How to Order Boba Tea Consciously

boba tea
Photo by Rosalind Chang on Unsplash

Isn’t tea magnificent? It’s a drink shared around the world throughout many cultures and always manages to hit the spot no matter what time of year or what mood you are in. Moving into the summer, I can’t help but give in to the urge of my favorite tea craving for this season, boba tea.

Boba tea originated in Taiwan and has been reinvented all over the world with various teas, flavors, milks,  jellies, and served either hot or cold. You can choose to your liking which makes it a wonderful treat for various palates.

A true drink to the masses, one thing to be cautious when drinking your favorite cup of deliciousness is the amount of sugar in each drink. I get it, some people are here for a good time and not a long time. However, the modifications below are especially important for those with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, gout etc who are trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy a treat every now and again. Also, if you are trying to adopt a vegan lifestyle, there are some nuances that you wouldn’t expect until you dig further in the recipe.

The good news is, depending on how it is made, you are able to dictate what goes in it. There are many ways to enjoy this treat, minus a copious amount of sugar, without compromising your preferred flavor in the slightest. To clarify, there is no true “healthy option” when it comes to boba tea but there are ways to make it “healthier” than how it is originally made when ordering straight off the menu. Let’s get started on where modification can be made to treat yoself in the best way possible!  

Tea Base

First things first is the tea base. You can request your favorite base tea which is often black, green or oolong teas. Many shops have a bigger selection of teas, so choose what draws to you!


Next up is your flavor choice! Please say no to any additional sugars here. Simply ask the wonderful barista to make your milk tea without any additional sugar. Depending on which flavor you choose, the flavor is often added in the form of a syrup and will add sugar to the drink regardless. This is okay as it is expected. Your drink will still have some sugar in it but no additional in the mix if requested in advance. In my opinion, the sugar from the syrup is plenty. Please note, flavors can also be in powder form so it is important to ask which flavors are syrup based as the powder form are not always vegan-friendly. Extra health tip: if you don’t want to worry about any kind of syrup or powder in your drink and if the tea shop has various teas to brew, here is my trick around this dilemma. You could ask them to brew a cup of rose chai tea, add your favorite milk, and add boba to it. So many ways to accommodate and this often my preferred method and still hits the spot!   


Requesting what type of milk is also another ingredient to the recipe. I often recommend almond or hemp as these milks often have the least amount of sugar. These two choices also are the best to try if you are new to plant-based milk. Please note, there are many boba tea shops that do not serve traditional milk tea. Since we live in a world of convenience, many shops use powder creamer instead of making milk tea with well, milk. Vegans beware here as these powder milks are often made with casein or whey protein so it’s best to officially ask for what tea base you want and your preferred alternative milk if they have on hand.

Boba and Jellies

The addition of boba and jellies is the icing on the cake for this decadent dessert! Boba is made out of tapioca which is a starch that is pulled from the root vegetable, cassava. Long story short, boba is a starch and is digested as a sugar in the body. There is no nutritional value to these tapioca balls and often add sugar to the drink as they are soaked in sugar for added sweetness and helps with preservation. An alternative to try is going with aloe vera jellies instead of boba. If you are the person that just likes the surprise in your drink with every sip, you will find aloe vera jellies replicate it well and can cut down on the additional sugar.

A plethora of modifications to make!  Whether you make one or all, I hope you treat yourself in the best way you know how for your health. If anyone needs me, I’ll be sippin on my lavender, black tea base, aloe vera jelly tea as I bask in the summer sun. Cheers!

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