Celiac.com Sponsor (A1):


Join eNewsletter


Celiac.com Sponsor (A1-m):



Join eNewsletter
  • Join Our Community!

    Ask us a question in our celiac / gluten-free forum.

  • Scott Adams

    Is Bubble Tea Gluten-Free and Safe for Celiacs?

    Scott Adams
    1 1
    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Is Bubble Tea, or 'Boba tea' gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease?


    Image: CC BY 2.0-- ljguitar
    Caption: Image: CC BY 2.0-- ljguitar

    Celiac.com 09/07/2020 - Anyone living in a bubble for the last decade or two might be excused for asking "What, exactly, is bubble tea, aka 'boba tea?'" Anyone not living in a bubble the last decade or two, and who has celiac disease, might be excused for asking "Is bubble tea gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease?"

    Created in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea has become so popular in the United States in the last decade, that "Boba Tea" shops are popping up like weeds. If you live in a city, or go to a mall, you may have noticed the popularity of bubble tea establishments. San Francisco alone is home to dozens of bubble tea shops, including some much-loved northern California chains like T-Pumps, and Teaspoon



    Celiac.com Sponsor (A12):






    Celiac.com Sponsor (A12-m):




    For the uninitiated, "Bubble tea," aka "Boba tea" is a drink made from sweetened black tea and milk, shaken with ice to make a foamy layer of "bubbles" that float on top of the drink. Chewy tapioca balls, aka 'boba' are also commonly added, as are many other ingredients, and flavors, including: taro, red bean, ginger, and even bran.

    Flavors are commonly fruit based, such as: peach, mango, strawberry, passionfruit, strawberry, guava, and tangerine, among others.  

    So, here's the gluten-free breakdown. As with so many questions, the answer can depends on what you add to your boba tea.

    Bubble tea is just black or green tea, milk, sugar, fruit, and tapioca balls. All of these are gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease. For reference, tapioca balls, or 'pearls,' are chewy little balls of tapioca starch, which is derived from the cassava root, which is gluten-free.

    As with ice cream, the devil can be in the details. Or, in this case, the things we add to the final product. Any ingredient that includes wheat, wheat bran or gluten, will make the final product not gluten-free, so be careful what you add. Most additives to boba tea are fruit-based, but sometimes they offer bran, which is not gluten-free, so be careful. Cross-contamination can also be an issue, so if you do decide to try it be sure to explain to the person making it that you need to avoid any contamination with gluten.

    If you're not sure about ingredients, it's best to avoid them. For a full list of safe and unsafe ingredients, consult Celiac.com's list of safe, gluten-free ingredients, and a list of unsafe, non-gluten-free ingredients

    So, to recap: Bubble tea, aka 'boba' tea is basically gluten-free, as long as you don't accidentally add gluten ingredients to the final product. Stick to the basics, the tea, milk, sugar, fruit and tapioca pearls, and you'll be sure to stay in gluten-free territory.

    Get Gluten-Free Bubble Tea Near Me:

    1 1

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Over the past 2 decades, I've worked in places that make boba tea. However the ingredient lists on the packages are always in Chinese.  So I had no way of knowing whether it was safe.  What makes the tapioca balls brown?  And what about maltose, a super-common ingredient in Asian beverages?   

    I know what you're going to say: maltose is safe because it's made with corn. And that is true in the U.S. But I'm not convinced that the products that do not have (supposedly required) English labels are necessarily intending to adhere to U.S. laws about this.  It has also always been my understanding that the word "malt" by definition means kilned, sprouted barley.  And that any variant on that would then declare itself as it is contrary to the generally accepted definition of "malt". (eg. Malted wheat, malted corn, malted millet...) 

    Your links last week to the FDA documents were helpful. Are there similar for this issue. 

    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=184.1443a&SearchTerm=malt#:~:text=184.1443a Malt.,alpha]-amylase (EC 3.2.  

    Quote

     

    "The terms "malt extract" or "malt syrup" unqualified should be applied only to products prepared from barley. If any other malted grain is used, the extract or syrup may be designated by a specific name such as "extract of malted barley and corn."

    "The designation "liquid malt" is considered false and misleading as applied to mixtures of malt extract or malt syrup with corn syrup or other substances which are not normal constituents of malt extract."

     

    https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/cpg-sec-515200-malt-extract-malt-syrup-malted-cereal-syrup-liquid-malt-dried-malt

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Join the conversation

    You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • About Me

    Scott Adams was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. In 1995 he launched the site that later became Celiac.com to help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives.  He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of the (formerly paper) newsletter Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. Celiac.com does not sell any products, and is 100% advertiser supported.


  • Celiac.com Sponsor (A17):
    Celiac.com Sponsor (A17):





    Celiac.com Sponsors (A17-m):




  • Related Articles

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 01/12/2017 - Good gluten-free news for burger fans, especially those with celiac disease.
    Popular burger franchise Shake Shack has announced that they will be offering gluten-free buns in all locations, except stadiums and ballparks, for just $1 extra.
    The company made the announcement via Twitter.
    The buns are made by BellyRite Foods Inc., and taste similar to their Martin's potato rolls currently served on all Shake Shack burgers.
    So, if you're gluten-free and craving Shake Shack, you can jump in line with everyone else.
    This is just another example of popular restaurants trying to make their food available for gluten-free...

    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 06/25/2019 - Just in time for summer, here are ten of America's top gluten-free potato chip brands. True, potatoes are naturally gluten-free, and so are potato chips, unless they've got added gluten ingredients. However, many brands do not label their chips as gluten-free, and many of these chips may be made on shared equipment. That's not necessarily a big deal, but some people like to play it safe. These brands go the extra mile to make sure their chips are labeled "Gluten-Free," which means that you can breath extra easy about serving them to people with celiac disease.
    Do you have a favorite chip that's not on this list? Let us know ...

    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 06/23/2020 - If you have celiac disease, or are gluten-free for other medical reasons, getting a good gluten-free ice cream bar, ice cream sandwich or ice cream cone can be a struggle. Every summer, we get questions like this one: Are Klondike Bars gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease? In fact, we get a lot of questions about ice cream, and specifically about which ice cream bars, sandwiches and cones are gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease. Just in time for summer, here are five top gluten-free ice cream bars, sandwiches and cones that are widely available at stores near you.
    Dove
    All Dove ice...

    Scott Adams
    Celiac.com 06/24/2020 - For people with celiac disease, and those who are gluten-free for other medical reasons, it can be a battle to get a good, reliable brand and flavor of gluten-free ice cream. True, most ice cream is made without gluten ingredients and may be gluten-safe, even if not labeled "Gluten-Free." However, the trouble starts with added ingredients, especially cookies, or cookie dough, among others. Be especially careful of any cookies or cookie dough ingredients.
    Just in time for summer, here are more than a hundred top gluten-free ice cream brands and flavors that are widely available at stores near you. Do you have a favorite ice ...