S’pore’s Mt. Alvernia Hospital advises 1 cup of brown sugar bubble tea is too much sugar

Drink more water, it's good for you.

Guan Zhen Tan | July 16, 2019 @ 03:09 pm


Bubble tea has become the staple midday pick-me-up or after-dinner dessert for the masses in Singapore.

But you know it is not good for you when even a hospital in Singapore has written an article about it.

Mount Alvernia on bubble tea

Mount Alvernia Hospital published a piece on July 5 to scare bubble tea lovers with a statistic.

A medium-sized 500ml milk tea with pearls at 100 percent sugar level has eight teaspoons of sugar, amounting to 335 calories.

Two bubble tea cups are one-third of your daily calorie intake

For those with a sweet tooth and bigger stomach, take note: One large-sized milk tea with pearls at 700ml and at 100 percent sugar level has 11 teaspoons of sugar, amounting to 469 calories, the hospital’s article noted.

A study previously commissioned by CNA also found that the amount of sugar in the popular brown sugar bubble milk tea drink skyrockets to a whopping 18.5 teaspoons.

However, the regular bubble milk tea with pearls at 100 percent sugar that was tested was still found to have 20.5 teaspoons of sugar.

This may mean that even “normal” milk tea choices may not necessarily be healthier.

Pearls are full of calories

The real fat-maker is ultimately the pearls in bubble tea.

Innocuous as they look given that they are not saccharine sweet on its own per se, pearls actually make up one-third of the calories found in the drinks.

Bubble tea fills you with calories

Two cups of bubble tea are enough to make up one-third of your recommended daily calorie intake, which is about 1,800 to 2,000 calories, according to Health Xchange.

The recommended daily intake by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) is eight to 11 teaspoons of sugar per day for adults and less than five teaspoons for kids and teenagers.

Some bubble tea drinks also have non-diary creamers, which contains sugars, and trans-fat in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which will clog your arteries.


Calories in toppings

Toppings such as tapioca pearls are kept in sweetened syrup, adding to the drink’s sugar content, and to the calorie count as well.

Cheese foam and milk foam are toppings with the highest amount of calories, as cheese foam could range from 160 to 200 calories, while milk foam amounts to around 203 calories.

Following closely behind is tapioca pearls at 156 calories, and Oreo cookies at 116 calories.

Lower calorie options include Ai Yu jelly or red bean at 45 calories, and aloe vera at 31 calories.

How to make your bubble tea healthier

Of course, not all is lost even if you’re a bubble tea addict, as Mount Alvernia also mentioned tips in making your bubble tea habits a little healthier.

This includes limiting yourself to one to two bubble teas a week, and choosing a smaller cup, with less sugar from 30 percent and below.

If immediately dropping from 100 percent sugar to zero sugar sounds terrible, you can try ordering drinks with less sugar each time, gradually weaning off your craving for sweeter drinks as you reach zero percent sugar.

When picking a drink, pick plain teas without milk or creamer such as green tea, oolong and black tea.

You can also order lower-calorie toppings or have no toppings with your drink.

Also bear in mind the converse: Drinking water only for the rest of your life doesn’t mean you can achieve immortality.

So, let loose and drink the bubble tea knowing we all die eventually.

It’s only a matter of when and how.

Top image via sam651030 on Pixabay

About Guan Zhen Tan

Guan Zhen misses a time when the McDonald's at White Sands had two floors. If not listening to visual kei bands and doodling, she's probably thinking about how Ra is rowing his sun boat into the darkness of the night.

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