Is Boba Bad for Your Stomach?

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Though Taiwanese boba tea is a delicious treat, the question has been raised: Is boba bad for your stomach? In short, the answer is that bubble tea pearls are safe for you to consume and easily digested. However, tapioca is a starchy food, and eating enough of it can irritate your stomach, possibly causing constipation and stomach bloat.

Are Tapioca Pearls Difficult to Digest?

You should have no problem digesting tapioca pearls if you are healthy and don’t have any gastrointestinal issues. Tapioca pearls are made from tapioca starch, which comes from cassava root.

They are almost pure carbohydrates without much nutritional value, but they give bubble tea a unique texture and surprise element. A study done in 2009 compared cassava roots to other starches in Sri Lanka and found that the cassava root is one of the easier starches to digest.

Can Tapioca Pearls Build Up in Your Stomach?

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Close-up photo of black tapioca pearls

Technically, yes, tapioca pearls can build up in your stomach. If you don’t give your body time to break down the tapioca starch, it can congeal. However, for this to happen, you would need to eat an excessive amount in a short period and have a weak digestive system. So, how much boba is too much?

One bubble tea a week would be the safest bet, but some doctors say consuming one or two bubble teas a day is not likely to cause the pearls to build up in your stomach.

Three common side effects of consuming too many tapioca pearls include:

  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain

While uncommon, over-consuming tapioca pearls can be an issue for some people, like the 14-year-old-girl from China who went to the hospital, where doctors found over 100 tapioca balls in her stomach.

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In the case of the girl whose CT scan showed 100 tapioca balls in her stomach, she claimed to have only drunk one bubble tea five days before. Yet doctors say that she would have had to drink a lot more than that for the bubbles to show up.

Do You Need to Chew Boba When Drinking Bubble Tea?

Because the starchy ingredients of tapioca balls are more difficult to dissolve when they are expanded, chewing them is highly recommended.

Half of the fun of enjoying boba tea is the chewy tapioca pearls. If you swallow them whole, you make it more difficult for your body to digest them and miss out on the sweet and textural surprise they add.

Does Boba Tea Cause Stomach Pain?

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Brown sugar milk tea

Bubble tea contains lots of sugar. Whether it’s made from green tea, black tea, or fruit tea, the additives and syrups are almost always sugar-based which can cause stomach pain if consumed in excess.

As with most things, drinking bubble tea in moderation shouldn’t cause any issues with your stomach. However, if you notice that you don’t feel well after drinking it, you may avoid it in the future. The sugar and dairy may not settle well for you, but that’s up to your discretion.

Why Do I Feel Bloated After Drinking Boba Tea?

Because of all the sweeteners and sugar that boba milk tea contains, the result can be less than agreeable for your stomach. Not to mention that most bubble tea contains milk (unless you choose to use non-dairy milk), and dairy can also irritate your stomach.

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Yet, there is also the possibility that the bloating comes from the starch in the tapioca balls. Besides the fact that these sugary drinks may irritate your stomach, consuming too much starch has been known to cause bloat. Luckily, you can always order your cup of bubble tea without tapioca pearls.

Margaret Dunn

After recently discovering bubble tea, Margaret is addicted. Thai iced tea with coffee jelly and lychee fruit tea with popping boba are her favorite combinations so far. She is currently working on a few homemade healthy versions of her favorite flavors that will satisfy her sweet tooth all the same.

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