Bubble tea, the Taiwanese beverage, is taking the world by storm as the menu grows along with its popularity. But if you’re vegan, is this drink right for you
Depending on what kind of drink you order, it may or may not be. The classic milk teas can be made with cow milk which effectively makes it not-vegan friendly. But most boba shops carry plant-based or nut milk alternatives such as almond, oat, or soy. You can always ask for these substitutes when you’re ordering a milk tea or even do it yourself if you want to make bubble tea at home! Making bubble tea by yourself allows you to make sure you’re using vegan-friendly ingredients in your drink. Fruit teas are also popular and a staple in bubble tea menus. These are definitely vegan-friendly and super refreshing!
If you’re wondering about the tapioca, don’t worry! Boba is made from tapioca starch which is extracted from cassava root. This topping is gelatin-free! Popping boba is also gelatin-free, despite its texture, because it is made from agar agar which comes from seaweed extract. Another topping of concern is jelly but this is also just made from sugar and other plant-based ingredients. Finally, vegans may want to avoid the custard topping as it may contain eggs.
Because of bubble tea's wide variety of recipes and ingredients, there are a few things that vegans should look out for if ordering from a shop such as honey, white sugar (if this is of concern), and any artificial sweeteners. The safest way to consume a vegan-friendly bubble tea is if you make it at home so you’re well aware of all the ingredients that get put into your drink.