Is Boba Vegan? [The Surprising Truth About Bubble Tea]

Do you love bubble tea, but aren't really sure if it has animal products or not? Confused as to whether those boba balls are vegan?

is boba vegan

I'm glad you're here! Today you'll learn...

  • Is Boba Usually Vegan/Vegetarian?
  • The essentials you need to make bubble tea at home.
  • Easy recipes you can follow (including how to make the balls themselves).
  • The most common questions about vegan bubble tea (along with their answers).

Lets start!

Is Boba (Bubble Tea) Vegan/Vegetarian?

Yes - most of the time! Many people think that bubble tea balls or boba contain gelatin.

However, most boba is actually made from tapioca, which is a starch that comes from the cassava root.

This is why they're also sometimes referred to as tapioca pearls.

If you're not making your own boba tea at home, you may have to beware of the other stuff going into your beverage. Common ingredients in cafe-bought boba drinks, such as certain tea powders, actually have dairy in them.

See the FAQ for more on the subject of specific ingredients.

Also, If you are making bubble tea at home, then stick around!

We'll show you how to make boba tea vegan (and awesome) below...

Clean Label Tapioca Pearls

Most boba balls have lots of stuff in them. You'll often find things like artificial colors and preservatives in typical boba ingredients.

While odds are that nothing will happen to you in small quantities, its nice to avoid eating too much fake food.

The good news is that there are plenty of boba balls with clean ingredient statements.

Granted, they won't have all of the fun colors, though and the texture/size may be slightly different.

   

As an added bonus, they're also pretty awesome for making vegan puddings!

You may also be able to find these in a standard grocery store.

If you want the real thing, traditional boba, is also an 100% vegan option.

Large Reuseable Bubble Tea Straws

Let's face it, plastic straws are convenient, but they generate a lot of needless waste.

We can't be perfect all the time, but if you have the opportunity to so do, its better not to throw away so many plastic straws.

 

 



 

  • Add 1/2 cup of boba tapioca pearls to around 5 cups of water.
  • Put in a pot and bring the water to a boil.
  • You can optionally add around 1/2 cup of sugar.
  • When the water boils, reduce it to a simmer and cover the pot.
  • Check back in around 10-15 minutes. The bobas will float to the top when they're done.
  • Some might stick to the bottom, but you can do a taste test to tell if they are plumped up enough.
  • Take the bobas out and rinse with cool water.
  • At this point, you can optionally soak the bobas in a juice or a sweetened syrup.
  • If you aren't going to use them right away, you will want to make sure that they are sitting in a sweetened syrup without too much water.
  • Use immediately or store in the fridge for a few days.
  • **If being stored in the fridge, you don't want to have them in too much water or they will change texture. Soaking them in a syrup will help preserve the texture longer.

 

picture of matcha powder with a matcha whisk

picture of a taro root vegetable

However, there doesn't seem to be any sort of standard of identity for taro tea powders. Many of the brands that exist aren't typically made in the US.

This means that ingredient statements can be somewhat unclear and hard to find.

Even if certain​ taro powders contained a non-dairy creamer, we still found hidden animal products on the label.

Check out this example from Bossen:

Ingredient: GLUCOSE, NON-DAIRY CREAMER (TAPIOCA SYRUP, HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL, SODIUM CASEINATE - MILK DERIVATIVE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO AND DYGLYCERIDE, SODIUM ALUMINIUM SILICATE.)

Ingredient statements like this one can be quite tricky to the naked eye as there is actually dairy in the non-dairy creamer!

Products made in Asia also sometimes don't state allergens on the ingredient statement.

This means that the dairy-based ingredients wouldn't show up there either.

If you do happen to spot a vegan-friendly taro powder, please do let us know so we can add it here.

But as of now, assume that taro bubble tea is not vegan.​

Is Lychee Powder for Bubble Tea Vegan?

Similar to taro powder many lychee powders contain milk derivatives such as sodium caseinate.

This means that lychee powders are not likely to be vegan.

picture of the lychee fruit

 

Does "Popping" Boba Have Gelatin?

It appears that most brands of popping boba do not contain gelatin, but we don't want to state this definitively. Popping boba seems to be regular bubble balls soaked in a sweet juice.

However, imported products from Asia can sometimes be a bit tricky as the standards of identity can vary.

      

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