mixed with honey to give its sweetness that many recognize. Honey, however, is not vegan so next time when ordering your boba drink, you may ask your store to see if it’s served with honey.
There are a lot of different factors and variations when it comes to having vegan options when consuming boba milk tea. One of the most important being that if the drink contains milk or a non-dairy alternatives like almond milk or soy milk. Lastly, the pearls themselves can be prepared differently. If honey was used, it’s best to see if there are any vegan options. Although, if you’re ordering a fruit tea with lychee jelly, all rest assured your drink is vegan!
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- Rebecca Chao