Tea is one of the most common beverages that you can find all over the world. So naturally, people from different regions have come up with many variations of the classic formula. Two of the more popular varieties are milk tea and bubble tea. But what exactly is the difference between the two? And which one is better for you overall?
Milk tea is simply tea combined with milk, while bubble tea has small tapioca balls and ice included. Bubble tea also has milk, but the main draw here is the chewy, artificially sweetened balls made from tapioca or jelly.
Based on how you make it, bubble tea and milk tea can taste nothing alike. But they can also have more in common than you might think. They also offer varying nutritional value. And these are going to be the highlights of this article. Plus, we will look at fruit tea and see how it compares to the others.
Milk Tea vs. Bubble Tea: Differences
You can easily assume the concept of milk tea just from the name. It is a tea that has milk in it. It really is that simple. Tea was originally consumed without much additional flavoring. But adding milk to the process became very popular and is now one of the main types of tea globally.
Milk tea can incorporate other ingredients. But for the most part, the milk is the star of the show and is often the sole performer. So, at the core, milk tea is just regular black tea but with a handful of dairy flavor. If it has any other strong element, people normally do not call it a simple milk tea. They come up with different names for it.
On the other hand, bubble tea can describe a wide range of drinks in terms of flavor. The key component of bubble tea is tapioca. Tapioca is a starchy substance that is derived from the roots of cassava plants. They are made into balls that resemble a white pearl. Hence, why this drink is often referred to as bubble tea, pearl-white tea, tapioca tea, etc.
The tapioca is cooked in boiling water till they become soft and edible. Afterward, the balls bathe in syrup for an extended period, usually until you need to put them in the tea. On its own, tapioca is relatively flavorless. They only become sweet thanks to the syrup. The main role of these tapioca balls is to give the drink a chewy texture.
Tapioca tea originates in Taiwan but has gained tremendous popularity in the West. As a result, it has seen quite a several variations to the core concept. Some recipes incorporate chocolate syrup, some add tapioca to smoothies. Many of the most famous recipes actually integrate milk into the mix.
So, you can have a milk tea that also features these tapioca bubbles. Given tea’s widespread popularity and people’s tendency to mix and match, you will often find competing variations overlap.
Additionally, you can have bubble tea without tapioca. Instead, you can use grass jelly or pudding balls as a substitute. It is pretty much entirely up to your personal preference.
Milk Tea vs. Bubble Tea: Which Is Better?
Typically, milk does not have all the add-ons used in bubble tea. So, it has significantly less sugar in milk tea than in bubble tea. Also, milk itself is a nutritious product rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus. In addition, milk tea is also far easier and cheaper to make.
So, unless you are highly fond of the particular taste of bubble tea, its dairy-based cousin is often the superior choice.
Is Bubble Tea Bad for You?
None of the ingredients you commonly find in bubble tea are very detrimental to you. But they are neither beneficial. So, when you put them together, you get a drink that offers a whole lot of calories and very few other nutrients. 
The part that is actually good for you is the tea. But even tea can pose a threat to your wellbeing if you consume it too much. And the tea used in most bubble tea does not possess the same qualities as green tea or herbal tea.
The next biggest factor in a bubble tea is the bubbles. Tapioca is mostly starch, which is the form of carbohydrate every plant utilizes. Starch is known to provide calories and not much else. It does not provide fibers as whole grains can, nor does it contain minerals or vitamins needed by our body.
Now you factor in all the added components that are also predominantly sugar-based. Of course, you have regular sugar, but you also have the syrup used to soak the tapioca balls. All these elements can make for an extremely calorie-rich drink, with very little in terms of nutrients. A single ball can contain as much as 400 calories.
Moreover, bubble tea sold in stores or cafes may have additional ingredients that can also be a health problem. The artificial flavoring or color they use is not always the safest of products.
Having said all this, a single cup of bubble tea will hardly harm you. The drink is gluten and peanut-free. So, if you are a big fan of this form of tea, try to limit the amount you consume weekly. Or better yet, you can make it yourself and try to eliminate the harmful stuff as much as you can.
But, in all honesty, if you want to get the benefits of tea, several different ways can be significantly better.
How to Drink Bubble Tea Without a Straw?
You cannot drink bubble tea with regular straws. You need very wide straws to pick up the bubbles, which usually get stuck to the bottom.
Alternatively, you can use float glass. This is a glass specifically made for drinking bubble tea. It has an inner cup that holds the balls and ice in the middle for better convenience. Also, you can simply use a straw to scoop up the balls and eat them that way or use a teaspoon.
What Is the Difference Between Milk Tea and Fruit Tea?
Well, for starters, fruit tea is not tea. It is not made from the same tea plant as black tea and green tea (Camellia sinensis). Instead, fruit tea is an infusion of various fruits, often accompanied by multiple different herbs.
In addition, fruit tea is made only with dried fruits and water. You will never see people mixing fruit tea with milk, while milk tea is black tea combined with milk.
To sum up, how you drink tea is entirely up to you. Some methods have proven to be more beneficial than others. But as long as you consume moderately, you can keep drinking your favorite variety of tea without much worry.