Sorry to burst your boba

The Key Club sold boba from the Loma Linda Boba Tea House during lunch for Redlands East Valley”s multicultural food day on April 18. Boba is a popular treat on campus that tends to draw long lines of students. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic photo)


You may be wondering what boba is, and why it’s good . . . or bad for you.

Boba are small, black, chewy balls of boiled tapioca. Tapioca is a white starch that is extracted from the roots of cassava plants, which is native to South America and was brought over to Taiwan by the Portuguese. Boba is not the drink itself; it is usually in a sweet iced tea or a smoothie, including flavors like honeydew, strawberry and other types of fruit. Boba is added to the drink as a separate ingredient.

Boba can come in many flavors and vary in color depending on the flavors they are made with. It also has many names, including bubble tea, pearl shake, black pearl tea, pearl milk tea, tapioca ball drink, pearl ice tea, QQ (meaning chewy in Taiwanese) and boba tea.

In terms of color, when boba is made with no flavors or dyes, it is naturally clear with no flavor. After it is put into drinks, the clear boba will absorb the flavoring of the drink accompanying it.

The most common boba is the black pearl, which is created by cooking or adding brown sugar or caramel coloring to the tapioca mixture. Boba can also come in a large variety of fruity flavors, including strawberry, mango, watermelon, lemon and passion fruit. Fruity flavored boba can also come in a popping form called popping boba. These boba balls resemble gushers fruit snacks, just with a thinner layer of protection. These boba balls are unique because, as much as they may resemble tapioca pearls, they are not actually made with tapioca but with a mix of flavored fruit juices, calcium chloride and sodium alginate.

As good as this drink may be, it can be unhealthy. The drink is usually served with one fourth a cup of boba balls, which contains 136 calories and 33 grams or carbohydrates, not including the actual drink, which can contain lots of sugars according to Jill Corleone’s article. In addition, boba tea carbohydrates are simple sugars, so they are broken down more quickly; however, this treat still has no nutritional value, so you may want to think twice before indulging yourself with this drink.  

This is also a very difficult treat to perfect. When mixing the tapioca balls they need to hold the right consistency to form them into balls and boil them. They cannot be too runny or too dry. In the past, people have tried multiple times to make their own tapioca balls to save themselves a few trips to the tea shop, but they sadly never came out no matter how much water or tapioca they mixed. They later found an alternative by buying their own dried tapioca balls on Amazon. These bags can contain about five boba drinks.

Although there are many tea shops and restaurants where you can purchase this popular drink in America, boba actually originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s. Boba tea soon started appearing at every street corner in Taiwan. It is difficult to determine who first invented this trendy drink, for many companies have claimed to be the creators, but reportedly in the 1980’s, Liu Han-Chien introduced tapioca pearls in cold infused drinks.   

There are multiple places in Southern California where you can buy boba, including Class 302, where you can make your own boba drink, and more than 10 other tea bars in Los Angeles, including Lollicup, Ten Ren, Quickly, Boba Tea House and Tapioca Express. Some more local places where you can indulge yourself with this drink is at Wok In Cafe on State Street and Chaca Tea Bar next to Albertsons on Redlands Boulevard.

Click the link to read a review on Chaca Tea Bar

Categories A&E

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s