If you like, or absolutely adore, boba in your specialty drinks, you might be wondering if you can get it at one of America’s most popular fast-food restaurants, Dunkin’. The good news is that Dunkin serves boba as a topping you can order with several of their menu drinks. As of this writing, all Dunkin’ locations in the United States have boba on the menu.
Now that you know that Dunkin’ does indeed serve boba as a topping at all their restaurants, there’s a good chance you have more questions about this popular, delicious, and fun drink additive. What is boba made of, for example, and is boba healthy to drink? If those questions and more are burning a hole in your brain, read on. We have all the boba information you need to make your next Dunkin’ run a delicious adventure!
What Is Boba Made From?
The interesting thing about boba is that it’s made with tapioca (aka cassava root) flour. While wheat and other flours contain starch, fiber, and protein, tapioca flour only contains starch. Because of this, the boba doesn’t change or deteriorate when mixed with a liquid like coffee, water, juice, etc.
Even more interesting is that if you take boba out of the liquid it’s sitting in, it will eventually dry and be just tapioca flour balls once again. Boba is never made using gelatin because it’s unnecessary, and it’s vegan since it has no animal ingredients.
Is Boba Healthy Enough to Drink Regularly?
First, you should note that plain boba, which is unflavored, has very few health benefits but isn’t considered unhealthy if eaten in moderation. The health issues most people have with boba come from the drinks where it’s used as an additive, which are usually very high in sugar. Eating too much sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes, so drinking a lot of bubble tea and other sugary drinks with boba aren’t recommended. That said, if you add boba to, for example, green tea, the boba isn’t bad for your health, and green tea has health benefits. In other words, boba is fine to consume regularly as long as you pair it with a healthy drink.
Who Created Boba and Where?
It’s not easy to determine precisely when the first bubble tea with boba was created, but it was sometime during the 1980s. As to where boba was created, that’s easier to say; it was in Taiwan. That’s where the story of boba gets murky again. Some say the first use of boba pearls was in a town named Taichung City and was served by a tea shop owner named Liu Han Chieh. Others claim that a Taiwanese restaurant owner, Tu Tsong-he, first created boba. Tu was inspired by tapioca balls he saw for sale in a local market and thought they would be a fun way to spice up the teas he served at his restaurant, the Hanlin Tea Room.
Boba tea soon became insanely popular in Taiwan, especially among students and people on the go. It was an instant hit because it was fun, different, and could be paired with various drinks, not just tea. Bubble tea and the boba used to make it soon became a global phenomenon and are enjoyed today all over the world.
Why Is Boba Called Bubble Tea?
There are a few reasons why tea made with boba is called bubble tea. First, when spoken, “boba tea” sounds like “bubble tea.” Also, when mixed in tea or other drinks, boba looks a bit like bubbles, even though they don’t move or act like regular bubbles.
Boba tea has also been called by many other names, including boba drink, pearl tea, boba iced tea, and QQ, which in Taiwanese, means “chewy.” You’ll also find boba being sold as boba nai cha, pearl milk tea, black pearl tea (when the boba is colored black), pearl shake, and BBT.
Is Boba High in Sugar?
Boba has no added sugar when made the traditional way from tapioca flour. However, drinks with boba, especially the fruit-flavored kind and boba drinks for kids, usually have a large amount of sugar. Some boba today is sweetened with sugar, but that shouldn’t be confused with regular boba, which is not sweetened. You should consume most boba drinks in moderation because they’re made with sugar, which can lead to several health conditions. However, traditional boba does not contain any added sugar.
What Does the Texture of Boba Feel Like?
The boba “pearls” found in boba tea and bubble tea have been described as a cross between chewing gum, gummy bears, and Jell-O. The first time you put boba pearls on your tongue and bite down on them, the texture and mouth feel will be like nothing you’ve had before. They’re squishy, slippery, and delightfully different.
Is Boba Good for Weight Loss?
Although you might have heard of some people or weight loss plans using boba to lose weight, the fact is that boba is almost 100% carbohydrates. While carbs are necessary for overall wellness, they aren’t particularly helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. Eating only carbs is also not recommended, as your body needs protein, healthy fats, fiber, and even fruit sugar (fructose) to be healthy. In other words, boba is not a great product to use if you are trying to shed pounds.
How Is Popping Boba Made (and Is It Different From Regular Boba)?
Boba that pops isn’t actually boba at all, as it’s not made with tapioca flour but from a type of seaweed extract mixed with various fruit flavors. Popping boba is also known as “bursting boba” and “popping juice balls” and comes in various flavors. One of the most significant differences between the two bobas is that, while you need to cook boba made from tapioca flour, popping boba isn’t cooked at all. Another more noticeable difference is that real boba is chewy and doesn’t mix with flavors, but popping boba does mix and, of course, pops when you bite down on it.
Does Boba Contain Caffeine?
This question is one that often confuses folks who are trying to cut down on caffeine. Boba itself is made from tapioca flour and, as such, has zero grams of caffeine. But boba mixed with certain drinks will have various levels of caffeine. For example, the typical boba or bubble tea has 50 milligrams of caffeine. Other drinks, especially coffee and chocolate drinks, will also have different amounts of caffeine.
How Much Boba Is Healthy to Consume in one Day?
Most health experts recommend drinking one (or fewer) boba drinks per day because of the high amount of sugar, carbs, and artificial ingredients put into most drinks made with boba pearls. That’s especially true for popping boba pearls, which are usually loaded with sugar, and the drinks they come in contain even more.
Yes, Dunkin has boba pearls at all of their US locations, allowing you to order them and add them to any drink you like. Made from tapioca flour, boba is tasteless, fat-free, and has a soft, chewy texture that’s fun to eat. Popping boba is made from seaweed and pops when you bite it; both are very popular worldwide.
We hope you enjoyed this close-up look at boba and are happy to know that you can order it at your local Dunkin’.
Featured Image Credit: P Maxwell Photography, Shutterstock