Chances are that just five years ago, you probably never heard of bubble tea, or if you had, you had to venture deep into Chinatown to buy one. Now, you can find a restaurant offering bubble tea or an exclusive bubble tea store every few blocks in most cities in the U.S. — and some even in the suburbs, too. The brightly-colored, Instagram-worthy beverage makes an appearance at just about every fair and festival, as well.

Bubble tea is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean it’s a simple, harmless drink like many assume. Just because it has “tea” in the name, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.

The main ingredients in a bubble tea include sweet tea, milk, tapioca pearls, and alarmingly high levels of sugar and sugar flavoring. The pearls are what make this drink so popular. They’re loved for the way they travel up the bubble tea oversized straw, as well as for their chewy, candy-like consistency. Their Chinese name is boba, but unlike many Eastern teas, there are no health benefits here. The tapioca is boiled and then saturated with sugar, meaning that each tapioca pearl can add between 5 and 14 calories to your drink. A 1/4 cup of them can add more than 100 calories to your already high-calorie drink. Additionally, bobas don’t add anything in the way of nutrition — they’re basically all carbs and lack any vitamins or minerals.

An average bubble tea contains about 500 calories and nearly 50 grams of sugar — that’s 12.5 teaspoons of sugar! For that same amount of sugar you could eat 2 1/2 Snickers bars (50 grams), a large Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen (42 grams), or two pieces of New York style cheesecake (54 grams).

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Matcha Mondays ? My mondays ain't blue anymore with @hollin_sg 's bittersweet matcha pearls. Truely a godsend for matcha AND bubbletea lovers. Really, i was blown away by the intense earthy undertone of the matcha pearls ? Pair the matcha pearls with matcha latte at 25% sugar level which i felt was just right,especially after all the ice had melted. Another thing to note is that they give considerably less ice as compared to other bubble tea shops which is good news! (For me at least?) My only gripe is that the matcha pearls are only available every monday ? can they be available everyday please? ?? #burpple #burpplesg #whati8today #whatiatetoday #matcha #matchalatte #tapioca #boba #bubbletea #milktea #hollin #hollinpearls #sgfood #sgfoodie #sgfoodies #foodforfoodies #sgfoodblogger #foodblogger #foodadventure #foodlover #foodreview #sgfoodtrend #myfooddiary #sgfooddiary #sgeats #sgeatout #sgfoodhunt #sgmakandiary

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While an occasional bubble tea isn’t going to have severe effects on your health, it should absolutely not become a regular part of your diet. The next time you simply must order a bubble tea, try asking for unsweetened black or green tea, low-fat milk, less pearls, no sugar or eliminate the fruit-flavored syrup. To add a hint of fruity flavor, try asking for some mashed fresh fruit or real fruit purée instead. One or all of these requests can help save you from consuming a monstrous drink.

Also see, U.K. proposes ban on plastic straws, stirrers, cotton swabs.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.