Bubble tea’s bad rep: This hospital just released a calorie guide to your guilty pleasure

Photo: Rosalind Chang/Unsplash
Photo: Rosalind Chang/Unsplash

We, the people of Singapore, are obsessed with bubble tea. Cheese tea, fruit tea, brown sugar pearl milk… whatever your poison, it’s probably just around the corner. So saturated are we with new brands opening every couple months that it’s almost impossible to avoid temptation.

But if Channel NewsAsia‘s recent revelation of the hidden sugars in your favorite guilty pleasure didn’t deter you from gulping down three cups a week, perhaps this new warning will.

Last Friday, Mount Alvernia Hospital put up a follow-up guide to its “What’s in my bubble tea?” story earlier this month, divulging the calories and amount of sugar found in bubble teas and their toppings. The hospital apparently did so after being inundated by “overwhelming requests” from curious social media users.

Needless to say, people were horrified (again) and promptly started circulating the Facebook post.

It looks like regular milk foam and cheese foam drinkers have the most to be worried about, seeing as how those toppings beat out the rest with 203 and 180 calories respectively. Coming in third, tapioca pearls contain 156 calories, followed by Oreo at 116 and pudding jelly at 89. If you’re trying to be health(ier), you should probably aim for aloe vera instead, which has just 31 calories in a serving.

On the sweet side, brown sugar milk tea with pearls is an obvious winner, consisting of 18.5 teaspoons of sugar in a 500ml order with a 100 percent sugar level. In comparison, a can of regular cola contains just seven teaspoons.

You may think you’re sipping on good stuff, since green and black teas have been connected to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer, but when you throw non-dairy creamers and toppings into the mix, the fat and sugar content skyrockets. So really, the beverage should be considered among the likes of sodas, energy drinks, and 3-in-1 instant coffees and teas, the hospital’s dietitian said.

To ease people out of their despair, the hospital offered recommendations on how to make bubble tea less abhorrent to our bodies, suggesting that consumers try lower calorie toppings or (gasp) axe ’em altogether. Plain brews like green tea, oolong, or black tea are also preferred, or you if you really must indulge, you can do the smart thing by reducing your sugar level to 30 percent and below.

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