Is Matcha Bubble Tea Healthy?

Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, has become wildly popular in recent years. This sweet and creamy iced tea is loaded with chewy tapioca pearls, giving it a fun texture and delicious flavor. While traditional bubble tea is made with black tea, green tea versions made with matcha have also become common on bubble tea shop menus. But is matcha bubble tea actually healthy?

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a type of green tea made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What makes matcha different from regular green tea is how it is processed. The tea leaves used for matcha are specially grown in the shade for several weeks before harvest. This increases the chlorophyll content and amino acid L-Theanine, giving the leaves a rich green color and distinct flavor. After harvest, the leaves are steamed, dried, and ground into a fine powder.

The powdered form allows you to consume the entire leaf, providing more nutrients than steeped green tea. Matcha is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals. Studies suggest matcha can boost metabolism, enhance mood, increase focus and energy, and support heart health.

Nutritional Profile of Matcha Bubble Tea

An 8-ounce cup of plain matcha green tea contains approximately:

  • 25-35 calories
  • 7 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of protein
  • Vitamin C: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 2% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 3% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 2% of the RDI
  • Antioxidants including EGCG and L-theanine

However, when matcha is made into bubble tea, other ingredients like milk, creamer, sweeteners, and toppings are added that can increase the calorie and sugar content.

Calories in Matcha Bubble Tea

A 16-ounce matcha bubble tea with tapioca pearls and classic syrup sweetener can contain around 300-450 calories. Bubble teas made with whole milk, creamer, or ice cream can contain even more. For comparison, a 16-ounce Coke has about 200 calories.

Sugar Content

The classic bubble tea recipe calls for a simple syrup, made from mixing a cup of white sugar with a cup of hot water. Many commercial bubble tea shops use simple syrup or other sugary syrups and sweeteners like honey or agave. A 16-ounce matcha bubble tea can contain 60-80 grams of sugar, accounting for most of the calories.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. Just one bubble tea can exceed this entire daily allowance.

Fiber and Protein

Tapioca pearls are made from cassava root. A serving of around 1/4 cup of dried pearls contains 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. While this adds a small amount of beneficial fiber and plant-based protein, the pearls are largely pure starch and do not provide substantial nutritional value.

Vitamins and Minerals

Plain matcha is rich in certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, adding milk and sugar can mean you lose out on some of matcha’s original nutritional benefits. Still, matcha bubble tea likely provides more micronutrients than other sugar-sweetened beverages.

Potential Health Benefits

Drinking matcha bubble tea can provide certain health benefits, primarily from the matcha itself. However, these are generally outweighed by the high calorie and sugar content.


Matcha contains antioxidant compounds like EGCG and L-theanine. Antioxidants help protect against cell damage from free radicals, which are linked to chronic diseases.

Energy and Focus

The amino acid L-theanine in matcha produces temporary feelings of alertness and focus without the jittery effects of caffeine. Matcha does contain some caffeine as well.


Some research suggests EGCG may help boost metabolism and aid in weight loss. However, drinking matcha bubble tea regularly is unlikely to have a significant impact on metabolism or weight if you consume excessive calories and sugar.

Heart Health

Green tea has been associated with improvements in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which supports heart health. Matcha may also lower triglycerides. However, adding milk to matcha may negate these benefits on blood lipids.

Potential Downsides

While matcha bubble tea may have some health advantages over other sweet beverages, there are also some potential downsides.

High in Sugar

The biggest health concern is the high sugar content, ranging from 60-100% of the daily value. Consuming this much added sugar regularly can increase risk of obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and heart disease.

High in Calories

With 300 or more calories in a typical 16-ounce serving, it’s easy to underestimate how many calories you’re drinking. This can make it challenging to maintain healthy weight.

Tooth Erosion

Frequent exposure to sugar can erode tooth enamel over time and lead to dental cavities. The tapioca pearls may also stick to teeth, further promoting tooth decay.

Caffeine Sensitivity

Matcha naturally contains caffeine. Those with caffeine sensitivity may experience jitteriness or anxiety after drinking matcha bubble tea, especially in the evening.

Milk Allergies

Many bubble tea recipes include dairy ingredients like milk, cream, or ice cream. This means those with milk allergies need to avoid most matcha bubble teas.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Some people report digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea after drinking bubble tea, likely due to the starch from the tapioca pearls.

No Protein or Fiber

While tapioca pearls provide small amounts of fiber and protein, a typical matcha bubble tea is largely devoid of these filling nutrients. This can lead to energy crashes and hunger soon after drinking it.

Artificial Additives

Some bubble tea shops use artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, which may have negative health effects when consumed in large amounts.

How to Make Your Matcha Bubble Tea Healthier

If you enjoy drinking matcha bubble tea, there are ways to make it healthier by minimizing calories and added sugar:

  • Choose a small or regular size instead of large or jumbo
  • Request 25% to 50% less sweetener
  • Skip the creamy additions like milk, creamer, or ice cream
  • Choose fresh fruit as a natural sweetener instead of syrup
  • Add extra tapioca pearls for fiber and texture
  • Ask for less ice or no ice to get more nutrients per sip
  • Supplement with boba alternatives like fruit jelly, grass jelly, aloe vera chunks
  • Select brown sugar, honey, agave, or monk fruit as healthier natural sweeteners
  • Opt for non-dairy milks like oat milk, coconut milk, or soy milk
  • Try freshly brewed matcha when available instead of powder
  • Avoid toppings like sprinkles, chocolate chips, and gummy candies

Is Matcha Bubble Tea Healthy: The Verdict

Matcha bubble tea contains some beneficial antioxidants and nutrients from the matcha powder. But the high calorie, sugar, and additive content outweigh the potential health benefits for most people. Drinking matcha bubble tea occasionally as a treat is unlikely to have negative effects. However, having it regularly or in large sizes may contribute to problems like obesity, diabetes, dental decay, and heart disease for those who are susceptible.

To make matcha bubble tea healthier, customize your order by minimizing the amount of added cream and sugar. But in general, plain matcha tea or unsweetened iced matcha are healthier options than the bubble tea variety.

The Bottom Line

Matcha bubble tea has become trendy, but it is often loaded with added sugar and high in calories. While it provides some antioxidants and nutrients from the matcha, the negatives outweigh the positives when consumed regularly. Enjoy matcha bubble tea in moderation as an occasional treat if you are healthy, or opt for a smaller size with less sugar. Drinking plain matcha green tea is always the healthiest choice.

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