Bubble tea has taken the world by storm! It’s one of the most popular drinks in cafes and shops all over the US. It’s actually a Taiwanese bubble tea that has gained recognition in recent years.
The tea-based bubble drink with tapioca balls, also known as “boba” or “pearls” at the base, came from Taiwan in the ‘80s. It’s become extremely popular because it’s so delicious and addictive!
However, veganism has also gained a lot of popularity recently, so vegans ask: is boba vegan? The short answer is: perhaps! It depends on how you order it. Let’s take a look at the long answer.
What’s Bubble Tea?
Bubble tea, also known as bubble milk tea, pearl milk tea, or tapioca milk tea, consists of either milk or fruit teas with tapioca pearls and other toppings at the bottom.
It’s a Taiwanese beverage that you can consume hot and cold and sweetened or unsweetened.
Bubble tea comes in many different varieties. However, they all share 3 ingredients including tea that’s typically black but can also be white, red, and green, milk that’s sweetened condensed cow’s milk, and boba pearls.
You will get your boba tea with heat-sealed cellophane lids and wide plastic straws to suck up the boba pearls and the sweet, sometimes milky tea.
The individual tapioca pearls in your bubble tea have a name – boba! In fact, that’s where the “bubble tea” term originated from.
Boba consists of starch derived from the cassava plant. It’s typically soaked in a syrup mixture for sweetness, but here’s the real kicker.
You can also get popping boba. They’re boba balls with a thin skin that when burst release a delish fruit-flavored juice. Furthermore, you can either choose between fruity or milky bubble tea. Or mix the two together! However, can vegans consume boba? Is boba vegan-friendly?
Can Vegans Drink Boba?
Well, maybe! The slushy or fruity options can be consumed by vegans because they’re often made with a fruit-based syrup.
The milky options, on the other hand, as you would suppose, aren’t vegan. At times, a vegan creamer is offered. However, you should ask for it, just in case.
I’ve recently discovered how cow’s milk is actually produced. And I’m 100% sure I’m never going back to dairy products again!
If a bubble tea place doesn’t offer a vegan creamer, write the owner a short email explaining why you would like a vegan option or just visit another store.
Moreover, specify that you would like your bubble tea without honey as well because most vegans don’t consume honey.
In summary, boba can be vegan if you step into a bubble tea spot where they provide a vegan creamer and specify how you would like your drink!
Is Boba Vegan?
It depends! If you order a milky bubble tea, you will probably get a drink made with dairy milk, so it’s not vegan-friendly. However, bubble tea can be made with fruit teas as well. Therefore, if you prefer a vegan drink, opt for one of the fruity or slushy options.
I also suggest asking employees if they have vegan-friendly options so you can be sure you’re getting the right thing.
As for the boba pearls, don’t worry because they’re usually plant-based. The same goes for popping pearls. They’re made of sugar, water, fruit juice, and Alginic acid.
They have a gelatinous appearance. However, they’re vegan!
Other possible vegan toppings include fruit jellies, coconut gel, sweet bean paste, and so on. As you can see, vegan boba options exist, so make sure to ask for vegan boba when ordering your beverage.
When Is Boba Not Vegan?
Most varieties of boba balls are vegan. However, some have non-vegan ingredients such as caramel and honey. So, check with your server when ordering to ensure that your drink isn’t made with animal-based ingredients.
Moreover, the most common boba varieties include dairy milk, so you should ask for dairy-free milk if possible. Some tea stores also add egg pudding as a topping, so watch out for that, too!
Lastly, since boba pearls consist of tapioca starch that’s derived from the cassava root, I want to mention that cassava farming can have severe environmental impacts like soil degradation and habitat destruction, if it’s not properly handled.
Cassava farming doesn’t have a direct link to your drink. However, it’s still good to know about the possible consequences of irresponsible cassava farming, if you’re someone who cares about animals, their habitat, and this planet, in general.
Does Boba Have Gelatin?
Luckily, boba doesn’t have gelatin! The delicious boba pearls consist of tapioca starch that’s derived from the cassava root. So, vegans can freely consume boba knowing it’s a vegan-friendly topping!
How Do You Ask For Vegan Boba?
First of all, ask for a vegan topping such as agar jelly or tapioca balls. Or ask if their grass jelly or fruit jelly contains any non-vegan ingredients.
Furthermore, ask for fruit bubble teas as they don’t have any cream or milk. And if you opt for a milky or cream-based beverage, ask for vegan milk or cream.
Finally, stay away from sugar unless you’re certain it’s not white sugar. Unfortunately, white sugar isn’t vegan.
Grab A Vegan Boba And Enjoy Your Day!
Overall, boba can be vegan if you order it as such.
Just specify that you want a vegan beverage with non-dairy milk or cream. Or opt for fruity bubble tea. As long as you state your preferences and avoid obvious extras such as custard which isn’t vegan, you should be fine!
Also, make sure their boba pearls don’t have caramel or honey. And avoid white sugar at any cost! As harmless as it may seem, it’s actually not vegan-friendly. It’s not good for your health either, so keep that in mind.
What’s your favorite bubble tea? How do you ask for vegan boba? Have you ever tried making vegan boba drinks at home?
Drop a comment below, and let’s chat about refreshing vegan-friendly drinks!