Is Boba Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
When people talk about “boba,” they’re often referring to the beverage boba tea, also known as bubble tea. Boba tea originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and made its way to the United States in the 1990s. While there are countless variations of boba tea, the popular beverage typically consists of tea, milk, sweetener, and chewy tapioca pearls (“boba”). It’s usually served with ice and an extra-wide straw that the pearls can pass through. But is boba vegan? We’ve broken it down for you.
Is boba tea vegan?
Good news! The tapioca pearls nestled at the bottom of the cup are made from the cassava plant, and they’re almost always vegan.
But what about the rest of the drink? As mentioned above, boba tea is usually made with milk tea. This can be vegan as long as plant-based milk is used. Some boba shops offer plant-based milk teas, while others have started experimenting with adding boba to a wide variety of drinks, such as fruit teas, mochas, slushies, and juice. If you’re not sure which drink is vegan, just ask the shop if a beverage contains dairy.
Is jelly tea vegan?
Many boba shops also offer jelly tea. No, we’re not talking about the kind of jelly you spread on toast. Jelly found in tea is usually made with fruit or seaweed and other ingredients. Like boba, it has a firm, chewy consistency and sinks to the bottom of the cup. Unlike boba, jelly is usually square or rectangular and colorful.
While some jelly has only plant-based ingredients, it often contains gelatin, which is made from animal bones and ligaments—not plant-based. If you want to try jelly tea, you could ask the shop if they know about the ingredients in their jelly. When in doubt, simply stick to boba instead.
What about popping boba?
Unlike boba and jelly, “popping boba” isn’t chewy. The small colorful balls burst when bitten into. Popping boba is usually vegan, made with fruit juice inside a seaweed membrane.
Can you make boba at home?
You can make boba from scratch at home and add it to your milk tea recipe, or use a recipe that calls for store-bought tapioca pearls. Additionally, for a quick and easy treat to satisfy your boba tea craving, buy an instant boba kit that has everything you need precooked.
As long as you stick to boba in a plant-based beverage, you can enjoy boba tea vegan-style! Looking for more plant-based ways to quench your thirst? Check out some of our favorite vegan beverages.